A Pair of Mothers

July 2, 2010

Years ago, I was driving my car full of kids home from some combination of soccer, dance, and school. I passed a woman and her kids, walking on the bike path. I watched the woman as we passed. Flanked by a couple of skipping, laughing chatterers, she was pushing a stroller along and smiling a huge smile. I kind of hated her for her show of joy, and I can still hear my inner voice. It went something like this:

What is she so happy about? She must be faking it. Just like those smiling contra dancers who grin and do-si-do with complete strangers. She’s not that happy.

Then I looked around at the kids in my car. Tired and bedraggled, and looking like they needed the kind of mommy who was walking the bike path.

I still remember that smiling mother, but I also remember that other mother, the one driving the car. I look back and see her face too, and I wonder what worry distracted her from her own lovely, mundane moment. Her car was full of her favorite people, tired and full of the day’s happenings, and I just want to tell her that she can let go and smile, that everything will be okay.

A nice thing… looking back with empathy at one’s former self.

4 Responses to “A Pair of Mothers”

  1. Gary Spykman said


  2. kenhoney said

    Ah. Yes. Life is all of that–joy, serenity, exhaustion, so much more. I am sure she’ll be okay. She’s got an empathetic friend from the future.

  3. Dale said

    And remember, too, that the woman with the stroller doesn’t always smile. Some days she looks worn and harried, torn and worried.

  4. Geoff Woollacott said

    Empathy is a great thing. Someone mentioned the word to me two years ago, and I had to go look it up. Nice to have it handy these days.

    Nice story. These things are incredible, Sarah.

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