We’re in the parking lot of the grocery store. The baby is screaming her head off because she wants to get out of her carseat. I’m trying to hurry, but my other children are taking forever to get into the car and get buckled. I’m trying to keep my cool but I’ve already repeated myself one too many times. In frustration I exclaim, “Hurry UP! I already told you to shut that car door!” The door gets shut, the kids are getting buckled up, so I shut the baby’s door and turn around to walk the cart back to the stall.
Standing there behind me is a very old woman, just smiling from ear to ear.
“Don’t worry honey. They’ll grow up soon enough, and then you’ll get your sleep.”
I just smile at her. I must have looked so goofy, but I really didn’t know what to say. So I just smile and nod. But those words and that kind face were exactly what I needed at that time. A sweet word from a mother who had been in the trenches and survived to smile about it. A gentle reminder to cherish this time I have with my children because it will pass all too quickly.
As I walk beside her to the cart stall, she goes on to tell me that when one of her’s was young, she slept on a mattress on his floor for a year because it was the only way he would sleep. I laughed, knowing that only another mother would understand doing something that crazy. Only another mother who was at the end of her patience would come up with something so creative, so that both her and her child would be well rested and happy.
I wanted to stand there and talk with her for hours, but I remembered my screaming baby a few feet away in the car and turned to hurry back. As I was walking off she said, “You might be as old as me, but you will get your rest one day.”
That twinkle in her eye and the joy in her voice were a testament to what motherhood does for us–it completes us and makes us so much more. I’ll have a lifetime of memories with my children, but I will only have them in my home for a short time. I need to remember to make the most of it, and enjoy each moment instead of trying to rush through my days.
I truly believe that God put that woman in my path today. As an encouragement. As a reminder. As a blessing. As an angel in disguise, showing me that the path I’m walking is well tread. Many have gone before me, and many more will come after me, including my own children one day. And then I will be in that woman’s shoes, giving encouragement to a harried mother who just needs a sweet word and a kind face.