So I'm sitting in the cafeteria of The Carnegie Museum of Natural History enjoying a piece of pepperoni pizza - The piece of pepperoni pizza I promised I would not buy this time because I'm so fit. Sure. - and I see her with two little ones finishing lunch.
My Thaddius attends classes here every Monday afternoon. During this time, I usually catch up on editing, emails, prep for trainings, etc. Ok, yea, I usually end up spending at least 20 minutes belly laughing at a table alone while scrolling inappropriate memes on Instagram, but we all have our own crosses to bear. As I sit, happily and actively getting chubbier slice by slice, I notice a momma with two young children just across the room from me. The babes were unreal adorable - A daughter and son no older than two and a half years old.
Two under two. Been there. Let me hug you.
She was happy. I know she was. But she was trying so hard to clean up, make sure her son didn't flip out of his highchair as he was in the midst of planning to freak out at the most inopportune time, listen to her daughter ask the same question she repeatedly said no to at least four times just since I had been eavesdropping. I swear, she was happy.
Then, she looked up at me. Looked me right in the eyes and gave me a smirk. Guys, THAT SMIRK. Not just any smirk. The one that moms give other moms when they are struggling. The smirk that silences the screaming inside. The one saying "Please, help me. How can you help me? I have to pee and I am at this museum alone with my kids. I didn't used to be this person. I wish you could have seen me before this life started. Where is this village everyone talks about? Shouldn't they be here by now?"
And her eyes lingered. They lingered for just long enough to connect - only for the connection to be broken by her sweet son throwing his Paw Patrol sippy on the floor, splashing water everywhere and throwing his older sissy into a fit of laughter. She knelt down and cleaned it up.
My heart broke.
Being the Empath that I am is truly a curse. I watched her continue to get them prepared to trek back through the museum and had to intervene. So, I put my pizza down, wiped the grease off my hand incase she intended to shake hands and avoid an awkward moment, and headed straight towards their table.
"Hi! My name is Millicent. I have three kiddos myself and I know where you are right now. Are you here by yourself today? Do you have to pee? I can sit with them here if you need to do anything or finish cleaning up." Now that I am sitting here typing this, that poor woman probably thought I was attempting to kidnap her children with my pizza grease stained hands. (If you are reading this, please know I was NOT trying to take your children. I have enough of my own already.) I then exchanged a few silly's with her daughter and told her I homeschool my son and he was here for class. She smiled with a genuine smile and explained that she plans to homeschool too. Our encounter was short but I hope I helped her in some way. To know that I saw her. Not her kids, not the spilled drink, and I heard her over her daughters many questions.
In that moment, I needed to be her village.
Really though, everyone talks about this village. WHERE YOU AT, VILLAGE? Aren't I supposed to be washing my baby's cloth diapers on a wash board at the edge of the stream, chit chatting with the other mothers while our older children climb trees and wear raccoon skin hats? I never knew isolation like the type of isolation that has accompanied motherhood.
At the loss of The Village, I am vowing to always be your village. I vow to smile at you and hear what your eyes are saying to me. And I promise to accept you for all that you were and all that you are now in this moment. I may not be able to help you wash those diapers at the edge of the stream, but I can surely sit with your adorable babies for five minutes while you pee in peace. Take the five minutes I am giving you. Accept my help.