You saw me walking down the sidewalk. I must have been quite the sight. There I was, waddling under the 22-lb weight of my 9-month-old that I carried in my Ergo, his white, chubby legs kicking erratically. Behind me, a light blue grocery cart filled to the brim with my groceries. In one hand, I carried 4 more grocery bags. And in my other hand was interlaced the hand of 4-year-old son, who was on the brink of tears because I wouldn't buy him a McDonald's ice cream cone on the way out of the incredibly busy grocery store.
I would stop every 15 or 20 steps to shift the bags and kid from one hand to the other. I looked up, towards the intersection...such a long intersection...took a deep breath, and kept walking. My son loves jumping over the cracks in the sidewalk so he doesn't break his mother's back, but every time he did it, he would jerk my arm down, killing any equilibrium and momentum I had going. I repeatedly yanked my hand away from him to put the binky back in my crying baby's mouth.
3 more blocks to go.
I felt like crying. The traffic noise was overwhelming and the smell of the dark exhaust from the filled-to-the-brim buses was making me lightheaded. The bags were so heavy, my kids, such a burden. I cursed at myself for thinking that taking two little boys for a first visit to a foreign grocery store in a foreign country was a good idea.
The green man stopped walking and turned to red. I stopped, shifting my bags yet again to the other hand. My older son was a few steps behind me, complaining that his legs hurt and that he didn't want to walk anymore. I shot him the meanest, most evil glare and just turned my head to look at the long intersection. My son started pulling on the back of my shirt, crying. I closed my eyes and tried to find my breath.
In and out. Easy does it.
And then the pulling stopped. I opened my eyes and turned around, a small wave of panic rising in my chest. Next to Desmond, I saw you bent down on one knee, talking to him in Spanish. I walked over and heard you telling him to be a big boy and that you would be so happy to help him cross. You looked up at me with a big, "I've-been-in-your-shoes-sweetie" smile and I nodded my head and said, "Muchisimas Gracias, Senora."
You grabbed his hand and walked him through the intersection, talking to him the whole way across. To me, it was as if you were walking on water. My son is cautious, to say it nicely. On his best days, he won't look at any stranger to say hello to them, on his worst, he growls at them. So, the fact that he wasn't running away from you and letting you guide him down the street left me speechless.
And then, as soon as I had caught up to the two of you, you raised his little hands, kissed his knuckles, and left. I stood there, dazed almost, as I watched you walk away, going towards the other side of the intersection where we came from. Your kindness gave me the strength, sweet lady from the street, to make it those last three blocks home. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
*I took inspiration from my fellow MOTY, Annie, who is an amazing writer and wrote a similar letter to the guy who gave her kid a cookie in the supermarket. I also wrote this as part of A Cup of Joe's Winter Survival Guide. If you tend to suffer from SAD, give this a try. Write a love letter to your tribe and tell them how wonderful they are and how much they mean to you. It really will make you feel like the luckiest person in the world.
End of sappy post.*