Someday, I will be the old woman in a parking lot who walks up to an overwhelmed mother juggling two small children, bags of groceries and a cart that won't stay put. I won't notice that she has broken a sweat, but rather how beautiful it is that her rosy-cheeked, teething baby is sleeping peacefully, wrapped against her body. I'll tell her so, and whisper, "It's just as comforting for you as it is for her, isn't it?"
Someday, I will talk to those small children, especially the chatterbox 4-year-old who is good at testing patience... and I will have much more patience than he can exhaust. I'll ask him what kind of cookies he likes and tell him that I'm there to buy molasses for baking that day. After listening to details about his birthday, his breakfast and his little sister's new teeth, I will give that mom a knowing side-eye and tell her that Wow, he's a smart one. You're going to have your hands full. And I will smile, because the mom bears the expression of a woman who has already answered about 600 challenging questions that day.
Someday, I will call that boy by the wrong name (maybe Ben, instead of Finn) because oh, you know, my hearing isn't what it used to be, and that boy, who always corrects everyone, will be so enamored with my kind and gentle conversation that he will nod, answer to that name, and invite me to his white house with a black roof just past the green bridge.
At my age, I may not ever make it to the days of great-grandchildren, but I will tell that mother I meet about the newest babies I have in my life, and how long ago it was that I had my hands full with my own.
I may not have the same birdhouse appliqué on my sweatshirt or a wicker purse full of tissues, but I will have the wisdom and experience to look past that mom's tired eyes and hanging-on-by-a-thread body language and know that her confidence is tested daily. I'll speak to her with loving, knowing words that she doesn't hear often, and gaze at her tiny children in a way that only another mother can.
I will, in a moment, make her feel seen and valued and at peace, and I will change the course of her day.
Someday, I will not remind that mother that she is lucky or that she should cherish every fleeting moment, because I know that she already knows that. I will simply thank her for sharing her children with me, and I will offer to take her cart back into the store.
I really, really hope that someday I can do those things. Because today, someone did them for me.
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