I couldn’t hear a sound beyond the light, breathy sweetness of Taylor Swift in my new Bose headphones. Face hidden behind a mask and feet propped up on my carry-on, I watched the thunderstorm roll in over Pike’s Peak while dozing lazily and wondering when the delayed plane would arrive. Traveling alone seemed such a calm and peaceful thing and that‘s when you caught my eye.
You were petite with a little muffin-top hanging over the crooked waist band of your black leggings. The toddler balancing on your hip was arching his back in defiance nearly pulling you down with him. You had three bags hanging from your other side and both hands were full with sippy cup, wet wipe, iPhone, and a toy car. It seemed impossible that you could balance all of this and still walk, but you did. Your once neatly-plaited, smooth, brown hair was disheveled and showed signs of having been tugged at by the troubled two-year-old and many bag straps. Your jaw was firmly set, and your eyes looked weary but determined. Somehow you managed to be gentle with the tiny minion, though I know all too well the frustration you were choking down. People around you looked on, openly annoyed, which only added to your discomfort.
Then your eyes met mine, ready to seethe if I dared to challenge with a sneer but I smiled in a knowing way and your whole expression softened. Sweet, beautiful, young mother…how can I help?
Removing my world-blocking headphones, I stood and held out my hands. I remember how hard it was to accept help from a stranger, so I did my best to show sincerity. I could see you faltering, wanting to stubbornly continue to use every ounce of strength and survive this moment but you relinquished and handed me the collection in your hands. The bags dropped off your shoulders, your frame relaxed, and the over-stimulated person on your side burried his head in your shoulder and resorted to sobbing instead of struggling.
In that moment, with your messy hair, bags under your eyes, out-of-shape belly, and unmanicured hands you were the picture of beauty. You rested your cheek on the sweet baby’s head and looked up at me gratefully. “Thanks,” you half laughed. “Hey, no problem. I’ve been there. Do you need help getting your stuff to a seat?” You smiled and I could see the young woman who must have turned heads with her grace rather than the annoying noise and chaos. I could see how much you missed her and wanted to be pretty again. I know, sweetie. I know.
I glanced around disapprovingly at the people who had scowled at you and was placated by their obvious discomfort and shame. I bore them no ill will, but I wanted them to see how simple it would be to listen to the unspoken needs of a distraught fellow human. It is sadly rare that someone offers to help instead of judge young mothers balancing the unimaginable.
Dear beautiful hot-mess-mom in the airport, I see you! You are gorgeous. You are strong. You are a joy to watch because I can feel the tenacity in your every move. This time is a struggle and it surrounds you like a cocoon you can’t escape. You love-hate it and wonder if you will ever be “you” again. You won’t…but you will. This time of giving all you have, body and soul, to another human will morph you into something truly spectacular. I wish I could show you, but you will just have to wait and see. When you emerge from this suffocating binding, you will glow! That little grumpy boy will look down at you as a grown, young man with such love and tenderness it will bring a tear to your eye. It’s all worth it, I promise.
And when you are able to spread those wings again I guarantee…you will turn every head in the room! ❤