Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Beautiful Mom

Yesterday was another day of feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve been working incredibly hard to do home repairs, in order to sell my home.  There isn’t actually anything wrong with my house, but it needs upgrades.  Everyone wants granite counter tops and new this or that.  So I’ve been doing a lot of cosmetic type projects to add to my already beautiful home’s appeal. 
 I’ve been handling a lot of these things while my husband is working out of state.  (That is not an invite for weirdoes, my Dad is just down the road, and he was in a war and has a gun which he knows how to use very well.  Not to mention I have a scary pellet gun that could immobilize you until he gets here to finish the job.)  Anyway, I still have my two little ones, who are more demanding than usual because Daddy is away.  They are nervous, clingy and don’t want to sleep alone.  We are all on edge because we can’t relax enough to make small messes in fear of a showing, (people coming to see the house). 
Our lives are anxiety ridden waiting for what comes next.  We are ready to move, to join Dad and family we’ve missed in the other state, and apprehensive about leaving family, school, and friends we have here.  We live in a perpetual suspension; an uneventful pause filled only by disappointment. 
So yesterday was another showing,(great one more person to force me out of my home, only to tell me what I don’t have, that they want, and still no offers).  So I chose to see it as an opportunity to do something nice for my children.  We went to lunch and a movie, (which I dosed off through, thank you exhaustion).  
Then we decided to go to the school park to burn off the stored up energy from sitting through the movie.  We grabbed our bikes and enjoyed the sunshine and brisk air.  Collectively, I think we were feeling pretty great.  We got to the school and there were other children there to play with, so I thought I would sit and do a little writing.  Fantastic day!
Then I saw her; another mom playing with her child instead of sitting on the bench.  A hint of guilt tugged at me, but I knew I had done many things with my kids that day and every day.  I deserved a little writing time; after all it’d been forever since I’d had the opportunity.  So I pushed the guilt aside, but in between sentences when I checked on my children, I would catch a glimpse of the other mom, who occasionally seemed to be watching me as well. 
I became self-conscious when I really took the time to take her in.  She was stunning, fit, well put together.  Even in her athletic wear her waist line was visible, her hair neatly combed and make up intact.  I of course was disheveled as always, frumpy and chubby; a big lump sitting on a bench hiding behind my jacket and notebook.
My sweet little, sometimes shy daughter decided to come out of her shell and began to talk to the other mom, so I knew I must close my notebook and put writing off for another day.    However, before I got situated the woman and two little girls joined me on the bench, talking of lady bugs and flowers.  As moms tend to do we exchanged smiles and began to discuss the supposed shyness of our daughters.  While we talked, I notice she smelled just as lovely as she looked, which sent me into even more self-loathing. 
How do some women seem to have it all? She was stunningly beautiful, charming and sophisticated.  I wondered if my envy could allow me to like this woman.  Yes, her smile was friendly, her eyes sincere and her patience with children admirable; I had no choice but to like her.  Besides we’d already discussed books, she was a reader, a woman after my own heart, instant kinship by the written word.  So I settled my own awkwardness and enjoyed grown up conversation.
Of course the subject of our moving came up and she divulged her own unsuccessful effort at selling her home.  The home was new, in a great area, but not even a single showing; already I felt selfish I’d had several showings, I should be grateful.   As we continued to chat, I wondered why she even wanted to sell, so of course I asked.  She gave me a crooked smile, but effortlessly told me something that couldn’t have been easy. 
Her husband had passed away four years earlier.  Now it was just her and her daughter in a large home, on a street without any other children to play with, or mom’s to talk with.  “I don’t know what we were thinking,” she sighed.  “I was pregnant at the time and all we saw was this great house that we were going to live in forever and fill with our children.  We didn’t even think about the people around us and ended up they were all elderly and now we don’t have any kids to play with, unless we come to Grandma’s house.” She pointed across the street to a lovely house, where grandma must live. 
I reflected on how much I miss my husband, and my heart grew heavy.  At least I know I will see him again, this poor woman would never see hers.  She went on to tell me how lonely she’d been, that she had no one but her in-laws close by, which prompted another painful question from me.  “What about your parents?”  Her mother had passed a year ago.  It had certainly been a painful four years for this woman, which only moments ago I’d thought had everything. 
My heart and mind tried to wrap around all this lovely lady had endured in such a small time.  I couldn’t fathom how she coped.  I wanted to reach out and hug her, to tell her I was so sorry, but it was obvious she’d dealt with her trauma and possessed a very dignified manner.  She didn’t need my slobbering sympathy, and I doubt very much she wanted it.  So I refrained, although it was difficult, (I’m a hugger).
Her heartbreaking story was much worse than I’d already imagined.  She proceeded to tell me she’d never been angry about being without him.  It wasn’t his fault and she had no guilt over their last conversation, they’d been on the phone and all was well and happy.  The I love you’s were in place, so when she got home and found him, the only regret was in his passing and that he’d never see their baby. 
I know my mouth fell about a foot wide.  She’d told me her daughter’s age and that her husband past four years ago, but my mind hadn’t connected the dots.  Her child was born just a few months after she’d buried the father.   “So she really is my miracle baby,” her smile broadened as she looked toward her child, “and she looks so much like him.”
My mouth felt dry and my normally sharp mind dull.  I could only offer a simple utterance, “His last gift to you was the most precious of all.”  I don’t know if she was just being kind or if she was used to people saying stupid things around her, but she agreed with me and we moved on to discuss books again. 
I’ve met several remarkable people in my life, I’ve even given birth to four of them, but I will never forget the lady I so irrationally assessed yesterday.  I felt like a fool after leaving her.  My thoughts are often self-serving; pouting over the hopeful sell of my home, grumbling over my inability to achieve all I would like and the disgraceful shame I feel over the fall of my personal appearance, but meeting this courageous lady reminded me none of these things are worth wasting precious time on. 
I am not a judgmental person, I’ve learned my lesson from younger years, but I did judge her in away at first.  I saw the beauty she emitted and chose not to see beyond it.  I am glad my daughter’s innocence interrupted my writing.  I am glad she forced me to meet a lady I will forever appreciate.  In the words of Dave Barry “There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean.”
The beautiful mom’s story is a part of me now and though I hope to never know the true depth of her suffering for myself, my heart both aches and cheers for her.  Every time she passes my mind I will pray for God to lend her strength, comfort and happiness.


  1. Wow Christy, that's a beautiful and sad story that brought tears to my eyes.

  2. Thank you for reading Maria. She brought tears to my heart. Such a strong and courageous woman. I can't wait to share my NPR piece it was really surreal that I met this lady and you will see why when I post it.

  3. It's amazing how the pain of others puts life in perspective for us. Great read as usual!