I take the train to my day job on occasion and the other day on a very crowded commuter train home, a young lady with an infant strapped to her chest sat down a few rows ahead of me. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a little baby, I bet she’s just back from maternity leave and decided to put the baby in childcare close to her work. Good for her, that must be so hard, I’m not sure I could have traveled with either of my infants like that, they would have cried…I would have stressed out…I’d have been so uncomfortable…”. As my inner thoughts rambled I noticed how nervous she looked, and how irritated everyone else looked. It was so wrong and rude some of the looks she was getting as she navigated to her seat. They were staring as if the baby had already started screaming and was already ruining their self-centered and silent commutes home. I took notice and said a little prayer that the baby get sleepy, and the mother has an easy ride and doesn’t worry too much. Babies will cry, people will get over it.
Within about 10 minutes the baby started to fuss. The mother was getting frantic, desperately pushing the pacifier in the baby’s mouth and bouncing in her seat, shushing…trying anything to calm him down. I kind of laughed inside because she was being so frantic about it, her energy was so charged, how could anyone ‘relax’ in that environment but I totally get it. To be clear, I laughed because I have been that frantic mother SOOOOO many times before, for YEARS with my first baby…and I would be repeating in my head, “why won’t you calm down? What am I doing wrong? I’m doing all the things! AHHHH!” – so yeah, laughing in solidarity as I saw myself as a first time mom in this frantic mother ahead of me.
I was too far away to do much about anything so I just sent some good thoughts and prayers out there. Suddenly the lady next to mother whispered something in her ear. Before you know it they were working together to unwrap this poor babe, who was way too hot bundled up against his mom in her winter coat. It was an awkward minute or two of unstrapping, clipping, zipping and bumping elbows in all directions but soon the baby was free, and cool, and quiet
The lady next to that mother fanned her little one with a folded paper for the next 10 minutes while they chatted. And before you know it there were 4 other women in on the discussion. I couldn’t really hear what was being discussed, but it was an odler woman, a younger girl without children, another mother…just women. On a train. Taking care of each other. And their positivity was infectious.
It made me realize that our Village is all around us, all the time. Sometimes we just have to be brave enough to look for it, or to say ‘yes’ when it’s offered to us. Make the connection, help your neighbor, look up from our phones, make eye contact for pete’s sake. 🙂 It will do a world of good, I promise you.