I saw her in the food court at the mall the other night. Actually, I saw her little girl first. Precious snow-white tights with buttons and bows, squiggling across the floor near the table. So typical, I smiled. How many times did I get my little girl all dressed up to go out—and before I knew it, whatever was pristine and adorable was wriggling across or into something that might turn it black and torn? But, oh, such fun in the process. Isn’t that part of what being a child is all about?
Then I saw her mother. It turns out we knew each other, from a local Mom to Mom. I walked over to their table to chat a moment. “How old are you?” I asked the cute little girl. “She’s two,” a voice said. Lucky girl has a cute—and helpful—older brother. Lucky mom has two adorable little kids.
But I know more about this mom. We’ve talked before. We have a lot in common. Her very gifted husband is an oncologist, like mine. And this very gifted husband works all the time, it seems—as did mine. This mom is alone a lot with the kids, as I was.
We talk some more. She tells me of another mom she’s getting to know whose husband is also an oncologist. The two of them have lots and lots in common. “You really need to know about this program I go to,” this young mom has told her friend. The woman who wrote the material is married to an oncologist, too.” The new friend laughs back: “Oh, Mom to Mom is my lifeline. I go to it at another church.”
Back to the food court. Woody and I sit at a nearby table, and I watch as this patient mom talks and laughs with her children, and buys them an ice cream to share. Then she packs them both up again, along with the diaper bag and assorted other mom baggage, and pushes the stroller wearily (she’s a beautiful young woman who looks great, but I recognize mom-fatigue) toward the door out of the mall. Miles to go before bedtime.
One mom. Two kids. Not much conversation with anyone over the age of four. I am taken back to that same food court many years ago. It looked very different then (as did I!), and I was plus one child. But the feelings flood back.
I wonder if she knows what a good mother she is. Just a night eating fast food at the food court. Just a chance to get out of the house. Just one night not to cook. A sanity saver, perhaps. I know the feeling. But still, conversations are being had, questions are being answered, everyday memories are being made. This is a good mother.
I wonder if she knows it. Just before she leaves, I stop back by her table. “You are such a good mother,” I tell her. I hope she believes me. I hope my own daughter and daughters-in-law believe me when I tell them that, too. It’s true. It’s just so hard to see, sometimes, in the ordinary, everyday, tough-stuff mom moments.
I hope you have someone to tell you. And a lifeline—like Mom to Mom. Just in case, let me say it, and ask God to give you grace to believe it, even in the mall food courts of your life:
You’re such a good mother.