For several days now, I've been mustering my courage and my words in order to say something. The thoughts and phrases and sentences have been marinating; gathered up and seasoned but in no order and having no organization. There has been no outline. I'll be honest, friends, it is the waiting for the outline, waiting for the clarity... that has been the bain of my writer's existence. The kryptonite to my creativity.
I still have no outline.
But I'm ready to say something.
What it comes down to is this:
It takes great courage to walk out into this world.
It takes great courage to expose ourselves to the eyes and criticism of others, to get dressed and walk around and look like we dared to try, to parent in public, to smile at people, to be vulnerable, to drive a car, to go on a hike, to write, to love...
This morning, at pre-school drop-off, I witnessed a "moment", if you will. One mom was walking towards the door from the east side of the parking lot while another mom was walking towards the door from the west side of the parking lot. They were walking towards each other, you see, and were about equidistant from the doors, therefore having plenty of time to see each other. I noticed the mom in high-heels first. Most of the mothers I see dropping their kids off at pre-school are in workout attire or yoga pants (#momlife) so, of course, this woman stuck out to me. Her dress was lovely and tasteful with lacey horizontal stripes over a simple black sheath. Her blonde hair was fabulous, obviously having been worked on that morning. She had on a full face of make-up and her high heels were the perfect compliment to her dress. She was smiling, bouncing; radiant, really. It made me smile just to look at her. And her kiddo was cute too. Also smiling. Holding her hand.
And then I noticed the second mom. She was wearing pj-type pants but not the "I'm wearing pj pants on purpose" kind of thing... more like sweatpants, I guess, with an unflattering t-shirt. Her hair was disheveled and half up and she was wearing no make-up from what I could tell. She was carrying a baby - about 8 months old, maybe? And her toddler was slowly bringing up the rear dragging his back-pack behind him. Neither of the three of them were smiling. At first, her expression was sort of empty; tired and seeming to be focused on simply putting one foot in front of the other.
But then, I watched as she noticed the high-heeled mom.
And I saw her entire expression change.
I witnessed what almost looked like an intake of breath, just a quick one.
And then her head dropped. Her shoulders stooped. She slowed her gait.
I saw her, in an instant, try to hide.
I obviously don't know exactly what was going on in her mind, friends, but I don't believe I'm off base to say that I watched embarrassment and insecurity take over, literally causing a physical reaction; the stooping of the shoulders, the slowing of the steps.
And I wanted to stop my car and pull over and hug her. I wanted to take her hand in one of my hands and take the high-heeled mama's hand in the other of my hands and have them talk together there on the steps of the pre-school. I know, without a doubt, that they would have found something to laugh about together or something to learn from each other.
I didn't look back at the high-heeled mom in time to see whether she noticed the sweatpants mom but, oh, how I hope she did. Oh, how I hope she looked up, noticed a fellow warrior and smiled a smile that communicated something like "Hi friend. You're beautiful. You're a champion. You're on time. You're making it. You're strong!" And then, that the sweatpants mom smiled back, saying "Hi friend. You're beautiful. You're a champion. You're on time. You're making it. You're strong!"
I hope that moment came after the moment that I witnessed. Because what I saw in the sweatpants mom's eyes broke my heart. Today, high-heeled mom was the one who looked like she had it together. Tomorrow, sweatpants mom might be the one who found the time to dress up her business and put on her make-up but the bottom line is this: No matter what we put on, no matter how we try to cover up or dress up or show out, it takes great courage to walk out into this world. It takes great courage to expose ourselves to other's eyes and perceptions and words.
So, let's make a deal. My part is this: when I see you, fellow warrior, I will SMILE the SMILE that says "Hi friend. You're beautiful. You're a champion. You're on time. You're making it. You're strong!" and, when you hear that in my smile, your part is to believe me.
It will take a little courage, dear ones, but it will be worth it.