When Anton was three months old, I burst into tears at the playground…
It was a warm fall day, and we were watching the big kids go down a secret slide in our neighborhood. Toby was three, and Anton was teeny tiny, and I was the kind of tired where your eyes sting and you aren’t 100% if you’re awake or just dreaming. Something startled me — a car horn maybe? — and life was suddenly too much to take. Tears streamed down my face, and toddler Toby looked up at me with the sweetest worried face. Cradling Anton in my arms, I sat down next to Toby in the sand and wept.
“Hun, are you okay?” said a gentle voice behind me. I looked up to see another mom looking down at us with kind eyes. She lowered herself onto the sand, too, as her little girl watched from nearby. “I promise it gets easier,” she said. “But, oh my god, I remember how exhausting those early days were.” She asked if she could hold Anton, and I wiped my face with a corner of my shirt; then she rocked him while giving me a beautiful pep talk about how I could do it, how my children were clearly thriving, and how we are all in this together.
After a few minutes, I was able to gather my wits about me. “You’re my guardian angel,” I told her, and she smiled. Then she and her daughter waved goodbye and headed home, and that’s the last time we ever saw them. But I will never ever forget her!
Years ago, my friend Abbey gave this parenting tip: “Remember you can ask other moms for help when the diaper explodes, you forget the sunblock on the hottest, sunniest day of the year, when you realize you don’t have wipes. I’ve been endlessly humbled how generous women will be to other women. Motherhood is a powerful shared experience. I was recently traveling alone with my toddler, overwhelmed, carrying him on my shoulders, plus two heavy bags. Just as I’d reached at the edge of my endurance, a mom came up to me and said, ‘How can I help?’ I almost burst into tears and handed her one of the bags. Even if you’re having an off day, some mother somewhere remembered to pack the snack, the sunscreen and the wipes.”
I’d love to ask: What about you? When have other people — loved ones, acquaintances or strangers — helped you? We really are all in this together.
P.S. Postpartum depression, and 12 great reader comments on friendship. Plus, the kindness of strangers.