To the two grandmothers at school drop off this morning,
Neither of you could have known what has been going on in our lives for the last year. Neither of you knew that I slept for three hours last night. Neither of you knew that my kindergartner didn’t go to sleep until 9:20 last night. Neither of you knew that she has been having a difficult time since her brother died. Neither of you could know that she is prone to throwing fits and whining over the smallest of things.
You didn’t know that it’s hard for me just to get out of bed each day. You didn’t know that I put on a brave face to give my children the strength they need to keep going. You couldn’t see under my knit hat and jacket that I was taking a deep breath and fighting back tears of frustration and exhaustion as she got out of the car and began to whine and cry on the sidewalk about trying to ride her scooter while carrying her shoe box for class to the line to go into the school. You couldn’t read the thoughts inside of my head as I struggled to decide if I should get out and leave the car in the no parking zone drop-off zone and help her to the door or encourage her and reassure her that she could do this and she didn’t need to meltdown over it. You didn’t hear my prayer this morning that today would go well, that I could get everything done that I need to, that I would remain patient with my family, that I would have the energy and focus and drive to just keep putting 1 foot in front of the other today. There is no way for you to have known that I keep replaying last fall in my head each day just trying to remember everything that I can about my son. It’s so hard, but I can’t ever let his memory fade.
So, grandma one, when you walked by and grumpily looked at me through the car window and glanced back at my whining five-year-old only to glance back at me with your judgemental, rude glare, you didn’t help the situation. My children don’t have any grandparents here. Their parents don’t have a mother to turn to to drop their child off at school. I’m doing this on my own right now. But you couldn’t have known that. And it was obvious that you really didn’t care what was going on as much as you cared about giving me stank face.
Then, came grandma two. You hesitated as you walked by my van. You offered me a sympathetic look as I leaned over the seats trying to help L2 get everything situated. You quickly stepped in and offered to help her get her shoe box to the door. I watched you jog down the sidewalk to keep up with her as she rode her scooter to the line. I waited at the curb for you to walk back by. As I waited, grandma one walked by and I smiled at her thinking maybe she’s just having a rough morning too, only to be met with a cold and callous stare. For a moment, I began to question why I even try anymore. Then, you came back up the sidewalk and met my smile with a smile. As I offered my thanks out my van window, you chuckled and replied, “We’ve all been there before. It’s okay, no problem.”
As I pulled out of the school parking lot tears of gratitude for grandma two came to my eyes. We never know what somebody is dealing with. We never know what trials or struggles or hardships they may be facing. Be the light in somebody’s day. Don’t cast a shadow you wouldn’t want cast on yourself.
P.S. I may have pulled to the side of the school parking lot and waited for grandma one to pull out just so she would be behind me, see the back of my van, and maybe learn to show a little compassion and sympathy to others.