What a blessing!
Once when my son Will was a baby, my oldest sister, Heather, and I took him to a nice little restaurant for breakfast. We were in Nantucket, and it was a sunny and peaceful morning. That is, until we appeared. Will was fussy, and I felt really awkward and insecure still adjusting to my new role as a mother. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to keep him happy. I loved nursing but trying to do it discreetly in public was a different story. I always felt as if he was suffocating with a blanket over his face or like my breast was going to do something strange. As I tried to settle in, I looked around sensing that the expressions on the faces of the other diners were not ones of amusement.
There was one woman in particular who was really giving me the stink eye. She was sitting with her husband and would glance over at us periodically and then turn back to her husband and whisper. I couldn’t stop looking at her looking at me.
I had a tough time finding my composure. I didn’t know what else to do and since breaking into tears didn’t seem like the best option, I starting talking trash about this unassuming woman. I couldn’t get over how judgmental she was being! It’s hard controlling a squirmy fussy baby at a pretty restaurant especially on this island where everything feels so picturesque and perfect.
Eventually Will quieted a bit, and I started breathing again. I looked up and saw the woman with the stink eye walking over to our table on her way out the door. “Oh crap!” I thought to myself what is she possibly going to say to me? A million stories ran through my mind…was she going to tell me I was a terrible mom? Or that I should not have brought my baby to a restaurant as nice as this?
As she approached the table, she looked me right in the eye and said, “You are so fortunate to have such a beautiful child. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for a long time. It is such a blessing.” She was right, and I had been too worried about what everyone was thinking to enjoy this amazing blessing right in front of me.
This story brings to mind two lessons. One is how crazy our drama-seeking minds can be. Often these assumptions we make of others are mere projections of our own insecurities. It’s much easier to make someone else responsible for our own discomfort.
The other is a conversation my sister, Kerry, and I had recently. She told me that when she’s in traffic and getting irritable, she reminds herself that no one knows where anyone else on the road is going. The car that just did something careless like speeding through a red traffic light could be rushing to the hospital.
In real life, whether its on the road, or just going about our daily business, none of us really know where we are going or where we have come from. One thing is certain, however, if we can be present and compassionate to one another, it certainly makes the journey a heck of a lot sweeter.
As I try to stay open to the magic inherit in every moment, I have that unsuspecting angel with the stink eye to thank for teaching me such an invaluable lesson.