In Da Club (Day #12)

I belong.

I didn’t have to apply.  I didn’t have to prove I was worthy.  There was neither interview nor hazing ritual.

And yet, I’m part of the club.

I didn’t know it at first.  No one told me how these things work.  But then, five days after Lfil Mil was born, when I first ventured out of my house into the Real World, something happened.

I was at a sidewalk cafe a few blocks from my house, struggling to maneuver my stroller through the maze of tables and dirty looks.  I was embarassed.  Embarassed that I hadn’t yet mastered my oh-so-hip stroller.  Embarassed that I was dressed like (and likely smelled like) a homeless person.  Embarassed that I hadn’t thought this plan of mine through. 

I tried not to make eye contact with anyone, hoping that this would somehow make me less visible.  I kept my head down, my eyes on the front wheels of my stroller, praying that they were narrow enough to make it all the way to the back exit without rolling over anyone’s foot. 

I was halfway there when she appeared.  Approached, rather.  She was tall, slender and well-dressed.  And she was smiling.

“How old is she?” she asked, peering into the stroller.

“Five days,” I told her, wiping the beads of sweat from my upper lip. 

“Wow!  Good for you!” she said, meaning it.  I felt a surge of pride.  She flashed another smile.  “I didn’t get out of bed for two weeks,” she said with a laugh.  It ws then that I noticed the attractive, equally well-dressed man standing a few feet away, an adorable blue-eyed baby boy in his arms.  “Go order,” the woman said to the man.  “I’ve got him.”  The man nodded, handing her the boy. 

I took a step forward, not wanting to be in the woman’s way.  But she didn’t budge.  She just stood there, smiling, bouncing her son on her hip.  “I just got back from a business trip,” she told me as she kissed the boy’s forehead.  “Two weeks!  It was so hard being away from this little guy.” 

I smiled, nodded.  The woman smiled back. 

We chatted for a few minutes longer.  She asked about my delivery.  I learned that she had just stopped breastfeeding.  We admired her son’s blue eyes and Lil Mil’s dark hair.   The whole exchange lasted less than 5 minutes, but it felt like a real conversation.  It was a real conversation. 

It happened again the next day.  This time at Starbucks.  A woman with a 6 month old.

And again.  At the mall.  A woman with a toddler.   

And today.  At Trader Joe’s.  A woman with a 7 week old.

These women, they approach with smiles and kind words.  They ask about Lil Mil.  They share their stories, impart words of advice.  They’re friendly.  Sincere.  They treat me as one of them.

I am one of them. 

I am lucky to be one of them.

Soon, it will be my turn.  I will be at the supermarket or a restaurant, and I will see a woman with a baby younger than mine.  She’ll look harried.  Tired.  Overwelmed.  And I’ll approach with a smile and kind words.  I’ll ask about her little peanut.  I’ll tell her about Lil Mil, maybe offer some advice.  I’ll be friendly.  Sincere.  I’ll treat her as one of us.  And in that moment, I hope she realizes she’s not alone.

We’re not alone.  We have each other.  The Mom Club.

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