It had already been 45 minutes of waiting in the lab office waiting room and there was still no sign that I would be called back anytime soon. You had the usual suspects in the room: the pregnant woman, the elderly couples, the poor sick babies and the professional men and women who were staring endlessly at their phones. Today, for some reason, I decided to keep my phone in my purse and just observe.
Going on about an hour into the wait, in walks a mother and her two little girls. The older one was probably 3 years old and was wearing those little shoes that light up every time you take a step. The younger one was around a year old, and was being carried in a car seat carrier by her mother. The mom put the baby on the floor close to me and told her older one to sit on the chair next to me. The little girl looked at me hesitantly at first, but then gave me a big smile and sat down. That was the only time she looked at me.
The rest of the time, she spent entertaining her little sister by playing peek-a-boo, making silly faces and just walking around and around and around the babies carrier. Inside the carrier, the baby was having an absolute ball – giggling and laughing at everything her big sister was doing. She even giggled when her big sister was just standing next to her! Funny how this one small family next to me in a medical waiting room allowed me to travel back about 12 years to when our little girls were that age.
I can’t remember a specific event when the three of us were somewhere and our older one would do the exact same thing with her younger sister, but I know it happened ALL the time…at doctors offices, the grocery store, the bank – pretty much everywhere. And I always remember an older woman smiling at me when it would happen. I would always politely smile back but would always wonder why? Were my kids that entertaining? Did she feel sorry for me? Was she smiling because she knew something I didn’t? I never really understood…until today. Today was different. Today, I was that older woman smiling. Today, for the first time, I understood why…
I closed my eyes and just listened. All of a sudden, I could see the silliness coming from our older daughter and the giggles coming from our younger one….the memory, the vision of them as little girls and the feeling of happiness was absolutely and completely overwhelming. It made me smile. Unfortunately, my little trip down memory lane didn’t last long and soon I was back to reality. I heard my name being repeated over and over again. I was back in the waiting room and they were calling for me to get my blood drawn.
Before heading back, I looked at the mom and smiled. She smiled back at me politely. I wanted so badly to explain to her why I was smiling. I wanted to tell her that now my girls, instead of wearing shoes that light up and sitting in car seat carriers are asking for Doc Martins and counting down the days to their drivers permit. I wanted to tell her that I had just experienced the most amazing trip down memory lane because of her little girls. I wanted to explain to her the fact that I had been there, like her, politely smiling back at the older woman asking that same question…why are you smiling?!? But I didn’t. I just smiled. And she politely smiled back.
Circle of life. I guess that’s what we call it. I know one day in about 10 years, she too will be that older woman who has had a brief chance to travel down memory lane, even if just for a few minutes before having to come back to reality again. But even those few minutes are a real gift and something all of us mothers and fathers will cherish and smile about forever…
Until Next Time…Namaste!