One of the nice things about becoming a mom is the immediate link, no matter how tenuous, that exists between you and other moms. Sometimes, of course, this connection is trying, as when someone assumes some commonality of experience when actually there is none. But sometimes, it’s a real source of pleasure. Sometimes, being a mom meeting another mom is a short cut to finding a friend.
In February, I made a road trip to Cleveland to see my uncle in the hospital. After visiting, I left his room and was getting my things together in the hallway when I found myself next to a sweet-looking, young employee in pink scrubs. From her trolley of tools, I guessed she worked in linens.
“Are you a relative?” she asks me. “Yeah? Your aunt’s amazing. She never leaves his side. I want to be like that if anything happens to my husband.”
Then she sees my baby and we talk about our kids. She says she has four. Four girls.
“Four!” I call out in surprise. “You look so young.”
“Everybody say that,” she says, pushing her bangs off her face, “but I’m not young.”
I discover her girls are 16, 14, 9 and 2. I’m usually careful about making comments of any kind relating to anything around pregnancy, but somehow I feel comfortable enough to say, “Oh, your last wasn’t planned?”
“No,” she replies easily, “but she’s a blessing. The older ones take care of her and are always saying, “‘Guess what she did today! You see that?’ She brings the family together. And her daddy loves her. And that’s nice because he’s always arguing with the older ones, especially the 14 year old. I feel sorry for him, I do. With all these girls.”
“What do they argue about?”
“Oh, you know, ‘I told you, don’t touch my cell phone!’ But she does it to provoke him. He works two jobs; he’s never home. So she does it to get his attention.”
“Negative attention is still attention.”
“Exactly.” She nods toward the baby. “What about you? How many you got?”
“He’s my third. I’ve got three boys. Close in age, though, not like you: 5, 3, and baby.” And then I add, a little apologetically, “I started too late.”
“Well,” she says, “I started too early.”
We laugh. “Nothing’s perfect,” I say.