You didn’t see me but I saw you.
We were walking to the airport gate.
I was alone.
You were with your three children.
Security was easier than usual and I was enjoying the ease of which the airport experience had been that morning.
There are moments in your day that make us feel the world around us in powerful ways.
There are moments that make you cringe and want to run in the other direction.
I watched you amongst the other travelers with focused eyes and scattered movements with your grace.
I should not have been surprised by what happened in the moments following you filling my bucket, but, sadly, I was.
You walked a bit ahead of me carrying one child on your chest in an Ergo and holding another child’s delicate hand with firmness and kindness as I noticed your thumb rub the back of her small hand to let her know that you’re there for her.
Your oldest child hurriedly tried to keep up, taking pride in owning your rolling carry-on suitcase and keeping an eye on his mama and two younger sisters.
I have a big helper, too.
As we stepped onto the moving stairs, I noticed a bead of sweat drip from your brow. I suddenly felt the heat of a baby on my chest, the ache of my shoulders carrying too much weight for too long, and the sweat drip down my shirt.
You turned back and forth, back and forth, checking your son’s steps and then your steps.
That’s when I heard the handle hit the escalator and the bag begin to descend ruggedly down the moving stairs.
I looked at you, then your son. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t stop.
His eyes. His gasp. The moment of uncertainty in the air.
I waited and wondered how you would respond because I’m not sure how I would respond. I knew how I would hope I would respond but I also knew the danger of the intensity and stress of the situation causing a reaction exactly the opposite of the desire she response.
You stopped the bag with your leg, while holding yourself and your two younger children steady with the railing.
He looked up at you. You looked directly in his eyes with such calm and such kindness.
His eyes seemed remorse and waited for your response.
Doom never met him.
You floored me. You were gentle immediately diffusing the energy transforming the air with positivity and hope.
Then you said, ‘Wow! I bet you didn’t think that was going to happen!’
He let out his breath, grabbed the handle of the suitcase, and I watched the corner of his lips curve up into a soft smile.
He made adjustments to the suitcase’s positioning so that physics were on his side.
You said, ‘Way to figure out a way to hold the bag so it doesn’t fall! Very creative!’
He smiled at you. You smiled at him.
“I could see that you were scared when the bag started to tumble. That’s okay, you know, to feel scared. You didn’t such a good job with your fear. I’m glad you’re okay.”
That’s when you and I parted ways but you stuck with me.
A week later I continue to think about that make or break parenting moment that lifted your son in ways you can’t see quite yet.