It was one of those everyday moments. At least it seemed like it until a fellow mom, a complete stranger, stopped me in my tracks and talked some sense into me. We were at the American Girl store celebrating my little girl’s birthday. I was squatting down to take her picture so we could commemorate all the girly goodness of the afternoon. All of a sudden, there was this random mom with a stroller and two kids standing beside me.
“Oh, why don’t you let me take a picture of both of you so you can remember this day,” she said sweetly.
Out of habit, I awkwardly refused. “Oh, uh, no that’s okay. Thanks though,” I said. What I really wanted to say was, “Ugh. Not today. I’m feeling fat, and I’m not happy with this haircut, and I know I’ll look enormous standing next to my skinny little daughter. And, do you see these black circles under my eyes? They’ll give away how tired and old I’m feeling. I don’t really want my child to look back on this picture someday and see her mom looking so…flawed.”
But this stranger wouldn’t accept my answer. She was actually insisting that I get in the picture with my daughter. I was starting to feel uncomfortable. We went politely back and forth for a few rounds, and she was adamant that I take a picture with my daughter. For a moment, I thought she was bordering on pushy.
“No, seriously, just go stand next to her. Just do it,” she said insistently, but still smiling.
Ugh. Fine. Not wanting to make things any more uncomfortable, I sighed and walked over to pose with my daughter. I was feeling simultaneously annoyed and a little glad that she actually talked me into it.
“Smile. You look great!” she said cheerfully.
Oh my gosh, is she really this sweet? I remember thinking. How does she know how I was feeling? Okay, this is clearly a mom who just gets it.
She handed me back my phone and said, “There you go. I took a bunch so you can pick your favorite.” She was already starting to push her her stroller away.
“Thank you so much,” I called to her.
She stopped, walked back over to me and gently touched my arm and smiled so incredibly kindly. “I had cancer. So I know how important it is to be in pictures. You’ll be glad you did it.”
Before I could even speak, she was walking away with her two young kids in tow. Everything just stopped for second as I let the significance of what she had just told me sink in. Then I realized I was just standing there with my hand over my heart and a lump in my throat.
It wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t just one of those things. It was exactly what I needed to hear. And I got it. I got the message. Thank you, fellow mom for reminding me how lucky I am. I hope you know you made a difference. Whenever I look at this photo, I will resist the urge to immediately find the 38 things I don’t like about the way I look. I will think about you and how you didn’t just capture the day we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. You captured the moment you changed my perspective and my priorities.
Life is good.