This morning, after I dropped my son off at preschool, I noticed the mom next to me get in her car, grab a napkin from her console and start bawling.
She was sitting there holding the napkin over her face and her shoulders were shaking.
My heart sank. I knew why she was crying. Well, I didn’t know exactly. But I knew. These babies of ours, our hearts running around in the big, scary world without us, it can be a heavy load to carry.
I couldn’t look away. Not because I enjoy watching moms sob in their car, but because I felt compelled to do something.
I’ve been there. I’ve been the mom sobbing in my car alone many times. It would have offered me great comfort during those times if the fellow parents walking by me had stopped to say, “It’s going to be okay.”
Sometimes we just desperately need that human connection. We need a “friend in the moment” to show up for us.
So, I decided to be a friend in the moment today. I got out of the car with the baby, tapped on the window and motioned for her to roll it down.
“Hi! I noticed you were upset and just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
She started dabbing her eyes with her napkin. “Oh my gosh, thank you. I am. I think. It’s just … it’s just hard.”
“I know. What I really wanted to tell you is that when my oldest son did TK last year, I cried every day for like three weeks straight. He had a really hard time. So I know how hard it is. And it’s going to be hard, but it’s also going to be okay.”
“Oh my god. That’s so nice to hear. That’s what I needed to hear. I’m having a hard time. He’s having a hard time.”
I got out of the car with the baby, tapped on the window and motioned for her to roll it down.
“It’s hard. I know. I cried every day for weeks, like I said. But you’re a good mom and you have a good kid! Just remember that.”
“I really needed to hear all of that. Thank you so much. What’s your name?”
“Sam. What’s your name?”
“Brittany. Thank you, Sam.”
That was it. The whole convo probably took less than a minute, and I could see some of the color return to her face. I could see her shoulders relax. I hope it made the rest of her day just a little bit smoother, eased some of her anxiety.
I didn’t do anything heroic here, folks. And I didn’t publish this as some virtue signal so people could tell me that I did a good job. I use this because it is the PERFECT EXAMPLE of how we can be a friend in the moment to our fellow humans and what a huge impact that can have.
We will likely never meet up for coffee (though I would gladly treat her to a cup) or become best friends. That’s okay. Not every interaction we have needs to result in lifelong friendship. We just need to show up for people whenever we can, however we can. We need to be a friend in the moment to people who need us.
I realize knocking on a stranger’s window and instructing them to roll it down can be too far out of there for some people. You don’t have to do this. She had every right to speed off leaving me standing there in my sweatpants and disheveled hair bouncing a hungry baby.
I knew this could happen, but it was a calculated risk that I was ready to take. No more walking by crying moms in their car for me.
I just think we could all benefit from stepping slightly out of our comfort zones to show up for each other in small ways. I think my encounter this morning helps prove that. A friend in the moment can be invaluable. And we have all had experiences where we have needed one.
That may look like bringing a blanket and gloves to the houseless individual that you pass by each day on your commute to work.
That may look like pulling your neighbor’s garbage cans to the curb when it is obvious they forgot it was trash day. Again.
That may look like letting someone cut in line because you are not in a hurry, and their baby clearly needs a nap.
That may look like tapping on the window of a stranger’s car because they look like they need some extra support.
We are all busy. We are all running late. We all have somewhere to be and a million thoughts racing through our head at any given time, but the sky won’t fall if we pause for a few minutes to love on someone else.
I need to remember this as much (or more) than everyone else.
We need to all agree to press pause sometimes because people are more important than things. We need to be a friend in the moment when we feel called to do so.
It might look messy, awkward and imperfect, but who cares? Just show up, and let the universe sort out the rest.
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