I recently had to take my son to the emergency room due to a migraine. (Turns out he had strep. No fun!) It was an extremely busy night. The waiting room was so loud that it was hard to hear what names were being called. The nurses often had to repeat names 2 or 3 times until the family heard them.
There were babies crying, people talking, family members on phones loudly relaying info, 4 tv’s all playing a different movie, and the receptionist phone was ringing about every 3 minutes. Despite it’s large size and ample seating, there were only a couple of the blue-green seats open. A few people were standing or walking around, since the alternative was to be separated from their group to sit next to a complete stranger.
There was a woman who came in with her two children and sat across from us. She slumped down in her chair. She had on a plain white t-shirt that was well worn around the edges. It looked more grey compared to the white paint on the wall behind her. Her undergarments fit her poorly, perhaps they were from a few years ago, before children. Her dark skin was oily. She had what at one time was probably very pretty braids in her long hair. A few strands of red could be seen woven in to the few braids that were still together. Most of them had been combed out now though, and her straight hair was pulled back in a single pony tail.
She wore black sweat pants that came just below her knees. They were well faded and had several spots of something light colored and dusty on them. She had a tattoo on her thigh that was obviously from several years ago, very faded to the point I couldn’t make out what it was. Perhaps something floral. Her shoes were very simple. Tan ballet flats with quite a few scuffs around the toes. They had a comfortable look to them, like they had been worn in well and fit her perfectly.
She wore no make up that I could tell. She looked tired. Her eyes relaxed with dark circles under them that comes from getting less sleep than you should over a long period of time.
But her children…Oh her beautiful children!
One was a little girl, possibly 6 or 7. Her brother sat next to her, he was older. I would guess 13 at least. Their beautiful dark skin was clean and soft looking. The girl had perfectly placed braids with bright colored beads. They didn’t wear name brand clothing, but they were obviously new. Very clean and bright, with a comfortable but crisp look to them. The boy wore a plain blue polo and jean shorts, while the girl had a bright green tank top with flowers printed on the front. Their shoes were also new, and had very little wear on the bottoms.
Unlike the other children in the room that were whining and grasping at their parents, they sat quietly with their hands in their lap. The little girl would occasionally stand up to get a peek at something just out of eye sight, but would gently return to her seat with out fan fare. When her mother handed her the cell phone to play on, (even though she never asked for it) she very quietly said “thank you.”
The boy was just as calm and polite. He did not have a device to occupy his time. He just contently watched his sister play her game, or watched what was on the tv closest to them. When their mother left for a few moments, she asked him to keep an eye on his sister. He didn’t complain, he just sat up a little straighter, with a look of resolve on his face. He took the charge seriously. He never took his eyes off her. Even told her to slow down while she ate her snack so she wouldn’t choke.
They didn’t say much, this family. But I could almost hear the “yes ma’am” “please” and “thank you” that most certainly rang out in their home. The mother never had to raise her voice, or give much direction at all. Just a look, or a gentle command was enough.
I could see this tired mother. I felt like I knew her. I could feel the late nights, the car shuttles, the burnt dinners. I could hear all the times she had to repeat herself, dole out punishments or give hugs. I could see her checking bank accounts and juggling the cost of those new shoes, and I could see her giving up what she had to in order to get them. I could feel her worry and her sleepless nights, wondering if she was doing everything right. More importantly, I could see all her hard work paying off, sitting right there next to her.
Even though she was tired, she was taking care of business. She obviously put her children before herself. Her children were polite, respectful, and responsible. They did not complain about a situation that was obviously very boring. They just made the best of it and sat there contently.
I only saw about an hour of her entire life, and I admired her. As tired as she was, she was doing what every mother hopes to do. Raising beautiful children to one day be beautiful adults. I applaud you tired mother. You are more lovely than you probably know.