“Mama, it’s going to be okay.”
I looked at him, blank faced, my scattered, frazzled mind slow on the uptake. His gaze didn’t falter.
“It’s going to be okay,” he said again, softer but with more conviction.
I offered a smile that I’m sure we both knew to be insincere, unable to reply as the tears began to sting the backs of my eyes. I stopped my cart in the middle of the parking lot to make a desperate grab for my sunglasses before this kind man and anyone else around me witnessed the ensuing breakdown. I made it to the car with heavy, hot tears moistening my cheeks. I lifted a screaming child into her car seat and strapped her safely inside as she slapped at me over and over again with two helicopter arms and hands sticky with ice cream. I tugged at the straps out of habit, ensuring that she was secure. Held tight.
After loading the few things I was able to purchase from my mile long list in the back of the car, I slammed the door, drowning out the cries. I trudged to the nearest cart return, one aisle over, thankful for the respite despite the black heat radiating from the concrete and the uncomfortable waddle any walking requires these days.
I began to drive away, but the tears were relentless. So I stopped at a space at the edge of the parking lot, my unhappy, hysterical girl already asleep behind me, and I gave in. For a short five minutes, I let myself wallow and cry and eat my toddler’s teddy grahams.
As the weeks of this pregnancy fly by, the days are so endlessly long. But this is what we do as mamas. We keep our children safe when they are hell-bent on ripping our eyes out. We keep our children protected when they have no clue of the danger we have prevented. We take five minutes and give them the other 1,345 each day.
So whatever season you may be in,
Rolling out of bed to feed that newborn,
Restraining flailing two-year-old arms on the floor of the grocery store,
Loading the last box before he pulls out of the driveway for college,
Pleading for that one blue line on the test to turn to two,
I just want YOU to know,
Mama, it’s going to be okay.