A letter to a stranger
by Joy Dombrow
To the mother at Chick-Fil-A,
I don’t know if you knew we were watching you, although I doubt it since your attention was so enraptured elsewhere. In my occasional habit of people watching, your demeanor caught my eye. I observed you for a while as I ate. Sitting at that table for two, knee to knee with your little man, you might as well have been on a date. However, this time the date had legs that dangled from a too-big chair, and a spiderman bandaid that stuck to his two-year old forehead, crookedly over one eye.
I saw the way you looked at him, as a human worthy of your respect and capturing your love. You held the gaze of his eyes, without being distracted by your phone or by others. You were alert to his needs, but not hasty or anxious. You engaged him with your conversation, and did not try to shoo him to the play area. It appeared that you really wanted to know him, to savor time spent together, and to raise him well.
It looks like you are doing just that. That sweet boy seems to be a pleasure. Perched rightly upon his chair, licking his ice cream with care, he was responsive to you and showed restraint beyond his years. He did not act out for attention, was not sleepy or grumpy, and was cooperative with your directions. I think that deep down he knows he is loved, probably because you go to great lengths to make sure that he does.
I also noticed how relaxed you were. Unhurried and calm, you made parenting look easy. I don’t know if this is actually the case for you, but what security your son must feel to have a mom who parents him with confidence and joy. How numerous your pleasant parenting days must be, and how happy your husband must be to come home to the two of you.
I just wanted you to know that our family was drawn to you. In your quietness you stood out from the rest. Far too often this week I have seen moms acting unbecomingly, fighting with each other at the zoo, yelling at their kids in the grocery store, pulling their girls’ hair at the mall, and acting disinterested in the lives of their children. You, my dear, are rare. I hope you know that what you are doing is important and that you are good at it. Thank you for your example of a woman, a mom, who clothes herself with strength and dignity.
May your son rise up and call you blessed.
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