How did she know?
Was it my steady, determined gait that tipped her off? The desperate look in my eyes? My unkempt hair? The fact that I was in pajama pants?
Had she been there herself, in my shoes, wheeling a wide-awake baby down a hotel hallway, hoping that any minute — just any minute now — he’d finally consent to shut his eyes and drift off to sleep?
Little Scrunchy Face had had a hard day. He didn’t particularly enjoy his first plane ride, crying and screeching his way through much of the flight, unmoved by Mommy and Daddy’s attempts to pacify him with books, snacks and bounces.
The flight, as it happened, took place during his usual naptime. Of course, he didn’t nap — not until dinner, anyway. It was a blessing for us, actually. After a long day of traveling, my husband, my 3-year-old and I could enjoy our dinner in relative peace.
But there was a price to pay for this peace. Scrunchy Face awoke in the late evening. We gave him some snacks and then, foolishly, we tried to put him to bed at his usual time.
He wasn’t having it. After about 30 minutes of restless wailing in our hotel room — his, not mine, though I was close to tears myself — I decided it was time for a nice, relaxing, sleep-inducing walk. Up and down the long hotel hallway we went, with me pushing the stroller while pushing the limits of my own energy. Mommy, after all, had had a hard day too.
It was nearly 10 o’clock. At our family-oriented hotel, that meant a number of guests had turned in for the night, but not everyone. We encountered parents and children here and there, some tired, some still jazzed from their day of vacation fun. No one was particularly loud, but no one was whispering either.
And then we ran across a mom with two grade-school age children. The kids were skipping but still managing to stay close to their mother. When they spoke, they were only a few decibels above what you’d consider an “inside voice” — in other words, they were behaving pretty decently for kids on vacation.
But after seeing me, the mother saw fit to shush them. Was she trying to keep them quiet for the sake of me and my hopefully-soon-to-be-asleep child? I don’t know, but I like to think she was.
When you’re feeling exhausted and alone in this whole motherhood thing, it’s always nice to remember that someone else has been there too. And it’s even nicer to believe that sympathetic souls want to help, even if it’s in the smallest of ways.
To the shushing mom: Thank you, and sweet dreams to all of us.
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