The first time my mother-in-law said goodbye to my newborn son, my heart broke for her. I couldn’t understand what she was saying to him but it didn’t matter. I looked her in the eye and, as a brand new mom, instantly understood the heartache she felt. The next time she would get to kiss his sweet cheeks, he would likely be walking and talking.
My mother-in-law speaks a different language and lives thousands of miles away. And while that’s presented communication challenges over the years, one part of the language has always been clear, and that’s the love we share for my children.
After a trip to Spain recently, I experienced first-hand the universal language moms can show each other, no matter what language we actually speak. My first encounter took place as I sat in the airport during a four hour layover, already stressed as my two toddlers ran around the crowded gate. We hadn’t even gotten on the eight-hour flight yet, and my husband and I were already exhausted. A sweet woman probably heard me yelling before she saw me, but when she did, she looked at me, smiled and then turned her attention to my children. She already knew their names (since I had been trying to corral them) and in Spanish started asking them a series of questions. Where were we going, what game were they playing, who were we going to visit? Within seconds, she had my children calmed down and my stress levels went down as well.
A little love went a long way.
This was just the beginning of motherhood love I experienced abroad. One evening in a crowded restaurant district, my son announced he needed to go #2 right away. Having no clue where a bathroom was located, we started running to try and find one. I was determined for him to make it, since I left his backup bottoms in our carry-on suitcase. As we raced into a large restaurant, I must have looked panicked because a mom got up from her table, rushed up to us and pointed to a staircase. Sure enough at the top was a bathroom and we made it. Afterwards, I went down to the table where she sat with two young boys and expressed my thanks. She just smiled and was probably thinking, I’ve been there mama, and I’m happy to help.
Here at home, I’ve offered help and had moms I don’t know help me out, giving an extra diaper or watching my baby in a high chair at Chick-Fil-A as I ran my toddler to the bathroom. But it was so wonderful to see that this camaraderie happens everywhere. Moms across the globe are in the trenches of raising children and understand that all mamas need a little extra love and support sometimes.
This proved to be true once again on our trip after my son was stung by two wasps at a park. His screams were enough to send me into a panic. But as I tried to tend to my hurting boy, my almost two-year-old daughter was also trying to help. A friend (also a mom) walked up, scooped up my girl, and distracted her while my husband and I took cake of our son. This woman, who would probably be my BFF if we lived in the same country and spoke the same language knew exactly how to help. Like all moms, we are caretakers, whether for our children or the one screaming on the airplane.
We’re in this together, because it does take a village and a lot of love.