I have to tell you a story that has left me struggling in shame. I’ve tried to force it down into that space where such stories can often live for years, sometimes forever, without another person ever hearing them. But this story refuses to hide in the darkness of my heart. It’s been on the tip of my tongue in every conversation. It threatens to jump out of my mouth without my consent.
I see no alternative to writing it down. I see no other way it will set me free.
It began a few weeks ago on Naveen’s first “visit” to the infant room at the daycare which was intended to ease his transition into our upcoming change in routine.
That’s when I met her.
I was hoping she was the mom of one of the babies. She easily could have been one of those moms of an indecipherable age. Maybe a really busy single mom, I thought. With a gaggle of unruly kids demanding every ounce of her exuberance, leaving her lethargic and haggard.
The poor woman. No wonder she scowled when I smiled nervously at her. I knew how much yelling was involved trying to keep one naughty preschooler in line; I could just imagine the shrieking required to bring this mythic tribe of hooligans in her charge to order.
And she was obviously sleep-deprived. The dark under-eye circles were a dead giveaway. I of all people could spot a weary mother. And how selfless of her to bestow such little thought to what she was wearing. A pair of men’s grey jogging pants, dirty scuffed white tennis shoes and a sweatshirt festooned with a kitten and the phrase It’s hard being purr-fect.
I wouldn’t blame her for having a few extra glasses of wine once her wild brood were finally in bed. And our eyes met long enough for me to see that hers were bloodshot, possibly the result of putting her feet up with a few too many cold ones.
“Hey, I’m Gene,” she pushed an un-manicured hand my way. Large man hands. “I’m here on Mondays and Tuesdays.”
“Oh good!” I croaked, “I’m Kim.”
And as I walked out of the building leaving my baby in her care for a full hour, I prayed to God that Naveen not give this woman any reason to unleash the fury she looked to be capable of.
This past Monday, after I dropped the kids off for the second week, I made a shaky promise to myself to not call the Daycare. I knew that if anything was really wrong, they would call me and it had only served to make me feel even more torn and helpless the previous week when I could hear Naveen crying in the background during each of my phone calls.
So at the end of the day, when I rushed in to fetch my baby, you can imagine how stunned I was to see him nuzzling Gene’s neck, smiling peacefully, while she stroked his back. And before she noticed me, she grabbed him by the middle, held him up above her face and the two of them giggled like old friends, like mother and child. I watched her face contort this way and that, making him laugh madly.
I knew in that moment I had a lot more work to do on myself.
I'm joining those ladies at the Red Dress Club in their prompt physical beauty. I took my own approach to it.