The other day I got on the train with my entourage, as I often do.
There were not enough seats available, as there never are.
But a couple of hipster guys in the corner saw us huddled around a pole and had mercy. They stood up and insisted we take their seats. My three walking children immediately sat down, while I stood swaying with the baby wrapped to my chest.
The hipsters took over our pole and chatted quietly a few feet away—quietly, but loud enough for a mom straining to hear to pick up on it.
“That’s a lot of kids,” one said. The other quickly agreed.
They kept talking. “I saw this mom on the bus the other day. She had two kids, and then she had these huge bags on each shoulder. They just stuck out behind her. It was amazing.”
They went on like that for while. Talking about these crazy moms they’d seen. Or these tough moms. I’m not sure which. They seemed to be in awe both about the fact that people still have children these days when there are so many other things you could do with your life, and that moms are so crazy/tough.
Carrying crying kids on public transportation. Wearing babies and bags on their shoulders and maneuvering like its no big thing. Answering question after question after question with zen-like patience and wisdom.
And I couldn’t help but think of the moms I know who are so tough. Who have been through so much. Who get up day after day to do a hard job over and over and over again. And who, so often, are given guff about it.
Put a hat on that baby.
Shut that kid up.
Watch it lady!
The withering stares and rolled eyes on the airplanes and checkout lines. The barely disguised disgust that you would take children out in public. And the blame if anything happens to go wrong.
But really, it takes a lot of toughness to take two small kids on an airplane by yourself. A lot of strength to hold two kids’ hands, with another strapped to your body, with grocery bags hanging from each shoulder. A lot of courage to watch your heart scoot out ahead of you on the street, hoping the kid remembers what she’s been taught and stops at the corner.
Those are the things I was thinking of as I eavesdropped on the hipsters standing a few feet away. I thought I sensed some admiration in their voices about the work that mothers do.
I hope I did.