I was walking home from the grocery store today when I witnessed something truly special.
It gave me a tremendous feeling of hope for humanity, and I’d like to share it with you.
A mother was walking down the sidewalk with her son.
She was in her 30’s. She walked in a straight line. And she was silent as she watched her son zig-zag around her sporadically.
Her son seemed to be about two years old. He was stable enough on his feet that he had no problem running, but he was still a bit wobbly and uncoordinated.
I’m a fairly fast walker and I normally would have just walked around them (they were in front of me, walking in the same direction), but something compelled me to slow down and be a witness to what was about to happen. In fact, a very clear voice in my head actually said to me “Watch this. See the love that she has for him.”
Almost as soon as this thought came to me, the little boy (who had been picking up speed the more he ran around his mom) fell down on the unforgiving cement sidewalk.
His hands and forearms took the majority of the impact, but he also hit his face on the ground and it shocked him for the first moment.
He was silent. One second. Two seconds.
And then the tears.
This poor little guy, who had been playful and filled with joy seconds ago, was bawling his eyes out.
His mom’s instinct?
She dropped her purse on the ground, scooped up her son, sat down on the sidewalk, and immediately started kissing the tears on his chubby face.
And while this instantaneous response was great, this isn’t what made me think to give her the mental award of “World’s Greatest Mom.” Nope. It gets so much better.
So here we are. It’s a cold winter’s day. Mom’s sitting on the ground with her crying two-year-old son in her lap, and I’m standing within a distant ear shot as I slowly approach the situation.
Enter ‘old man.’
An older man (presumably in his late 70’s) walks towards the mom and her crying son from the opposite direction. He likely saw just as much of what has happened as I have, but from the other side of the sidewalk.
The first words out of his mouth?
“Oh, come now, boys don’t cry…”
And without skipping a beat, the boy’s mother replied…
“Yes, boys do cry. And my boy cries. Liam, you can cry for as long as you need to. You can let it all out.”
She wasn’t rude to the old man. She wasn’t aggressive. She wasn’t outwardly angry.
She was firm. She was resolute. She was assertive.
Her response to the man carried the tone of “Thank you for your opinion sir, but no. That is not the worldview my son is going to adopt. We have no use for that belief.”
Her first two sentences were boundaries. Her latter two sentences were a verbal hug for her son.
It was one of the most loving things I have ever seen.
This mother’s fierce display of love and protection instantly got to me. Because I knew I wanted to say something to her, and how much I appreciated her response, it took everything I had to not start crying in a fashion that wouldn’t have been too dissimilar to what her son was doing.
(The concepts of protecting innocence and allowing of experiences have a lot of overlap with some of my core values. So a situation like this in any movie would make me bawl my eyes out… and here I was witnessing it in person. Potent stuff.)
The man didn’t slow down, or respond to her rebuttal. He hadn’t seemed to really hear her words and he simply went on his merry little way.
After being stopped dead in my tracks by the beauty of what this mother had just done, I took a few deep breaths (partially because I had to breathe away my own impending tears but mainly because I wanted to allow them to have a few moments of sitting and being with each other) and went over to her.
“I just wanted to let you know that I saw what you just did, and said, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every boy in the world would benefit from having a mother like you. Thank you for standing up to that guy and honouring your son.”
She paused, smiled, and replied…
“It’s the easiest thing in the world to protect this little guy.”
And that was it.
I walked home to put away my groceries, and she sat with her son and let him cry for as long as he needed to cry.
Faith in humanity restored.
For the record, I don’t blame the older gentleman for having the beliefs that he does. I don’t fault him for being raised in a generation where “Boys don’t cry” was the default response to any male emotionality. I really don’t. He was raised with one version of social conditioning, and that isn’t his fault.
I am just so proud of the mother’s reaction. She couldn’t have handled it all any better than she did. And I feel so hopeful that, with mothers like her in the world, we are headed for an increasingly beautiful, accepting, and loving future.
I hope that this story touched you as much as the moment itself touched me.
And if you found this article inspiring, and want more emotionally encouraging mothers and fathers out there to know how valued they are, consider sharing this article with them to let them know that their way of being in this world is having a massively positive effect.
The more emotionally accepting we all are, the more the entire world benefits.