When my oldest son was born, I quit my full-time office job to stay home with him. When we realized I needed a paycheck to keep our family finances afloat, I took a retail job at our local Buy Buy Baby.
As a sales associate, it was my job to help our customers, mainly expecting and new parents, find the things that would meet their needs or solve their current problems. As a new mother, myself, this was easy for me to do. But the longer I worked there, the more I realized that my presence met a different kind of need for some of my customers.
In my early days of new, stay-at-home motherhood, I was lonely. The days were long. My constant companion only communicated by crying, cooing and the occasional, fleeting smile. Desperate to encounter another adult in my day, I would go to my neighborhood baby store, hoping someone else would initiate a conversatior or, at the very least, tell me how cute my baby was. Sometimes all I got was an exchange with the cashier, but somehow, it still helped me understand that there was still a world outside my home with people in it who existed.
Working at the baby store, I began to recognize the isolated new mothers. The ones who came seeking something they couldn't really name. I saw myself in their tired eyes. I saw their unacknowledged ache, the tears that they refused to shed in public but were sick of pouring out hidden inside their homes. I saw mothers stepping out into an unchanged world, shell shocked from the transformation that was still actively erupting through their own hearts.
I saw them.
I knew them.
I had been them. And I had become someone else. I knew how lonely it can be. I also knew how amazing it would be once they came out the other side, once the haze began to melt away, once they began to discover the wonder of their metamorphosis. Once they realized their babies were really fascinating people that they would become so eager to get to know. I knew from connecting with them as they shopped for nursing covers or the right bottle nipples or swaddling blankets. I knew they were grateful for the little I could offer.
And I knew that they would be okay.
And now, I get to offer more. And to tell you, I see you, too. I know what it's like. I'm here for you. And you will be okay.