I've exchanged niceties with an older neighbor lady while taking my morning walk for going on three years now. Our passing conversation is almost always the same. From my side of the street I say, "Mornin'. How're you doing?" She replies from her side of the street, "Have a wonderful day." I stopped seeing her toward the end of my pregnancy and worried. I was relieved to see her again on one of my first walks with Sam when he was just a few weeks old. I stopped her and let her know that I'd missed seeing her. She explained that, due to the weather, she was skipping her walks and doing water aerobics instead. She was a little shy about asking about Sam, but was obviously touched when I pulled back the sling so she could see his sleeping form. She said I'd made her day.
Karl went walking with us this morning and when we came upon her she remarked on our sling. She said, "I sure wish we had those when I had my babies." After we passed, Karl wondered aloud about what our mothers and grandmothers used to carry us. When we circled back home we found her watering her front yard. I stopped and asked how she carried her babies and she said, "Like this," and mimed carrying a baby on each hip. "Two of mine were born 16 months apart." This prompted a conversation about her family: four kids and six grandkids. "We all really like each other and enjoy getting together." Then she asked about Sam. When I told her he was a good, easy baby, she said, "All mine were good babies. A happy baby reflects happy parents."
It was around this time that Sam woke up. She was bolder this time about asking to see him and Karl turned so she could see his big blue eyes. He looked right at her, blinking in the sunlight. "Oh," she told him, "you just made my day." I felt weird not knowing her name, so I asked. When she said "Doris Evans" in the most comforting Texas accent I couldn't have been less surprised. Of course her name is Doris Evans. I introduced myself, Karl, and Sam, and we all expressed our happiness at knowing one another. Then she said two things that killed me. First, she said she was happy she'd get to see Sam grow up. Then, as we made to continue walking, she said her usual, "Have a wonderful day," but then added, "and a wonderful life."
I've run into other grandmothers on my morning walks with Sam and they've taught me so much. Every exchange is filled with pride. Every time I show my baby off to one of these older women we get caught up in a shared joy. I've gleaned from even the briefest of conversations with these women that the happiness and fulfillment of motherhood doesn't diminish, but grows over time. This amazes me. I already feel my life has expanded and become so much better. And it's only been three and a half months.