If you see me out and about and it looks like I just rolled out of bed, there’s a reason for that. I likely did just roll out of bed. I am told, in fact, that I literally roll out of bed although I’m not quite sure what that means. And on a day like today, I have already allowed myself several opportunities to roll in and to roll out of bed. It is rather damp and grey after all, and the pubs, bars, and restaurants can wait.
Earlier, however, I was out searching for something to write about. It isn’t always that easy. Today especially, my mind wandered, it wandered too much. Not much to look at, I suppose, and I found myself focusing on women with children. In my neighborhood we have quite a few of those; they are hard to avoid. Women, children, and squirrels. Cute little things. Usually though I kick them aside as I race toward Tilia or the hardware store, not paying them much attention. Not today.
I had stopped at a small park — a bench, really — on a corner set in our neighborhood’s shops.
Walking up the hill, slowly in big long strides a slender woman pushed a carriage while pulling along a stumbling toddler. Walking past me toward the coffee shop another woman pushed along an infant in a stroller, wrapped in pink and blue. Perhaps a third child, the sibling of an older brother and sister wrapped in hand-me-downs. And across the way, walking toward my direction home, still another woman, dressed in a lime green rag sweater and black tights, herded along two young boys.
None of the women I saw today could be said to have much in common. They likely live in nearby and have a child or two. That’s it. But there is still something unmistakably similar about them. It is the way they move, I think. Whether hurried, annoyed, or slowly rambling, each of these women moved with sense of contentment. Maybe it is a sense of responsibility that’s just part of being a mother.
The woman in the sweater stuck with me. I watched her walk toward my place, slowly and deliberately. I watched the boys. And I had one of those “what if” experiences. An epiphany. There never has been and likely never will be a woman in my life with two young boys walking to my home. And this seemed like a brutally honest fact.
The women seemed to understand something entirely different. That’s what they had in common. They had achieved something; evolved into a role, maybe. At any rate, they appeared comfortably resigned to an unalterable fate that entitled them to a smug, happy walk. They had individually achieved a shared accomplishment and thus shared a destiny both fulfilled and just begun.
Me, on the other hand…well, guys like me end up standing on street corners, reading billboards aloud, and scaring the neighbors.
But then I don’t know. We all can’t be mothers, obviously. We all don’t need to have children. And isn’t it good that someone does take the time to watch it all? I’m sure the people who created the billboards appreciate it. Just a little.
So anyway…what is going on in Minneapolis today?