Invisible Connection

My eyes swung up from the water as you and your son entered.  I immediately felt a connection blossom behind my navel.  A thin, invisible thread between you and me, though you were unaware of our similarities.  I watched, as did some of the other mothers, from my bench as you and your son made your way to our end of the pool.  I saw your hands guiding him, the halting steps as his body leaned in so close, his eyes darting around, your cheeks pink from the heat of the room, or the heat of prying eyes.  As you passed by me I saw the dark circles under your eyes, the way you held yourself, and the determination in your jaw.  I did not avert my gaze and you looked down at me, our eyes locked, and I smiled big.  You smiled back at me.

I wanted to watch you, but I didn’t want to stare, as some of the other mothers were staring from across the small pool, their eyes wide and their faces blank.  In my peripheral vision I could see your son’s hands, always moving.  Flitting about his face, to your hair, your shirt, your gentle smile.  He put his arm around your neck, his face so close to yours, and kissed you over and over.  You did not pull away, only redirected his attention.  I saw love.

I couldn’t help but watch as his lesson started, in the lane next to my son’s, his long body immediately relaxing as he floated on a noodle.  I wanted to catch your eye again, but you were focused on him, just as I am usually focused on my own special son.  I noticed your towel bag, with the blue whale and the “I love water!” written on the side.  I thought about how it is the perfect bag for my son too, and I wanted to tell you.

If you gave any thought to me at all, wondered which of the four boys was mine, I will never know.  You couldn’t know how we are connected.

The Roc’s lesson ended before your son’s.  I coaxed him to stay with me while I waited for the shower area to clear out.  When it was empty I let him stand under the spray.  Then I did glance back to our, now your, end of the pool.  You sat alone, leaning forward, elbows on your knees, chin in your hand, your cheeks still rosy.

You never looked up, never looked around the small pool at the few small children remaining.  You were watching your boy.

A small smile on your lips, your eyes full of pride.

I smiled watching you, wondering about the years leading up to this point.  I saw myself in you, and then I saw what the world sees as they watch me while I watch my son.  I hadn’t thought about it, always consumed by my feelings in the moment, and I felt that invisible thread once again.  Tugging on my heart, reminding me of how much I learn and gather strength from those who are also walking a different path.

I don’t know if I will see you again tomorrow.  If I do, I’ll try not to stare, but I will catch your eye if I can, and I’ll smile big.

We are connected.

Even if I am the only one who knows.

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11 thoughts on “Invisible Connection

  1. This. This is beautiful.
    I felt this same thing a few weeks ago. In a hotel, we were in an elevator. Family with three kids comes in, boy (7ish) walks to me. Puts his arms around me for a hug. His mom gently pulls him away, he comes back for another. She says “sorry, he’s a hugger.” I say, “I have one of those too.” that’s it. Nothing else. But I knew. And I think she knew too.
    Thank you for writing this so beautifully.

  2. Yes, that connection- it really is incredible when it happens, and you have captured it so eloquently. Funnily enough, almost the exact opposite thing happened yesterday when I took Pudding swimming.

  3. this is superbly written. I am in awe of your writing. I have been the mother you describe – focused only on my child and actively avoiding the rest of the world. Thank you for your kindness towards her.
    It is a rare thing.

  4. Brought tears, you are an awesome inspiration for other mothers. I long to be able to communicate as beautifullly as you do. Please keep these special moments coming to us, I truly need to read them. Thank you my friend

  5. This is beautiful. I have made those silent connections, too. I could so relate to this, as my son just started swimming lessons for the first time and all I can do is sit and watch and watch…

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