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The Power of a Smile

5 July 2010 One Comment

It’s a mystery how moms have the energy to get through the day to day, especially in those early years. We’re clearly not drawing our super powers from excessive amounts of rest and relaxation, and the incessant needs and demands, the soundtrack of Nick Jr. in the background intermixed with screams and squeals can sometimes seem to drain every last drop of energy from our bodies.

How do we get through the next big task, the next trip to the grocery store, the necessary trip to the DMV with toddler in tow? I don’t know that I have it entirely figured out, but I’ve discovered over the last 2 years that there is one thing that a complete stranger can give me that always gives me that one extra bar on my battery, that last little bit of charge until I can get home and collapse. A smile.

It can come from anyone, the friendly gentleman who holds the door open for you while you drag your child, kicking and screaming, out to the car after an over stimulating play date at the mall. It can be the older woman, the one you can tell just by looking at her face that she’s “been there, yelled that,” who smiles knowingly and sweetly as you tell your temperamental toddler as calmly as you can muster, “NO. We do NOT throw our fries at strangers.” It can even be the fellow exhausted new mother, the one sporting matching bags under her eyes and yoga pants, who nicely looks up and smiles as you struggle to get your infant in car seat, diaper bag and purse past her in a restaurant while narrowly missing her face with your elbow.

When my son was 4 weeks old we embarked on what is now referred to as the “Cross Country Insanity Tour.” He and I flew from the East Coast to Texas by ourselves to visit family and house hunt. Before we set out for the airport, I was TERRIFIED. I was running on 2 hours of sleep, recovering from my second round of mastitis and developing an allergic reaction to the antibiotics I was taking (though I wouldn’t realize that’s what the itchy bumps all over me were from until I landed in TX hours later). To this day, I have no idea how I physically survived that trip. Really, I should have collapsed in the middle of the terminal. Time and time again, though, at every turn, there was another mother, another kind man, another sweet lady smiling. Even when I was holding up the security line, struggling to get my baby out of the Moby wrap, they smiled. It made all the difference.

So next time you’re out and you see a mom with a screaming infant or a testy toddler, a mom who looks pushed beyond her limits, who might have a scowl on her face or pursed lips from the pent up frustration, do her a favor. Just smile. You have no idea how far that might take her.

Tell me about a time a strangers smile helped you get through a rough day.

Jill Krause is a blogger and BornFree Mom Panel Member.

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