I’m sitting here in a quiet corner of my local library, tapping away on my keyboard.
A few minutes ago, a mother and her three children sat down at a table a few feet away from me. The girls are, by my best guess, about six and ten years old. The boy seems to be somewhere in the middle.
They’re just an ordinary family. Like yours. Like mine. There’s not really anything terribly heroic about a trip to the library, I suppose.
And yet there is.
I’m observing this woman, out of the corner of my eye, as I sit safely and anonymously behind my laptop. They have captivated me. The youngest daughter is reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie aloud to her mom. The mother nods encouragingly.
"I can’t believe you can read that whole page!" she laughs. They shoot each other a high five.
To her other side, her son flips through what appears to be a book on anatomy. He leans in to his mother and points out a word. She seamlessly pauses in her work with her other child to help him.
"Abdominal," she helps him sound out, pointing to the page, and then pointing to her own belly. "It means your stomach muscles." The boy settles back in to his book.
The older daughter has been browsing the shelves, and she walks over to her mother, handing her a book. The mother glances through the jacket description, and she shakes her head.
"I don’t think so," she says, her nose slightly crinkled. "I don’t think that’s appropriate for you."
She’s really not doing anything that you and I haven’t done dozens–maybe hundreds, maybe thousands–of times. She’s multi-tasking. Whispering words of encouragement. Setting good boundaries. Stopping what’s she’s doing to help.
It’s just what moms do.
But I sit here, in this quiet moment, struck by the simple beauty of what she does, and what I do, and you do, everyday.
It’s ordinary. It’s common.
And it’s heroic.