She sat across from me as we went over the more mundane points of enrolling – registration, financial aid, scheduling. Her preschoolers, having lost their interest in the boring process long ago, were climbing all over her and begging to leave.
She wasn’t phased. She was determined to get through the information.
As our meeting ended we exchanged pleasantries. She apologized for not having childcare and for bringing her small children. “It’s okay,” I told her. “I have kids, too.“
“I know, I see your pictures,” she said in broken English as she pointed to the photos behind me. “Your kids look nice.”
“Sure, they look nice in pictures!” I laughed.
“They always look nice in pictures!” she agreed as she laughed with me. That’s the thing about laughter. It’s the same in every language.
And then she said it – half joking, half not, with a twinkle in her eye: “But you get to have a break from them every day.”
I don’t believe for one second that she would have put her babies in daycare and gone to work full-time if she had the opportunity. But we all have that moment when we recognize that someone else has a piece of what we want.
So I told her “…and you get to be with your kids all the time.”
But the best part of this interaction was that we were able to freely admit it to each other without any sense of jealousy. Without any maliciousness. Without any longing. Just a passing little acknowledgement that our side of the fence isn’t all rainbows and roses and the other side of the fence isn’t all mud pits and landfills.