Last week I was having a morning to myself to catch up on some work. It is kind of a luxury as a work from home mum to have some time without 2 adorable toddlers emploring me for another drink, a sandwich or to play another round of the memory game, a few overs of cricket or a couple of sets of balloon tennis.
But here I was on my Friday morning, two toddlers enjoying their kinder and playgroup morning and me, laptop in hand, spreading myself out at the local cafe for some coffee, some phone calls, some emails, some writing and some toasted banana bread.
On this particular day I had to catch up on some admin work for Heartfelt, the charity organisation where I am the Volunteer State Rep.
Fifteen minutes in to my peace (well it was peaceful in that it was void of my toddlers, but it was anything but quiet), I received my coffee and took a call and proceeded to type. There were lots of mums catching up for coffee after the school drop off, some small xmas breakup gatherings and a table of students enjoying the morning off from exams. It was pretty noisy actually, but it didn’t stop me from doing what I set out to do. Then the lady on the table next to me turned around, I looked at her and smiled and she said “just how long are you going to be doing that for?” “I beg your pardon?” I responded a little confused. “That tapping. How long are you going to be tapping on that thing pretending you are in an office not a cafe?”
At that point I was in that kind of state of shock that requires some thought about how to proceed. I mumbled something about whether she was going to ask everyone else in the coffee shop to refrain from making any noise, but I really was a little dumbfounded.
She turned around and in my head I had worked out that this is what I needed to say to her:
” Excuse me lady. But whilst you are sitting there on your backside reading a magazine and whinging to the waitresses about eggs just delivered to your table (which by the way looked great to me) and complaining to me about the tapping of my fingers on the computer in a cafe that always encourages me to use their wifi, I am sitting here using my only 3 toddler free hours for the week typing up and inputting the data for families that are this week about to lose their precious babies and children. Families whose 6 year old will not be there to open Christmas presents this year. Families who requested we turn up at 3 am to take photos of their stillborn babies as these are the only tangible memories they will have. Families who have spent every day for months sitting by a hospital cot only to be told there is no hope. I am tapping away this information and speaking to social workers and midwives here in this cafe because there are no rules about when and where these tragedies take place. The call comes in and I respond. Part of me is angry at you for thinkning that the tapping of computers and runny eggs is so bad that you have to spread your anger and bitterness. The other part of me pities you because the fact you find these things so bad, makes me think there is very little in your life that brings you joy.”
But I didnt say this. I nearly did. But I held my tongue and went back to my tapping.
Maybe she has just had bad news herself. Maybe she had recently been told her mother has cancer. Mayber her partner just lost his job. Maybe she is the grandmother of one of these precious babies I am organising photos for. Maybe not. But maybe.
I guess we never know what is going on in other peoples worlds. We need to remember this. We need to remember to be kind.