I met two very different people today.
We finally made it over to the library to get our new cards and check out books. They’ve got a wonderful children’s section that our kids could spend hours in every day and not get bored.
Shortly after we got there, while Kai took the kids to look at books and play and I sat and talked to Gus about life, a woman with a baby and a toddler came and sat near me. They were clean but a bit mismatched and untidy. I smiled and thought about how hard it is to get out of the house with a new baby and even harder with two. Dex and Veda came back by me and asked the little girl to play with them. The mom looked at me a little wary, like I might tell them not to play with her, but relaxed when I smiled and asked her how old the kids were.
Before she could answer another woman, her mother, joined her and had two large back packs and an empty gallon jug. She said she spent the last of the money on a cup of coffee but she knew someone they could stay with tonight.
The mother left and the younger woman glanced over at me just as Gus started to fuss. I smiled and started adjusting my clothes so I could nurse him and her baby started fussing too. She started the clothes adjustment dance as well and just like that we were both sitting there, nursing our babies while our kids played at the train table.
She had that tunnel vision look that you get when you don’t sleep because the baby is up all night and you are so drained from going non-stop and breastfeeding and running after toddlers. She closed her eyes for a few minutes and I made sure to keep an eye on the little girl so the young woman could rest for a few minutes.
About this time Gus was done and as I was burping him an older lady in a wheelchair came in with her grandkids. The kids immediately went to the train table where Dex, Veda, and the little girl were playing. They all said hi and settled into playing. The older lady frowned at the young woman nursing her baby and glanced at me. She rolled her eyes and snidely commented on the homeless problem in this town and how unfortunate it is that they come to the library to warm up.
I was a little flabbergasted. I said something about how I was glad there was such a nice library for all of us to use. She continued to try to make small talk with me but I was lost in thought. I felt like I should say something, put her in her place, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. She just kept talking to me and complaining about her son not finishing his PhD program yet and I just wanted to dump her out of that wheelchair. Everything inside of me screamed against not telling her off. The only things I could think of saying were little more than name calling so I said nothing more to her.
The young woman’s mother came back at this point and Dex and Veda decided it was time to check out their books. As we left and went back outside into the cold I thought about how thankful I was that they had a place to stay tonight. How hard it must be. How hard I feel like our life is sometimes and how close to the edge we’ve been before. But we’ve always at least had food to eat and a roof over our heads that we knew was going to be there tomorrow. Even when that roof was my in-laws basement. But what about their tomorrow? And what about people who make snide remarks and people like me, who don’t say anything.
I don’t know what that young woman’s story is, if they are homeless or some other situation is going on. I wish I had talked to her and found out if there was something I could do. My heart hurts tonight and I don’t know how to fix it. I am thankful for meeting both of those women. I’m thankful for having my heart hurt about this and wanting to help.
What would you have done? Told the old lady off? Talked to the young woman more to find out what their situation was? Not say anything?