I didn’t remember, not at first.
Ten years ago I was dropping off my son who was only three – too young in my mind – to begin his first day of school.
Even with the staggered start the scene was chaotic. Cars parked in the kiss-and-ride area, kids unwilling to go into the schoolyard, grabbing onto their mom’s coat with a steely grip, while others ran around the fenced-in playground yelling and playing.
Amidst the frenzy I spotted her. Another mom off to the side who looked like she was having a hard time so I walked over, hugged her, and gave her a few words of encouragement.
Only for the longest time I didn't remember this day, because as I walked away from the school yard knowing my little guy was clinging to the fence calling out after me, I burst into tears and did my own ugly cry all the way home. That part I remember very clearly. After being with him every day for three years and ten months, I felt like I had been downsized. I spent the two hours he would be at school first crying, then trying to ice my swollen eyes so I didn’t look like I had been crying.
Fast forward 11 years and that little boy I left hanging onto the school fence was now in high school and receiving an award for being on the Honour Roll.
I was waiting for him in the hallway after the ceremony when she came up to me.
“I don’t know if you remember me,” she said.
But of course I knew who she was. Our kids – her daughter and my son - had gone through 10 years of school together. I had seen her when we volunteered on class trips and at holiday concerts and fun fairs. We had chatted occasionally and last year she had given my son a ride home from school when it was raining. It was that friendship in passing that happens between so many mothers.
And then she told me.
She was the mom I hugged that day many years ago and she wanted to thank me. Standing with her in that high school hallway the memory came rushing back; all of it. The chaos of the drop off, trying to put on my brave face for my little boy who didn't want to go to school and the mom I spotted who needed a boost.
Never underestimate the impact your kindnesses have on the world.
I didn’t remember, but she did.