Do you believe in angels?
Just not the typical, white-fairy-dust kind.
I met one a few months ago. He was short and a little chubby, with dark skin, green eyes, and appeared to be about six-years-old. Oh, and he was wearing the craziest orange goggles I’ve ever seen.
Let me give you a little background before I jump into the story. I am the mother of one, and I am not a typical mother. My daughter Stella is an extremely smart and opinionated two-year-old girl, who, at six months of age, decided that she would only drink milk from a bottle that her Daddy was holding. You can imagine the slew of self-deprecating thoughts that permeated my mind around Stella’s unbelievably inconvenient decision. Perhaps seasoned parents might have countered Stella’s ultimatum with one of their own, but as first-time parents, we acquiesced.
Despite Stella’s feeding idiosyncrasies, she and I have a wonderful, albeit, nontraditional relationship. I am kind of like the stereotypical father, taking on the role of playmate, teacher and confidante, whereas my husband, Diego, takes the lion’s share of daily tasks such as feeding, diaper changes, and baths. He is at a “Mom’s Club” meeting as we speak. I kid you not.
Although things have certainly become easier, there was a time when I took Stella on an outing with some trepidation since I only had a 2-3 hour time limit before she would need milk and therefore, her Daddy. Being the persistent Taurus that I am, I continually meet my fears head-on, and on more than one occasion, I have been rewarded with a sense of oneness that must be believed to be seen.
I’d like to tell you about one such occasion: the day I met an angel.
Stella and I were wading in a community pool, and despite the many health hazards that we were facing, all was well. Suddenly, a loud and stormy little boy came blazing toward us, arms and legs flailing simultaneously, like only a child can manage. The source of this unexpected uproar? This little boy just had to show Stella his new orange goggles. I thought, “What a show off!”
But when he took off his eye-pieces, I looked into his eyes and was astounded by what I saw: light, like the end of a tunnel–and whole, amazingly whole.
Then this little being proceeded, in an eerily calm manner, to motion toward Stella and tell me that, “She needs milk.” And even though my insecure mother-ego was dying to contradict him, I knew, in an instant, that he was right. Plus, he put his goggles back on and splashed away before I could protest.
The truth is, Stella did need milk, but she was having too much fun to admit to this defeat. She knew, as well as I did, that having milk meant packing up and going home. I knew that I had a battle ahead of me, to extricate her from the cool, comforting water, but somehow, knowing that my new advocate had my back, I felt empowered. As if the light in his eyes could guide me through what might unravel into a temper tantrum.
Regardless, in the world of two-year-olds, all roads eventually lead to the same place. Staying too long at the pool would also result in a tantrum if Stella’s hunger took over. (By the way, before you start calling child protective services, I did have a full supply of Goldfish, grapes, string-cheese, and water, just not milk. Because, as I had already learned, there was no point for me to lug milk around. You can lead a child to a bottle, but you just can’t make her drink.)
Miraculously, we made it home without much ado. Stella had her milk with her Daddy and took a nice long nap, perhaps dreaming of chlorine. While I learned, yet again, that help is always there when you need it, although it may appear from unlikely and underage sources. And, it’s okay to take help even when you have nothing to give in return. You can pay it forward later.
As Jerry Garcia wisely wrote, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
Sometimes, you just have to look beyond the goggles to see the soul waiting to shine. And if you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of your own strength in his or her reflection.
I am a writer and psychologist living in Western North Carolina. I have written two books, “Serendipity and the Search for True Self,” and “The Write to Heal: How Writing Heals.” Both are available on Amazon if you would like to take a look. I also write for dontburnthepig.org, a fan- based Dave Matthews Band website.
Ed: Emily P. Perry