To the girl in the café, 

I know you may not read this but I still do want to write this addressing  you. I had noticed you almost immediately as I had entered the café on that bright afternoon. I know you had noticed me a little later when my elder one spilled milk and the younger one crawled all over the cafe floor, while I attempted some damage control. What a sight ! Yeah I know. You must know that I get stared at a lot when my kids are not on their best behavior in public places. I am sadly used to being judged. So I did not mind your looking at me so intently, as you stole glances while conversing with the handsome guy you were having coffee with. 
I actually looked at both of you and smiled to myself reminiscing my time, having coffee in that manner, in leisure, enjoying a conversation, talking about little things in life or the future that lay ahead. That was some years ago, not many though. In my own imagination, I had paired the both of you up and something told me you were seeing each other. There is something about the courtship period where you enjoy love without falling for the mundane routine of life. A certain twinkle in the eyes and an eagerness to know each other better. I have been there, done that. 
I walked up to the counter of the café, to let someone know about the wet floor and order another glass of milk. As I stood in the queue waiting for my turn, you came up right behind me in the queue. We exchanged smiles. And then you asked me while looking at my kids “It must be a lot of work, isn’t it?” 
“Yes it is a lot of work, but it does not feel that way. That’s the thing with having kids. You do things you never imagine you could.”, I said. 
“I was actually looking at you with my fiancé back there and we were thinking this is how our life would be a few years from now. Would it be the same, would it be tougher or would it be more fun? “ 
I was now beginning to understand why you had been looking at me. You were not judging me for the children’s behavior or my hassled demeanor. You were not thinking I could have done better as a mom. It was none of that, thankfully so. You were imagining the life ahead of you, a life that you would possibly want to build with your fiancee. You were imagining yourself a few years from now. I knew I had to be honest to you. 
“It will not be the same, I can tell you that much. It will be better, it will be more fun and it is going to be tougher all at the same time. I do envy you because I can rarely go on a date and enjoy coffee like that anymore.  I have had what you have now and I loved that then. But I like what I have now and it is beautiful and totally worth it (for me)”, I explained while rocking the baby in the bjorn and keeping an eye on the elder one. 
You were half expecting this answer I could tell. You were a little surprised but you were happy to hear it too. I think you needed to hear it too. I had not raised any false hopes nor had I painted a rosy picture.  That is how life has been for me and many like me and will be perhaps for you.  Life is such. We spend so much time thinking and planning for what may come. But as we live through it and reflect upon it later, it just feels as though it was all a natural transition. All of it enjoyable, beautiful, trying and agonizing, all at the same time. 
There is one thing I did not tell you at the café though. Thank you. Thank you for not judging me. That is extremely rare.

Story and Picture Credit : Piya Mukherjee 

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