A few months ago, I became a first-time mom. And the moments since then have been some of the most beautiful and rewarding of my entire life.

Of course, these moments have also been frustrating, sleepless, and messy. Very, very messy. Runny noses wiped on my shirt, poop exploding into the air at a velocity I didn’t know existed, and spit-up that smells strongly of curdled milk staining every outfit I own.

And that’s OK. The mess is part of the blessing. One look into my child’s eyes reminds me of that.

I can always wipe up the snot, spit, and other messes, make sure the baby’s OK, and then work on making myself comfortable.

But sometimes I need help with that.

Like when I was burping my baby in a booth at Panera, simultaneously trying to catch up on work emails, and didn’t notice the huge trail of spit-up sliding down my back.

What I did notice was a soft voice saying, “Excuse me, honey, it’s on your back. Let me get it.” Then before I knew it, you were blotting my shirt with a napkin.

I thanked you immensely, and you went back to your table. That was it.

But that simple gesture meant so much, and it’s not something I’ll forget soon.

See, over the past few months, I’ve learned a lot. The beauty and preciousness of life. Why we make sacrifices. And now, thanks to you, the importance of community.

Being a parent is as tough as it is rewarding, but the tough times aren’t quite so difficult when we’re holding each other up.

I don’t know if you’re a parent yourself, or a grandparent, or an aunt. All I know is that you noticed me struggling, and that your simple action reminded me that I’m not in this alone.

You were a good neighbor. And you weren’t the only good neighbor that day.

So were the pair of ladies who stopped at my table to marvel at how soundly my baby was sleeping, and the cashier who carried my drink to the table because my hands were full, and the man who rushed to hold the door when he saw me lugging the baby carrier, diaper bag, and computer bag.

See, since becoming a mom I’ve experienced more joy and my heart has been filled with more love than I can describe. Love for my child, my husband, my family and friends, but also people like you — strangers guided by empathy and compassion.

So now, whenever I see a fellow mom struggling, I remember the simple yet meaningful act of kindness you gave me that day and how good it made me feel. And I ask myself whether there’s anything I can do for that person to share the neighborly love I’ve experienced myself.

About the author

Emily first started working for IJR back in 2013. She's served in capacities ranging from writer to editor to social media manager, and she is now Managing Editor of IJR and Dearly. Emily holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Rollins College, where she helped launch a social entrepreneurship curriculum. She is passionate about faith, family, travel, food, and making the world a better place.

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