To the other woman crying in the car park this morning

I don’t know your name and I don’t suppose you know mine but we know each other through passing smiles of recognition on the way in and out of school, towing small reluctant cargo, grasping little hands tightly only to let them go for the day. I see your struggles when the reluctance boils over, your firm cheerfulness in the face of small fears, your soothing cuddles when it’s all too much.

I see the effort that it takes to hide your own fears, to master your own desire to run, screaming, back through the playground, to stay positive when there is  wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I see your hair growing drier, though the grey is dyed neatly away, and the glow fading from your skin, as the years pass, making us all older, the small ones taller. I see  you slick on the lipstick, before you get out of the car, and pull on a smile for each friend you meet.

I see the conversation in the playground when someone has a weird bug, or a discipline issue or a bullying friend. I see you take the time to chat, to share and take the weight.

And I see you on the days when it is just too much. The days when you cannot raise your head to meet the smile, cannot stop to chat, can only plough on to the door and back to the car because that is all the energy you have left.

I think today was one of those days for you, as it was for me and that is why I’m glad you’re here, because we are not alone, even as we sit alone here in our cars, behind our rainy windscreens. In a while, we will wipe our faces and drive on,  and never speak of it, knowing that today was one of those days for someone else and they were there to share it.