from the RUNNING IN HIGH HEELS™ series by Jane F. Collen

It is very difficult to commute to midtown Manhattan pushing a stroller, wearing high heels.

But for a few years I did it. I had unusual, complicated childcare arrangements– beginning with some time of the coverage for my first and second daughters revolving around meeting my mother in midtown and passing the babies off to her — hence the mad dash from Grand Central Station in pedestrian rush hour, taking other commuters out with stroller wheels. 😉

Jocelyn Commuting

Particularly harrowing was crossing the streets. The pedestrians would bunch at the corner, eyes on the changing lights, never looking down to see why there was a space between me and the people in front of me, just pushing forward to fill it. On many occasions fellow commuters came face to face with my daughter as they tried to prevent themselves from riding on top of her and the stroller. My first baby, Jocelyn, always remained unperturbed. She was a remarkably even-tempered child, just happy to be along for the ride.

One day, after narrowly preventing an excessively high-heeled woman from perching on the front of the stroller like the figurehead on a bow of a boat, I pulled the stroller out of the pedestrian traffic and hugged the side of a building, breathing heavily. I needed a moment to regain my courage to complete the distance to the train station. While I stood next to her, panting, my13-month-old sat calmly in her stroller gazing out at the harried masses. Another woman paused directly in front of me to look through her brief case. She muttered in dismay at the lack of something important in her bag. She snapped it shut with a look of chagrin on her face and glanced our way. She looked down at my daughter. I did too. My daughter looked at her, and seemed to be trying to decide something: the corners of her mouth twitched up, but then stayed in a line. Suddenly she broke out into a smile. Her whole face lit up as she gazed at the woman.IMG_2322-2

“You are the first person to smile at me all day,” she said. “Thank you!” and then she smiled too.

Jocelyn clapped and we moved on.

Ahh, the ephemeral magic of a baby’s smile!



And Jocelyn’s smile continues to brighten people’s lives. Her compassion shines through and has touched and changed so many lives – from the students at Fairfield whom she guides and counsels to the people she and her students minister on their emersion trips. Congratulations Jocelyn – now you will influence so many more people in your new job as Director of Campus Ministry at Regis College.

Sometimes, during the rush of working through motherhood, running around in high heels, I forgot to take the time to enjoy the smiles.

But, I have my memories! And the memory of Jocelyn bringing out her full smile to a harried woman brings a smile to my face, still.

A smile can certainly bring a magical change to someone’s life.

Now I have a granddaughter who, at a week old, is already thinking about smiling. I can see the sleep smiles already.IMG_2329I have learned my lesson: I will not rush through being a grandparent. I will let the baby magic change my life!

© Jane F Collen May 21, 2015


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