This International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a story about a woman who touched my life, and probably will never realise the impact her kindness had on me, one rainy December day, seven years ago.

My first baby was 4 months old. I was deep in the throes of post-natal depression and anxiety. Mr O and I were at our Monday baby group. It was a small, quiet group at our local children’s centre. It felt safe and familiar to me.

One day, I arrived and he had fallen asleep in his pram. This was enough to unsettle me; I was here and wanted to go inside, but he was asleep… I couldn’t take his pram inside, and I couldn’t pick him up in case I woke him. I stood outside at the buggy park, feeling awkward and unsure of what to do. I noticed a lot of other parents arriving at the group that day. The voices inside my head started to pipe up, “All these people will think you’re really weird, just standing outside here. They’ll think you’re a bad mother.”

A smiling lady parked her buggy next to me. “Just bring the pram inside” she encouraged me. Buoyed by her energy and enthusiasm, I took him in.

I stood in the foyer of the centre, feeling increasingly anxious. The voices went into overdrive: “What are you even doing here? You’re not allowed to bring the pram in here. Mr O is asleep and can’t do the Christmas craft. Everyone is looking at you” (spoiler alert: I doubt anyone gave two shits I was standing there with my sleeping baby).

The lady kept sticking her head around the door to smile at me. “Why don’t you come and sit down?” “I’m not sure I’m going to stay” I replied. The panic rose up inside me, flooding my face. I felt the hot tears sting my eyes, and the instinct to run kicked in (I’m a flyer, not a fighter).

“I think I’ll take him home” I said, grabbing my pram and bolting for the door.

The lady came running out of the door behind me and stopped me on the ramp. “Come back inside” she pleaded.

What I remember most of all about this, and still it gives me shivers to this day, was the fact she was standing in her socks.

It was cold, and raining. She stood in the freezing cold and rain, in December, with no shoes on. Just to be kind to me.

I went back inside that day.

Natalie came into my life for a brief season, but she touched my life in a way that will stay with me forever. She was a friend and tonic in a time of great loneliness and isolation. I will never forget the kindness she showed me.

Women are an incredible force.

Thank you, Natalie.