You caught me staring. I quickly looked away. Moments later I couldn’t help but look again and immediately you saw me. I smiled. I could sense your stress. I could sense your urgency to move along as quickly as you could. I could sense that you felt you were on the clock. You fumbled in your bag for a couple of minutes and finally pulled out some crackers to hand to him while you moved along to select a couple of peppers.
It feels like yesterday that I was you. Today I move at a slower pace throughout the store than I did back then. Today I calmly choose my selections. I stop to look up a recipe on my phone and make sure I am getting all the necessary ingredients. You however, stand in front of the bagels and ask him which one he wants. He points at the blueberry and you place it in a bag for him. You lean over and kiss him gently on the forehead and he giggles. It is in that moment that I am flooded with memories. I know all too well how annoying it is to be stared at with what can only be described as the “enjoy it mama because it goes way too fast” stare. Yet here I am staring at you and thinking that exact thought.
I have no idea how I got here. As I walk down the aisles with no one to entertain with each stop of the shopping cart, I wonder where the time actually went. When I was in it I felt like I was never going to go the grocery store and remember everything I needed because someone was always crying. Luckily it was rarely me, but shopping with a baby and a toddler is pretty much the equivalent of taking the Bar exam while running a half marathon, IMPOSSIBLE. I never came home with everything I had intended to buy. I was just thankful that I came home with both of my children and that I remembered the milk.
I remember smiling nervously at people behind me on line as my tired child began to melt down. I remember feeling like the checkout belt had to move faster than it was moving. I remember feeling like I should not be sweating so much from a simple trip to the grocery store. I remember loading groceries into the back of my SUV in the pouring rain, and strapping my youngest into his car seat all while hoping and praying that he would not in fact fall asleep on the short car ride home because I really needed him to nap. I needed him to nap so that I could unpack all the groceries and cry about the fact that I had forgotten to buy the flipping milk.
It’s not easy to be where you are. If someone tries to tell you it is they are lying, but I want you to know that despite the difficulty it is a sweet spot in time. You don’t need me to tell you that this time will pass because you know how time works, but if you will allow me just for a moment I want to tell you to get the bagel, kiss his forehead, and take a deep breath. The world will keep moving despite the fact that you forgot the milk, again. The people on line behind you will forget about the fact that your child was whining and crying the entire time you were checking out. You will look for a fast forward button more times than you can count on what seems like a simple grocery store trip. I promise you though that one day in the future you will look into your organized cart, full of food and milk, and you will miss that bagel eating buddy.
I have always known that times moves fast. Nothing proves this more though than having children. The ironic part of parenthood is that most of the time you don’t realize how much you loved a stage until that stage has passed. I have yet to encounter a stage of parenthood that I would describe as easy. They all come with challenges, but I have yet to look back upon a stage that has passed and not missed it. Sometimes it’s from a distance that we realize just how perfect that horrible, difficult stage of parenthood was. Sometimes I forget the milk just so I can go back with one of the kids after school. We might happen to stop for a bagel on those occasions.