People stand there and sigh and tell you that ‘it goes so quickly’ and you nod your head while pulling your toddler who is starting to wander off backward, by gently tugging on the belt loop of his little jeans, while simultaneously readjusting the baby who is balanced ‘just so’ on your hip. You smile at this well meaning acquaintance, while keeping an eye on the binky that keeps wanting to fall from your baby’s mouth, making a mental note to put yet another ‘spare’ into the diaper bag and remind your man to pick up another gallon of milk and some bananas tonight, on his way home from work.
Then you blink once. Only once. And you’re smoothing down that silky cowlick, biting your lip because it’s the first day of preschool and you’re worried the kids won’t like him. Maybe they won’t understand his meltdowns. You take a deep breath and smile into his eyes, and tell him to have fun and mind his teacher, and then blink away the tears that want to come.
You turn around, and your last one is in school all day, just like a big kid. You stand forlornly in the parking lot of the elementary school and watch as ‘seasoned moms’ flash grins and shout greetings to each other because they know exactly what they plan to do with their whole day, be it work, errands or fun. A few of them give you sympathetic looks and say encouraging things like, ‘It gets easier, I promise.’
And then suddenly you’re here and you don’t exactly know how you got here. You should have listened a little more closely to that lady sighing and telling you how quickly time passed that day… that yesterday, which was actually so very long ago. Now you stand almost looking them in the eye. You don’t bend to hug them anymore, you simply lean in. They smell of sweat and the great outdoors because they have been playing basketball down the street. Their feet are the same size as yours and they keep stealing your shoes and turning up the music, and asking for something to eat.
You stand in the middle now. Not wanting to blink because you know, but not being able to stop it from happening. Crisply aware that you have spent more time with them than you have left. Knowing it’s only going to be a few more blinks until you stand there watching a young mom patiently deal with the meltdowns in a grocery store candy aisle, or see her juggling infants, toddlers and paraphernalia while running errands. You know you will see the binky fall onto the Post Office floor and watch her roll her eyes. Not long at all until you smile and sigh and say, ‘Oh how quickly it goes…. enjoy it…’
She will of course nod and slide the baby onto the opposite hip while reaching into her bulging bag for a rattle and you’ll know she hears you but not really.
Because you were her. And it goes on… life goes on…. and how bittersweet are the changes.