I strolled out of the grocery store and noticed a young mom heading in my direction, pushing a shopping cart, where her baby boy sat looking up at her. Those were the days, I thought reflexively. It’s what I always think when I see a little one. Every time it leaves me amazed and, honestly, a little sad that mine are seventeen and twelve. Already. So fast. And I feel the ache that comes with missing hugs and giggles and the time when just being together was more than enough.
Young Mom pushed the cart in my direction and I smiled down at her blonde headed cutie with camo pants. I guessed he was about eighteen months old.
“Your baby’s beautiful,” I started as we neared one another, both of us stopping as I spoke. She gave me a half smile that seemed to be there only because of effort. “Oh, I miss this age so much,” I said, full of longing. Young Mom remained quiet. Her half smile faded.
“I know these days are hard work,” I continued, wanting to encourage her, “but they go so fast. Everyone says it and it’s painfully true.”
I wanted to remind her of the good things in her midst.
“I miss these days and things like the way their heads fit so perfectly in the crook of your neck. I remember closing my eyes and trying to memorize the feeling of it when mine were little. Don’t you love it?”
She looked like she wanted to cry. “I”m just so tired,” she said slowly, softly. Then the tears came.
“Oh, it’s gonna be okay,” I said. “I know it’s hard. Really hard. But he’ll get easier. He will. For now, he adores you and how often in life does anyone adore us?”
She nodded slightly.
Now my own eyes were filling. The tears came for her, for me and my own struggles, for all the difficulties that come with being a mom, regardless of what stage you’re in. “Mine is seventeen and is pushing away as hard as your is grabbing on. And I promise you’ll miss this.”
She nodded and smiled through the tears. “I guess motherhood makes us emotional,” she said as we hugged. Oh fellow mamas, it does indeed.
Two strangers with sons at opposite ends of childhood, both of us feeling the difficulty of navigating the waters of motherhood, a job that’s never easy, a job that can shred us to our core and fill us up to overflowing.
"I know it's hard. Look for something to savor because it'll be gone before you know it." The words intended for her were ironically meant for me, too. And for you.
Through it all, we moms must be here for each other. Yes, we will celebrate the good stuff, but we also have to be real and talk about the imperfect parts, the struggles, the times we let our kids down or they do likewise. We have to do this because no one understands like we do.
Be open to it. Be looking for it. Strangers in a “chance” meeting outside the grocery store. Old friends sitting around the kitchen table or connected by an invisible phone line. I have your back. You have mine. Together is how we will best get through the hard parts and celebrate the sweetness of this rollercoaster journey we call motherhood.