It happened today. I was at the supermarket, replenishing and repairing the damage that my ravenous teenager and pre-teen did to my pantry and fridge over the weekend. Suddenly, I heard the gasps, squeals, and coos from across the store and recognized what was going on immediately.
I rounded the corner to the checkout and there she was, in all of her “Gerber baby” glory. A precious, probably eight-month-old baby girl, sitting in the basket, grinning from ear to ear, with a collection of grandmothers gathered around her, like some kind of rock band groupies. I looked on as the baby’s equally adorable, but clearly sleep-deprived young mom loaded the conveyor belt with her purchases while checkers, baggers, and other ladies gathered around to cluck and preen over her precious baby.
“Enjoy every moment, because it goes so fast,” advised one lady to the mother.
“She’s such a good baby! You must enjoy her so much,” exclaimed another.
The baby’s mother, her hair in a messy bun, yesterday’s eye makeup lurking beneath her eyes, wearing a spit up-stained sweatshirt and baggie, faded yoga pants, nodded and smiled politely.
You see, I’m on the other side of the fence, now, but I swear to you, it wasn’t that long ago at all that I was that weary mother in the supermarket with her adorable baby.
Not to brag, but I had those babies that people come from the other side of the store to ogle. My kids were those round, cherub-cheeked babies with the flirty eyes that drew oohs and ahhs from even the staunchest, grumpiest old ladies at the grocery store.
Women came up to me in the grocery store all the time to tell me, “Enjoy every moment because it goes SO fast.”
I’d smile and nod, while thinking to myself, “I wish it went faster because I’m not sure I can make it until nap time.”
Because, at that stage in life, I lived from nap time to nap time, anxiously trying to fill our days with activities, but also quiet moments at home with books and cuddles. There were some days that felt like they went on forever and some that were over in the blink of an eye. I remember counting the minutes until my husband would get home from work–sometimes even meeting his car in the driveway–so that I could pass the baby off and lock myself in the bedroom for a while. Those days were sometimes a struggle, but, in hindsight, also so precious.
My kids are 13 and 11 now and these days, when I see moms in the grocery store with their babies, I’m hit with a pang of nostalgia. It truly feels like yesterday that that was me. And, I do feel compelled to tell these moms to relish it all because you’ll look up and suddenly, POOF! that season of life is over.
So, if you see me in H-E-B one day, and I’m staring wistfully at you and your baby with tears in my eyes, know what I mean well. And, while I probably wouldn’t want to trade places with you for more than a few hours, I do vividly remember what it feels like to be you. Seeing you, with your babies in the shopping cart, takes me right back to that place in my life. I remember the highs, but also the lows of that time, but mostly, I want to tell you, “Cherish every moment because it really and truly goes so fast.”