So, this happened in the blink of an eye.
Sixteen years ago I was in a mall parking lot, wrestling with a foldable stroller while my toddler waited in the car to be released from his carseat. A woman passed me and said “I don’t miss those days.” I glared at her, finally got the stroller upright and locked and watched her walk away, by herself, carrying only a small purse. The memory is so clear, it’s as if it just happened.
Tomorrow will be my 18th Mother’s Day. Eighteen years of celebrating the hardest, most rewarding job I will ever have. Through the years, this day has changed significantly for me. I no longer receive hand-made cards and gifts with cute rhyming poems, cut-out hands listing reasons why I’m loved. My sons don’t run into my room at six am, jump on me and try to pry my eyelids open because they can’t wait another moment to hug or kiss me.
I no longer want to escape for an afternoon, spend some time shopping by myself, eat at a restaurant where the only meat I have to cut is my own, wearing something feminine, a nice break from spit-stained jeans.
Now, I have more free time than I know what to do with. My boys sleep until noon on the weekends leaving my husband and I to eat breakfast alone, giving me a glimpse into our future. It will be just us again soon. He and I, before the adventure began.
I’m not saying Mother’s Day is not wonderful now. It is. I’m surrounded by three men who I love more than I thought was possible. I can’t ask for more. It’s just…different.
I am also fortunate enough to be able to spend the day with my mother. Many of my friends don’t enjoy the same luxury. Their Mother’s Day will be spent with the memory of the very first person who loved them unconditionally. If you have your mother, hold onto her a bit longer when you see her. You don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
I look at the moms of young children, at the store, the exasperation on their faces as they try to focus on their task while the repetitive Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, follows them up and down the aisles. Don’t take it for granted, I want to tell them. Don’t wish for these days to pass because they will – without mercy. And you’ll be nearing fifty, getting ready to send your baby to college, wishing for one more peanut-butter crusted, sticky-hugged, Sesame Street filled day.
I am now that woman in the parking lot who passed the younger me, struggling with the stroller. With one difference: I do miss those days. I miss them like crazy.
Happy Mother’s Day.