Warm blood rushed to my chest, filling it uncomfortably; my eyes began to burn. I was compelled to take a deep breath, or two or three. Standing in line, watching my groceries pass before my eyes with the accompanying “beep”, I leaned against the small beige counter. For some reason, it felt as though it was holding me up as I gulped and forcefully blinked the unexpected tears from my eyes. I had to wipe a persistent one away, reaching under my glasses as discreetly as possible. “Beeeeppppp!”
The sweet baby could not be more than a year and a half. She sat attentive in the seat of the shopping cart, the cold metal not able to diminish how simply adorable she was. She wore a cute yellow romper and sandals with ankle socks. She delighted in every move her weary mother made loading the groceries onto the conveyer belt.
“Yes, the nights are the longest!”
“Yes, EVERY 2 to 3 hours!”
“And then I have to go deal with all the people at work, absolutely exhausted!”
Her mother chatted with a sympathetic mother the next aisle over, seemingly relieved to have the opportunity to vent. She was a beautiful woman, yet it was hard to miss the exhaustion she surely felt. Her pale complexion, the dark circles and her monotone voice; the badge of a new mom. Yet, I knew just by looking at the sheer joy of her child, she was an amazing mom. Tired, yes , but still amazing. It was not that long ago, I would often repeat similar blanket statements (pardon the pun).
“The complete exhaustion is the hardest part.”
“You don’t realize how truly tired you were until normal sleeping patterns gloriously return.”
It was in that moment that a memory interrupted me so vividly, so all encompassing. She sat so content and amused in the the shopping cart. I had carefully coordinated her outfit and ensured she had her sippy cup. I had gently brushed her soft wisps of brown hair and carefully brushed her budding teeth. She looked like such a big girl sitting upright and engaged in her elevated perch. Her bright, dark eyes relished in every move I made loading groceries in the cart. Her tiny feet playfully dangling and swinging, adding to her amusement. She giggled and smiled authentically.
When we where done, I could not help but snap a picture of her, my love for her causing me to stop ( this was before cellphone cameras). I, too, was exhausted and most likely frazzled by my to do list. I am so grateful that I captured this moment.
A part of me wanted to interrupt and share this memory with the mom that stood dutifully loading her groceries, totally oblivious to my bulging emotion. I stopped myself. I just marveled at her little one, completely and utterly enjoying whatever time she got to spend with her mother.
My teen daughter recently commented with a playful smirk, “Mom, you just sit there so quiet and watch everything.” It is true. I discover myself simply marveling in my children all the time. I am certain half the time they are rolling their eyes on the inside, but that does not in the least deter me from appreciating the gifts I have been given.
I arrive now to this revelation, there was a time that I was their world, causing it to spin and rotate with every move I made and every consonant I uttered in their presence. Now, it just so happens…they are and forever will be, mine.