One day I will be that woman in line at the grocery store who looks longingly and knowingly. I will be that woman who stands on the perimeter of wonderful chaos. Some of the best insights, I will have learned, are gained from the perimeter. And I will watch as a young child, in his curiosity and excitement, reaches too far across the shopping cart, insists on holding the heaviest glass jar, prematurely opens the treat that was half-deserved, runs his hands along the grimiest and most intriguing parts of the check-out line and rests his tired head on the pant leg of the not so understanding gentleman in front of him.
I will watch as a young mother does her best impersonation of calm, all while biting her lower lip, holding her breath, and wrangling…everything, from the glass jars, to the sticky hands, to the debit card, to the palm-size shoe that found its way to her left hand, to the necessary-for-survival bag of ground coffee, to the neckline of her shirt that…whoops…just fell to the same level of her sinking sanity.
At first, I will talk to that young mother in my mind. They will be words that I recite daily, words granted to me by one of the greatest gift givers, Time.
Then I will do what I cannot keep myself from doing, because the wisdom will be wrapped up as a warning and thus, knows no boundaries. I will seemingly lift the needle off the record, and while the turn table continues to spin, I will be the voice that delivers a message straight to her ears.
In the middle of price-checking, and bag packing, and the deal-of-the-day loudspeaker announcement, I will speak to that mom. I will say, “I remember those days, like they were yesterday.” The mother, the younger version of myself, will look at me, the stranger, with a mix of caution and welcome. Then I will smile as if I had just flashed my badge. I will continue, “Enjoy. Enjoy these days. They go by too fast’” And then that mother will smile as the needle drops back down on the record, and she will say, above the noise that tugs at her smallest sensory nerve, “I know…thanks.”
I will watch her as she walks across the tightrope in the “circus of mom hood” and pushes through…through the sea of shoppers, through the exit doors, through the parking lot, through these years.
But I am not quite yet that woman who feels so compelled to share her wisdom with a complete stranger. Instead, I am the mom wrangling it all. In two years or five years or 20 years, will I wish that I put myself on the perimeter more? Will I wonder if I had just momentarily stepped out of “it,” if I hadn’t been so chest-deep in “it,” would I have had many more “from the outside” insights?
And, I often wonder about those women in the grocery store, those wise women. What else do they know? And when does that turning point come? Because when they look at me, I feel a sense of their loss. I kind of want to ask them, “When does this wonderful chaos and innocence turn into something else?” And I have so many more questions.
Where are you, wise women? I am sitting here with my favorite mug filled with coffee and I’m ready to listen.