Surrounding us were young, fresh faced moms. Shrill squeals and eager baby babble floated through the air like a fresh breeze. Fashionable moms feverishly diced their little one’s food, while Petunia Pickle Bottoms gently bounced on the back of their chairs. Newbie moms with their babies and toddlers enveloped us.
We’d popped in for a quick lunch. It was a day that my youngest had stayed home from school sick. So, we were outsiders to this young mom luncheon club. There was a time, not long ago, that I ran the club. Of course it’s a fictitious club, built on the pillars of younger mom’s novice status. It’s a club that all moms belong to at one time or another though.
I’ve barely graduated from the club. My youngest just began his 16 year educational journey this week. He’s now officially a kindergartener. I’m new at the alumni status thing. I was the mom always afraid my babies and young kids were the loudest, the messiest, the most unruly or the most complicated. With four kids born in five years, my fears were largely not unfounded. I became accustomed to older restaurant patrons whispering requests to their server to be moved away from our clan’s table. On airplanes we’d receive cold glances and stoney smiles. Sorry about those crushed eggs in the dairy section, my missing toddler was apparently quelling his curiosity. At restaurants we’d try to clean our dining area, then leave a little extra ”damage control” tip and quickly dash out the door.
As we sat there, quietly munching on our chicken nuggets, an active young mom club member hurriedly approached me. She reached under my chair, and her eyes met mine. Apologizing about her child’s sippy cup that had been hurled our direction and lay under my chair, she indeed looked embarrassed. As I smiled and admitted I hadn’t even noticed the flying sippy, there was so much that I wanted to tell her.
I was suddenly overcome by emotion. It was emotion that I did not want to acknowledge at noonish on a weekday in a crowded fast food joint with my five year old. Unwelcomed tears seem to kick up at the most inconvenient times.
I wanted to tell that flustered young mom that it is ok. Her kids are ok. She’s ok. It’s really going to be ok. Ok? Seriously, it does get easier than launched spill proof sippies at mealtimes. The no sleeping at night issue? It will improve. I know all about babies on the go — gnawing on chords, and crawling into anything dangerous and off limits possible. One day soon all that baby proofing will be unnecessary. Tantrums? Well, just wait until your daughter is a tween or teen. You’ll think the toddler tantrums were a serious cake walk.
Although I’ve phased out of baby, toddler and preschool land, there are many phases ahead for me. I have yet to sail the tumultuous teenage sea or navigate through uncharted territory as adult kids leave home. The idea of handing over the car keys to our teen driver sends chills down my spine. Dating and puberty are high on my OMG list too. I may have mastered the art of changing a squirmy baby’s diaper in the trunk of a mini-van at Costco, but I’m still trying to unlock the secret to communicating with my tween.
As this small chapter of my life as a mom closes, I know that many chapters have yet to be written. I look forward to what lies ahead. It’s been said many times, and it’s true. The days are long but the years are short. It goes fast. Be present. Join the the club. Hold on tightly. It’s a wild ride.