On more than one occasion in my career as a mom, I have gone to the store with my children. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as pretty much every mother on the planet that has access to stores eventually enters one with her kids.
Stores seem innocent enough. You walk in with the intention of buying something and, most of the time, walk out with what you intended to buy. Maybe a few more things if you go to Target or Costco (we really needed that cute pillow… and that tent).
BUT. If you are a mom who has gone into a store or ever plans to go into a store, the time WILL COME that one, both or ALL of your children will melt down, start fighting or make you wonder why on earth you ever thought entering a store with them was a good idea.
There will, in fact, be a time when you have a full cart and you have to decide if it is actually worth it to wait in line and deal with children who are weeping, gnashing their teeth and screaming like banshees OR if you should just ditch the cart, run to the car with kids under each arm and handle the situation like you need to, but don’t want to in public. That might include discipline or a snack, depending on the cause of the meltdown and whatever food is available in your purse.
As you might suspect, this has happened to me. I have six kids. If you do the math, that means I have experience in this whole “going to the store with kids” thing at least a few times. Friends, the stories I could tell you would make you bow and shake your heads in maternal empathy… (I’m actually shaking my head right now remembering some of the ‘best’ ones).
You know what’s crazy though? Almost every time one of those experiences takes place, a sweet older lady will come by (usually just as I’ve broken into a sweat and put on my game face) and say,
“Cherish these days. They go by too fast!”
Now, for years, especially when my older 3 kids were little, I thought, and sometimes even said, “I SURE HOPE SO! Do you even SEE what’s going on here?!!!” because my gosh, my kids were exhausting! Between their activity levels, the actual activities, the willful spirits and sheer number of kids, I WAS TIRED AND WANTED IT TO BE OVER!!
So I hoped the days would go by fast.
And you know what?
And now I have a 15-year-old who is learning to drive. He spends most of his time with his friends or on his phone or digging through the fridge.
He still hugs me at night and lets me kiss his head, but he doesn’t snuggle with me on the couch to read a story anymore.
My determined, hard-working 13-year-old recognizes when others need help and steps up when his mama needs a hand. He cleans his room and does his laundry…
… but he doesn’t ask me to play trains with him anymore.
I have an 11-year-old who is on the cusp of becoming a teenager and wants so badly to grow up and do teenage things…
… and yet today when I left she cried and said, “Mommy, I’ll miss you.”
My girl still calls me “Mommy”.
And I’m clinging to that.
You see, the sweet older ladies who told me to cherish the days? They were absolutely right.
The days are indeed LONG, but the years are so short. They go by in a blink.
I think that is the biggest surprise of motherhood: no matter how many kids you have or how long it takes to raise them, the time always goes by too fast.
Now, more often than not, I try to stop and listen when the little hands grab at me for attention rather than wave them off so I can finish what I am doing. I don’t want to miss out on the joy or humor to be found in our day-to-day, even in the crazy moments.
So, Grandma? Thank you for taking the time to stop and remind me that I should cherish the days with my kids. You were right. They go by too fast.
Summer Wilson of the Transparency Project is an exclusive member of Becky Thompson’s Writer Network. For more information on how to join, go to www.BeckyThompsonCourse.com