The other day I finally got myself (and my two at-home-during-the-day kids) to the mall for some post-Christmas returns and exchanges. It wasn't fun. The girls were doing all kinds of acrobatics on the stroller and poor Claire had hurt her knee on the trampoline the day before and kept whining that she couldn't walk. So as I carried her through the mall in one arm while trying to contort my other arm enough to successfully maneuver my stroller laden with bags and a chunky baby, I noticed a mother with a new little baby...maybe a month old. He was fussy and she was trying to comfort him while maneuvering her stroller too. Oh I wanted to just ask her if I could hold him and snuggle him for a little bit. I wished I had my old Baby Bjorn to hand over to her. I could never go to the mall without it when I had babies that little. And then the thought of having my tiny snuggling babies right next to me while I did my daily tasks started eating at me. How they looked when they were sleeping, how they smelled, how they sighed in their sleep, and yes, even their sweet little newborn cries. Baby hunger crept in. "How could those days have passed so quickly??!" I asked myself in awe as I looked at my own crying "baby" and her whimpering sister side-kick.
And then a thought struck me. A few years from now I'll be roaming the mall and all my kids will be in school. I know, I know, it will be nice. It'll seem so free and strange in a good way. But, at that moment in the mall this week I realized that on that day in the future when I'm wandering the mall all fancy-free, there's no doubt I'll run into my double self from this week. She'll be wrestling with her toddlers with a frustrated look on her face, assuring them that they're almost done with the errands of the day. And oh will I ever wish I could go back, at least for a little while, and slow life down while I snuggle those kids up and kiss their chubby cheeks off. I'll try to envision them as their little selves climbing on me and whining and needy, and I'll probably tear up a little just like I am right now because I'll miss those little people. I know the bigger form of my little people will we wonderful. I can't wait to "meet" them and grow with them. But I just realized this week, once again, how much I need to cherish this time, right now, right here...snotty noses, whiny faces, dramatics and all that craziness in one great big package in a bow. Because when I blink they'll be all grown up.
baby Max vs. grown-up Max...Where did all that time go?Our first Christmas card. I just blinked and here we are with five kids.