The older mom

I met her years ago, briefly, in our town’s library—the children’s section of course—while her three children browsed for books, and I ran around trying to keep my toddler son, D, in control as he was trying to litter the floor with board books.

Her kids seemed familiar, but they were not. It’s just that she had two older girls and a younger boy, just like me. We spoke for a few minutes and I discovered that they were spaced similarly to my three: about two years between the girls, and then—whammo—a short 18 months between the middle girl and her son. Though, they were not peers with my brood: Her kids were about three years older than mine, making her son about five that day in the library, and her girls around seven and nine. They seemed so much older.

We didn’t talk long. I remember that we laughed about how crazy my life was right now, and I’m pretty sure she reassured me that it would get less hectic.

I’m sure I’ve met other moms like this over the years, but this one has stuck in my mind for years. Maybe it is because her kids kind of looked like mine—-especially her little blond son. Maybe it’s because I hoped I’d look like her in a few years—slim, blond, dressed in non-rumpled clothes that didn’t have food stuck on them. Maybe it’s just how memory works—for no reason at all, I could still pick her out of a crowd in about 10 seconds.

I see her in town every year or so. At first, I’d say hello as we passed, but when I realized she has no idea who I am,  I stopped. But, I can’t help myself: as soon as I see her, I quickly scan the area and try to spot her kids which isn’t easy since I don’t really know what they look like. But, recently, I saw her son standing by her side—still blond, handsome, and almost as tall as her shoulder. Too old to be holding her hand, but not too old to keep his distance from his mother. This made me extraordinarily happy.

I think what is happening is that I feel like I am looking into a mirror—–one that shoots me forward three years—-whenever I see her. Truthfully, it’s not her I’m looking at though. In fact, she may be younger than I am—I have no idea. But, looking at her kids who I see so infrequently, reminds me of how quickly my own will be that age, that size.

I’m sure that someday  in the next few years, I will see her walk into the supermarket with a young man who towers over her and still calls her “mom”, in a deeper voice that wasn’t there before. I hope she doesn’t see me tear up as I walk past.


  1. This is a really wonderful post.

    I wonder which random stranger you stand out in in the life of.

  2. You’ll probably hug her and freak her out.

    Sniff. I read about friends who are so excited that their college-age kids are coming home for the holidays and it stops my heart. And makes me realize we were mean to mom. We’d come home exhausted, hungover and sick and just wanting to sleep. :>)
    Mrs. Q. recently posted..MagicMy Profile

  3. Oh this one made me tear up. I’ve been watching my neighbors’ and friends’ kids turning into adults and thinking a lot about how quickly they’ve all changed. It doesn’t feel that way when they are little but the time really does go by so fast.

  4. This made me teary. It is scary to think how fast time goes. I want to freeze time. I love the way you write.

  5. I am always having these thoughts. Whenever I look at their hands (getting less pudgy) or put the too small clothes away in bins. It goes so fast and I don’t like it. Life whirls on by.
    Stowed Stuff recently posted..Hess Helicopter 2012My Profile

  6. I love this. Beautifully written.

    I remember thinking some friend’s kids were so old when we moved out here – and now my kids are her kids’ ages – and they don’t seem old or grown-up at all.
    maryanne @ mama smiles recently posted..Silk Screening for KidsMy Profile

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