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.