In the past six months, the moms have grown younger.
Walking into my local library for the first time in six months since COVID-19, I found myself curiously watching a female with three young children whizzing around her side. The youngest, a tiny, tow-headed toddler boy, giggled up at the large grandfather clock. “Tick-tock. Tick-tock.” Curly locks combed neatly into place, he grinned up at me, his eyes inviting me into his excitement.
Yes, the little one was certainly darling, but honestly, it was the female with them who intrigued me.
She was cute in her trendy dress, something only someone young could pull off so casually. Her long, blond hair flowed around her. I covertly watched her youthful face for clues as to her age. Is she an older sister? A babysitter?
Or could she be . . . the mom? No way!
It dawned on me watching her interact with the children that no babysitter would show that much interest in all of the children. She spoke slowly and patiently, encouraging their excitement to bubble forth in delight. Yes, as much as I couldn’t believe it, this was the mom.
I chalked up her appearance to the fact that this mom had won the youth gene lottery.
She’s young. Tiny. Beautiful hair. She dresses so stylishly. That’s OK. There are always a few lucky ones in life.
Clutching my library books, I walked to check out. Another mom strolled toward me, accompanied by a grade school girl in a plaid-skirt uniform. Watching their whispers, it struck me, yet again, how young THIS mom looked.
What is happening to the moms since COVID-19? Why do they all look about 17 years old now? I know I haven’t been around many people, but goodness, why have the mom’s aged backward? And all of a sudden, at that moment standing in the library, my pile of books ready to topple, it hit me.
I am the OLD MOM.
I’m now the mom who I used to think was old in my younger years. The mom who can’t compete with these young women. The mom who never looked THAT good at their age. The mom with laugh lines donning her eyes. The mom who wished she could desperately go back and start all over again.
Here I am—my fourth and final child now in the ninth grade. High school. I look up to him instead of him looking up to me. I have one married and out of the house, one new postgrad happy to have found a job during COVID season, and a sophomore in college.
What is there still for me?
I can look back at more memories of motherhood in my past than I can see in the last four years before I officially become an empty nester. Empty nester. Suddenly, I hate that word. Do I still matter among the dewy, young moms busy wiping snotty noses, acting out picture books, and walking fresh-faced first graders into their new school year?
Do I have worth if I’m not that cute, perky mom anymore?
My mind travels to an old memory that seems so recent. When I was a brand-new mom, a lactation consultant came to help me, bringing over her own 3-month-old nursling. Over the course of that year, we forged a friendship, she only living a few blocks from me.
I remember my amazement that a 23-year-old woman could have a 40-year-old fellow mother friend. I loved that she was older, wiser, and could share life with me. Her presence was a source of comfort in my weariness, a place to ask my questions, and an encouragement I wasn’t messing it up.
She encouraged me to give myself a break.
Somehow over the course of a million moments, the age has snuck up on that 23-year-old young mom, and now I am that mom, who is just on the edge of 50. Where did the time go? The younger women have now taken my place.
It appears that now it’s my turn to be on a new side of the equation—a chance for me to be that kind of friend to younger moms.
Can I connect with these young moms without insecurity—you look better, your skin is smoother, you can dress nicer, you get a chance to do it all without mistakes—but rather, in support and in love?
Friendship shouldn’t know any age barrier. It didn’t then and it shouldn’t now.
So, I ask myself . . .
Can I reach out to be the kind of beautiful friend that was offered to me as a young mom?
It’s my turn.
The torch has been passed.
Will I take it?