Walking thru Target early this morning—something I never do—I was overcome with emotion.
Almost all of the customers in the store were young moms. Many had two or more kids trying to jump out of the basket, bargaining to open candy, petitioning (some with tears) to revisit the toy aisle for more. Some tots were just rattling off rapid-fire questions while Mom stared off into space and nodded . . . we all know the scene.
The moms were smiling some. Most looked frazzled and panicked that something was about to blow—maybe literally—or the bandwidth for shopping with toddlers was a fraying rope before tantrums set in. We all know the emotions required for gearing up for a Target run.
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And I looked at my basket.
It was empty.
Not of stuff—after all, I was there because the essentials at home (toilet paper, trash bags, paper towels) were literally gone. No, my cart didn’t have a toddler hanging over the side squeezing applesauce all over herself. My side didn’t have a tiny hand to hold, or little body to step on when he fell over for the umpteenth time. My basket didn’t have diapers or wipes or organic squeezie pouches.
And my empty basket made my heart ache a little . . . OK, a lot.
So, I allowed myself to be a momentary creeper. I just pulled back, parked my cart and watched all the sweet mamas.
I wanted to say what all the elderly ladies used to say when they saw me in Target at 8 a.m.—“Enjoy it. It goes fast,” or, “I remember when mine were that age.” But I resisted. Because those words don’t mean anything when you are in the thick of it with little kids. They don’t mean anything when your days are intricately timed between snacks and naps. They don’t mean anything when you want to talk to an adult, but you can’t get a full thought finished, let alone a sentence.
They don’t mean anything until you are in Target alone randomly one day after dropping off your middle schooler, hoping he remembered his algebraic equations. And you look around at all the young moms and oddly remember how badly you wanted freedom, yet the ache that when you HAVE the freedom you so deeply desire . . . it is, quite frankly, pretty lonely even on the great days.
So, mamas of littles, enjoy it all because it GOES. And you don’t realize how much it goes because it is always going.
You will look up and see a young man sitting next to you in the passenger seat before you know it. Don’t miss it—even though there is nothing you can do to hold it.
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And if you saw this crazy mug creepin’ on you in Target this morning, thank you for giving me a rich perspective.
This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page.