This morning I was sat in the grocery store parking lot writing out a list of the things I needed when in the lane across my from me, I noticed a mother.
She was wrestling with getting a bulky car seat out of the car. Once she finally succeeded, she laid it down by her feet on the parking lot pavement and crouched down in front of it.
I watched as she laid a receiving blanket on the baby in that bulky car seat, and as she straightened up the little one’s head. She then went around to the other side of the car, bulky car seat in hand, and opened up the back door. Out came a little girl in a matching two-piece short set and a sparkly buckle in her hair. The little girl (with all of her might) closed the door behind her and grabbed her mother’s hand.
Before taking a step forward, the mother looked down at the little girl, and immediately set the car seat back down at her feet on the pavement. She proceeded to unclip the sparkly buckle holding back her daughter’s bangs.
She held the buckle in her mouth, straightened out the hair, then put the buckle back in place. The mother then picked back up that bulky car seat, took the little girl’s outreached hand, and off across the parking lot they went.
I smiled at the moment I had just witnessed, got out of my own car, and walked across the parking lot by myself.
As I walked toward the grocery cart kiosk inside the store, the mother (who was still simultaneously holding the car seat and the little girl’s hand) looked back at me, smiled, and said, “You can go ahead of me. It takes me a while for me to get them fixed up in the cart. I’m in no rush.”
I smiled back at her and told her to take her time with the cart, as I was only grabbing a basket anyway.
But what I really wanted to say was how proud I was of her for not rushing. I wanted to ask her to please never rush. Not even for one moment. I wanted to tell her to continue doing as she was doing; taking the time to fix little receiving blankets and to adjust sparkly hair buckles. Take it all in. Each and every tiny detail.
I wanted to say, “One day, you’ll catch herself watching a mama in a grocery store parking lot—and you’ll smile as you watch her take the car seat, and you’ll smile again as she takes her toddler’s hand. And you’ll remember back to when you yourself carried a car seat and had little hands to hold. And you’ll watch every single detail of that simple and sacred moment in that mother’s life, remembering with a smile (and perhaps even a tear) when that was your life with your own little children.”
But . . . I didn’t say any of that.
Because I know that mother who is simultaneously holding the car seat and the little girl’s hand is in the very thick of motherhood right now. And I know she’ll eventually come to see it for herself, but right now is not the time to tell her that she will miss this moment—this moment of holding a bulky car seat and a toddler’s hand in the grocery cart kiosk.
So instead, I simply smiled, told her to take her time,
And then grabbed a basket when I really needed a cart.