b ~ And I have known the arms already, known them all— Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

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To the woman I saw on Sunday who was at her wit’s end,

I’m sure you don’t remember me, we didn’t exchange a word or
pleasantries, in fact I never got out of the car. I only saw you from
a distance, but I find you are impossible to forget.

M and I were on our way to lunch and we stopped at the rest area. I
waited for him in the car and after a bit, you walked out, a boy on
each arm pulling and tugging as if they were engaged in a game of tug
o’ war. You bobbed back and forth between them. Your baby’s
head–peeking out of the sling you wore–bounced around like a ping
pong ball. I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I was embarrassed and ashamed
as I saw you silently open your mouth and scream. It reminded me of
the cartoon of George Jetson yelling at Jane to get him “off this
crazy thing.”

I guess in some ways parenthood is like a ride; a roller coaster, I’d
say. And with three kids under 5 it’s like you got on one of the
thrilling rides that not everyone is tall enough or brave enough to go
through with. Slowly crawling up those insanely tall hills and then
bracing yourself with your arms stretched out in front of you as it
instantly drops the floor out from beneath your feet as you
practically free fall before starting the next assent. They both leave
you breathless.

I want you to know, it gets better.

And maybe for you having three young children is great and fulfilling
and just what you thought it would be. But there are moments, for all
of us, when you wonder just what you signed up for. Moments like the
rest stop where you lost your temper. Or maybe a split second when you
looked away and someone fell off the bed, or hurt themselves with a
kitchen knife. These things happen, we deal with them, we learn from
them and we move on.

Because, and I know you know this too, time keeps moving. Someday your
boys will be grown. They will no longer tug on you. And to that you
may say thank goodness. One day they will reach past you for the next
slice of pizza, for the shower nozzle, or to grasp the car steering
wheel on the way to get their driver’s license. Suddenly you are no
longer needed for every tiny bit of their care. Of course they will
still need you, they will always need you. But it’s not the same.  One
day you wake up and they are tying bow ties themselves and filling out
the Times crossword puzzle in ink. You’ll notice their wrists covered
in bracelets and accept it as who they are, part of their style. They
are strong, singular individuals. You’ll look down at the chunky rings
and bangly bracelets of your own– that you started to wear after you
knew they wouldn’t pull on them or take them off and hide them in
their treasure chests– and marvel at how fast the time has gone.
Faster than a roller coaster, faster than the speed of sound, so fast
you cannot begin to fathom.

There will come a day when your children will wake up in the morning
and with their two strong hands they will make their lunch and head
off to school. You will miss them with an ache that accompanies you
through a particularly hard day. In the evening those same two hands
will try to console you, patting your own hands, which have somehow
shrunk in comparison. Those two strong arms will embrace you in a hug,
reassuring you that tomorrow will be better. But right now you are
years and years from that reversal, and I mean that in the best way
possible.  It may seem like forever until they are grown, but enjoy
these moments, the good and the bad. They are a testament to your life
together. Those moments when you are crabby or not your best self are
forgettable. They make the truly special moments sparkle and shine,
though you need not dwell on them. Yet if you were to ask me if I
could trade places with you right now, I would. I want you to know
that too.

I think that I will remember our shared moment, for awhile at least. I
will think of you and your family and wonder how they’ve grown and if
life has gotten easier. Because it does. Trust me

About andi

Writer, editor, wrangler of small boys and dogs.

One comment

  1. penny mcconnel

    Sweet Beth. I loved that you noticed her, thought about her and then used that as a vehicle for your thoughts.

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