After a whole summer of trying (often very unsuccessfully) to make shopping with 5 kids a somewhat pleasant "field trip," it got pretty old. Yesterday, I dropped off all 5 kids at school and preschool and headed to the grocery store and Costco all by myself. It was heavenly. There were no kids to almost get lost or almost tip over the cart due to their unquenchable desire to stand on the side. There was no begging and pleading, no crying or whining. There were no squabbles between kids to referee and no distractions to keep my brain in a fuzz. I enjoyed doing some price comparisons on various foods, planned side dishes in my head while selecting the nicest seasonal veggies, and contemplated the pros and cons of different types of shampoo. I got everything on my list and even had the presence of mind to remember a few things that didn't make it on the list. I felt for the moms I saw towing their rowdy little kids through the store and smiled sympathetically at the mom with the yowling baby.
Then as I waited to pick up photos at Costco, a mom behind me in line was biding her time by playing with her two little boys (a baby about 9 months old and a little guy who looked about 2) who were seated side by side in the shopping cart (how I've loved those Costco carts where you can buckle in two kids!). Again and again, she'd say to the baby "I bet you can't give me a kiss!" and lean her face close to the baby and he'd grab her face and give her a big slobbery kiss and the toddler would laugh his head off when she'd say "Oh, you got me again!" It made me miss my babies. And it made me feel so very grateful I get to be a mom.
As I continued my shopping, it hit me that someday I won't just be seeing a mom with a baby and feeling a little nostalgia that my kids have grown past the baby stage now. Someday, I'll be a mom of grown up kids who are off on their own, living their own lives - and when I see these moms with little kids, I'll think back nostalgically on this whole phase of my life. Aloneness in the grocery store will become a norm at that point. Fielding 5 comments and requests at once will be a thing of the past. And I'll look at those moms towing their kids along in a whole different way - I'll think about how lucky they are to have those cute little kids and I'll miss my own. I'll probably get the urge to stop those hassled moms and tell them to love this small window in their lives when they are so needed and so wanted by such lovely little people. I'll want to tell them that time goes by quickly and that the melt downs and crying really only lasts a few minutes at a time (even though it can seem like an eternity when you're in the middle of it). I bet I'll want to tell them that they'll even miss the hard stuff because without that, you don't appreciate the good as much.
So I'd better listen to my future self and cherish this phase of my life a lot more. As I was shopping and people watching and thinking of this stuff, a song came to mind that my sister-in-law Kristi shared with us this summer - "You're Gonna Miss This" by Trace Adkins. I'm generally not very interested in country music - but Kristi said "I challenge you not to cry when you listen to the words of this song" - and I have to say I didn't quite meet the challenge. Someday we're all going to miss a lot of things that seem pretty commonplace and even rather bad right now. If you feel like it, listen to the Trace Adkin's song and these other two songs I like below - and think about your own life and what you're going to miss someday. Then try to enjoy the present just a little more!