My sister, her husband, and their three kids recently moved to the DFW area. The ages of their children are six, four, and two. And so, whenever we are with them, I am instantly thrown back to my time in the trenches, which, by the way, doesn’t seem that long ago. But given the fact that my oldest is twenty-one and my youngest is a whopping eight years old, I have slowly become that old, wistful mama who grins a wrinkly, understanding smile at the shenanigans of the little ones who toddle through my life from time to time.
Mary’s youngest child, Anthony, is the spitting image of what my second-oldest looked like at that age. The fact that he is also utterly enamored with Buzz Lightyear completes the nostalgia perfectly, and I am swept back in time.
I can see so vividly a tiny, curly-haired mop of blonde zooming his toy around, repeating the catch-phrase in his two-year-old lisp. The time at Sunday Mass when his dad lifted him into his arms, and on the way up, my little guy did a perfect Buzz Lightyear imitation which sent us into a fit of giggles. I remember his fascination with birds in first grade, and how our school area was littered with his own flying creations, and how he’d play for hours with them.
Memories like these often leave us older mamas in a puddle of tears—not because we’re not proud of who our gargantuan kids are now (I do mean gargantuan. The child in question is a whopping 6’ 4”!)—but because it’s reminiscent of a much simpler, sweeter time. Our children were utterly dependent on us, our word was law (ha!—for the most part), and our love completely unquestioned. The fact that my second oldest will be twenty on Friday, and that these memories happened only eighteen years ago, astounds me. It goes by so quickly. “But that’s a lifetime!” wail the younger mamas. And to them, I say:
Don’t rush. The days are long. So, so long. But the years go by like a flash of lightning. One day that two-year-old mop of blonde will zoom out of your garage on his own motorcycle, headed to work. He will bring home a beautiful college girlfriend and make dinner. There will be many bumps along the way. Oh, so very many of those. You might even have to deal with issues you never dreamed of with your sweet two-year-old mop of blonde. Establish your mantra of unwavering love and dedication. Listen. Listen to that story for the 20 billionth time until you think your ears actually may just fall off and crumble to dust. And when you are tired? Lean into your friends. Ask a crinkly-faced, older mama like me to come help. We love to snuggle little ones. We remember how hard it was. And we also know and understand completely how precious this time is.
You rock, sweet younger moms. You are doing an awesome work. Warrior mamas in an increasingly hostile world, you give us older mamas so much hope!