Friday, February 15, 2008

Sooner Than I Think

I ran out to the convenience store last night to pick up some sour cream, and when I pulled up I saw a car idling, a woman at the wheel. Her son was in the store, buying a litre of milk, and I was struck by the sheer improbability of it, the idea that these helpless babes of mine will develop, in a few short years, into creatures I could send out for a stick of butter with some hope that they'd return home safely, butter in hand. There will come a time, I realized, when I can take my children to the mall and even stop for a chocolate-caramel latte without turning around to see them walking hand-in-hand into the glass elevator, the doors shutting behind them. And I won't have to abandon my latte and sprint over just in time to make eye contact with the Pie as the elevator goes up, and then stand there helplessly while her mouth opens in a silent scream of despair. And I won't punch the button repeatedly only to get up to the second floor and find an empty hall and eerie silence, finally locating my children at the other end of the mall, riding down the escalator with my sister (who was smart enough to take the stairs instead of waiting ineffectually for the elevator). And I won't spring down the escalator to shouts of "It's Mama!" and "You're not invisible anymore!" or step off at the bottom to be enveloped by hugs and earnest explanations of, "We went in the alligator and it was really SCARY."

A few short years from now, it won't be like that at all.

Oh.

53 comments:

Omaha Mama said...

I know exactly what you mean. It seems like even as I fear losing my "babies", it all just gets better and better. Less scary. As I hear my sister talk of her family all going to the movie (with her kids, who are older than ours), it's hard not to wish away time a little. And also to not fear the future.

Amy said...

You are so right. I have one grown (about to turn 19) and two little ones, 5 and 1. In a way it's hard to know how fast it will go. But it makes me value it too.

Jenifer said...

Your heart must have stopped as they got on the elevator. You are right of course. We have just recently started to realize that at ages 4 & 7 we can do so many more things with the girls, well different things I guess. I am still packing bags with changes of clothes and backup supplies and such and they usually come back home untouched.

It is like I am still operating in that other mode and haven't realized we have turned the corner a bit.

Julie Pippert said...

I wish I wish I wish I had something loving and sweet to say, wish I had sentimental attachment and pleasure in right now.

Today?

All I can say is THANK GOD.

Because I know those moments about which you write and others too.

I have decided it's okay to lose my mind today. I decided that and felt a huge surge of relief.

Karen said...

oh, I'm so sorry. That would take it out of me for at least a week - but it is true. Occasionally I send Thinker all the way up the driveway for the mail, to wait at his bus stop, to retrieve the recycle bin - I watch from the window, but he'd be just as competent if I didn't.

Chantal said...

OH My, I can totally feel that. Just reading that account had my heart racing. Poor you. The things we go through with/for our kids. I often look at older kids, walking to school, driving cars, even just the 9 year olds left to their own devices while their younger brother plays hockey. I can't even imagine being at that stage, although I will be. WOW.

Shannon said...

Oh my goodness! While I'm sure that you must have been really upset, it was very amusing to read. :) Hopefully you will be able to see the humour once you recover from your heart attack.

Magpie said...

Oh! The alligator! Oh!

Glad everything's okay.

Maddy said...

A prime example of parental brain freeze - you and me both dearie!

painted maypole said...

hard to imagine. i find myself, now, shocked at some of the things I let MQ do that I wouldn't have 2 years ago.

the end of motherhood said...

Before you know it, you'll be at the stage where they say, "I WISH you were invisible." Oh, enjoy, enjoy, enjoy it while it lasts.

Cyndi said...

No, in a few short years when they dissapear, it will be on purpose.

bren j. said...

I think I'd be scared to go in an alligator too. :)

Mad Hatter said...

Are the ROFLs still going b/c, lordy, this is the hardest I have have laughed in weeks? You really play with expectations here. I was expecting one of those anticipatory nostalgia posts but then that started to go off the rails. I had a very scary local story in the back of my mind about a teen gone missing and I was set to cry and commiserate about mother fear but you subverted that impulse in me as well. Seriously, humour works best when it is almost tragedy and you walked this line brilliantly here right down to the last word (and using the word "alligator" was joy!).

And a big shout out to Aunt Caffern for being so level-headed.

Greg S. said...

Disaster averted!

WHEW!

(I'm sure your heart was pumping *much* harder than mine, but you had me actually worried there for a second.)

chickadee said...

that's hilarious, but so scary. my 10 year old is just old enough to send into our little country store for milk while i wait in the car.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I left a 3-year-old on an elevator once. By the time we got him back, he looked so traumatized that we all burst out laughing. Poor kid. I'm laughing now, thinking about it.

It is amazing, how fast it goes. Life is a rushing river, as Actual Unretouched Photo wrote so eloquently this week.

Beck said...

It happens FAST FAST FAST. My 8 year old can already make little shopping expeditions on her own!

cinnamon gurl said...

Soon, sure, but for now that is SCARY!

And I'm with Mad... a brilliantly crafted post.

Janet said...

It's already here, for us, to a limited extend. And, yes, it is a strange place to be.

Swistle said...

My third grader is JUST getting to the point where I can let him take the escalator while I take the stroller in the elevator. But I still worry, like when I got off the elevator and couldn't find him (he was on the other side).

nomotherearth said...

Alligator?? - oh my heart. How beautiful is she? I am dreading the day when they grow and stop using replacement words like that. But oh how your heart must have been in your stomach when the doors closed.

Anonymous said...

A big deal with our kids was being able to go into the video store to return a video, with the parent in the car parked by the door, watching every move.

"How old were you when you got to return a video?" "Well, kids, in my day, there were no videos, we told stories by the roaring fire..."

KAL said...

Oh, my!

Occidental Girl said...

Oh my gosh! To lose sight of one's child is the scariest thing in the world. Ever. It's happened to me, needless to say.

Thank goodness all was well for you, too.

And yes, I've been thinking of the unfathomable future when my daughter will be able to go and buy milk alone, or whatever. Hard to imagine, and sooner than we'll be ready.

Kathryn said...

I have been struggling with this too. Of course it is a blessing to have your children grow into independent, healthy, young adults, but it is also simultaniously heart-breaking.
Scary elevator story! Ack!

hydeslikeus said...

gulp.

Hydes

Luisa Perkins said...

This is me having a vicarious heart attack for you.

And yes, ma'am: it is pretty blissful when you can send your 14-year-old off to the market for a pound of butter, knowing that he'll return safe, sound, and with correct change.

kgirl said...

OMG - I can feel your panic. They owe you a whole damn shopping trip, not just the stick of butter.

(a loaf of bread... a container of milk... and a stick of butta - remember that?)

Kyla said...

Oh my! What an experience. That bad alligator swallowing them up like that. ;)

bubandpie said...

Kgirl - You rock. That's exactly what I was thinking of.

Nora Bee said...

This is really, really lovely.

Rose Daughter said...

you know, I hadn't gotten that far in my thinking. Wow, can you imagine, not constantly running after my kids. Maybe dreams will come true.

planetnomad said...

LOL! I had that happen once with Elliot, who at age 3 took an elevator all alone at a huge hotel (20 or 30 stories) which happened to be filled with policemen! (I love appearing a bad mother in front of hundreds of policemen--don't you?)
But yes, tonight Donn and I are going out and leaving the children home alone. No more child care needed. Very strange, but this is one aspect of them growing up that I really do like!

Lisa b said...

Holy Crap.
I think I would have died.
I almost had a heart attack reading this.

Catherine said...

WOW.

Amanda said...

Ow, just ow.

Angela said...

The time will come so quickly that you must let go.
Time just flys too fas

Jolyn said...

Oh my gosh. Did that just happen?

The first time I left my 11-year-old, with his little brother (who was SLEEPING) so I could run and get his sister without dragging everyone out...it was novel. And the other night? Now he is 12. And not yet ready for keeping two preschoolers under control, BUT hubby and I can go get coffee five minutes away after the wee ones are in bed. And the poor kid hasn't figured out yet that other kids get paid for this.

Carrien said...

NO it won't always be that way. ANd the way I"m feeling tonight you almost had me sobbing for those days again.

Sigh, the Boy has his first loose tooth, it feels so...final and I feel so sentimental right now.

Imagine me as the old lady winking at you as you are reunited and saying, "Enjoy them while their young dearie, it will be over too soon."

I swear that I didn't understand a thing that the older and wiser mothers said to me until it was too late. Crap.

I'm so glad there was a reunion.

the dragonfly said...

I can't think of that right now. I just can't. My Little Mister is only eight months old....

*sigh*

minnesotamom said...

I wrote a post similar to it late last night...thinking about the same thing...my baby girl growing up. I'm not liking those thoughts right now.

Angela said...

Yes, I'm on this other side now...and it happens so quickly. But every stage brings its own sweetness with it too. Things aren't lost--they only evolve...

PeanutButtersMum said...

Eek. How scary! Glad it all turned out ok.

Dare we dream of those days? The sad thing is, when we've reached that time, we'll be looking back on this time and wanting our babies back...

Mardougrrl said...

Yikes! The little buggers, er...DARLINGS can really terrify us, can't they? I am glad they are fine.

I go back and forth on this one. I miss those adorable infant days and am alternately loving/impatient with these toddler days. I think it will always be bittersweet--watching her grow up (and grow away from me).

Bon said...

late to this, but oh, my blood pressure. oy. oy.

and yeh, the container of milk and the stick of butter schtick...except i always blow it and say "a loaf of milk." i do not know why.

this was fabulous writing, B&P.

letter9 said...

Not that things like that happen to you now, of course. Your children are impeccable specimens. I know. You just don't want all the other blogger mommmies to be jealous so you make up these hypotheticals. : )

JCK said...

Oh, GOD! I'd need lots of Jack Daniels after an experience like that...very scary.

It is hard to imagine these independent children, isn't it?

Jozet at Halushki said...

omg...

That almost totally happened to me except it was my 7 year old daughter running onto a New York City subway ahead of me.

Luckily, I was able to jam myself in the door in time.

But yeah...someday she'll be off to NYC on her own. And I fret the entire time, anyway.

Jenna Consolo said...

Ah, yes. Soon enough.

Kelly said...

Oh my. That had to have been a toughie. I wouldn't have been smart enough to use the stairs either. I would have jumped over the rail...and, well, that wouldn't have ended up so nicely.

Heather said...

Oh my! :(

Peanut calls it an alligator too. It's such a big big world. It's is really hard to imagine them walking around out there without me.

tAnYeTTa said...

Yes, Yes, Yes!

I have a 20 and a 3 year old.

I had NO idea I could start the fun all over again.

Great blog by the way. I found it by way of Wondertime. There's an article in there about you!