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October 18, 2009

Past meets Future on the Checkout Line

Past-meets-future Today, as I was checking out in the grocery line, I met a women who I recognized as my past. That might sound a bit delusional – ok, more than a bit – but I am a true believer that sometimes we are put in the path of another person to gain perspective on our own lives. Today I think it was for the benefit of both of us.

She was very pregnant. I mean like about to burst, 5 days to go, kind of pregnant. And of course she was food shopping. One has to nest at that point, right? I asked her when she was due, if it was her first and all the other questions you would ask a woman at that stage. She and I got to talking and I found out that, like me, this was her second, she was having a boy after a girl and trying for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section).

"Um, hon, I don't know how to tell you this, but I am pretty sure I am your future", I told her.

She laughed and asked me how her life would be turning out.

"Well, 17 years from right about now I would imagine if you have any brain cells left after that 20-year gallop down the path of parenting, you might think of me and wonder why I am so cheerful", I said. She laughed nervously and asked why. I told her that having survived the terrible 2's, toddler years, and pre-school all wrapped up together in one bundle was no training for what pre-empty nest has to offer. Driving teens, kids going off to college – often never to truly return – and the prospect of the next chapter breathing down one's neck was a little daunting. Not to mention the bleeding of cash for a good 7 years.

"So tell me, why ARE you so cheerful?", she asked.

For one, I suppose I am missing the part of my brain that truly panics about these things. Although I don't usually transition all that well, this one is sort of exciting. I look at my kids, who are far from children, and stand in awe of what terrific young adults they have become. Not in the, oh I am the best mother on earth and take all the credit for how great they are sort of way. More like, wow, how the hell did they turn out OK being raised by a lunatic like me? 

Seriously, there was something so poignant about that moment. For both of us. I could tell by the way we connected, right there over the produce and packaged goods, that we each 'felt' each other. Me? I had a little bittersweet tug at my heartstrings for what used to be. She? I think she probably hoped she would make it out alive and as happy with her kids as I appeared to be.

To that woman, whose name I never did get, may you know the level of joy that I have known in raising my family. And may you also feel, mixed with the sadness of ending this phase, an excitement for all that the future brings. 

Original 50-something Moms Blog post. Amy Zimmerman also blogs at i could cry but i don't have time and leaving the zip code