Nicki Wilson, a mom whose kids are well past the toddler stage, recently realized she was surrounded by solely mothers with little kids while making an early morning Target run. In a Facebook post, she explained why she took a moment to truly take in her environment as opposed to finishing her shopping quickly.
"[I was] walking through Target early this morning — something I never do, and I am overcome with emotions," she wrote. "Almost every customer in the store [was a] young mom. Many had two or more kids. Trying to jump out of the basket, bargaining to open the Halloween candy, petitioning (some with tears) to revisit the toy aisle for more, some tots were just rattling off rapid-fire questions while mom stared off into space and nodded . . . we all know the scene."
While she saw some mothers smiling, others looked a bit frazzled. Nicki could tell that some of the women were at the end of their rope, praying that their little one wouldn't have a tantrum or a diaper explosion. Looking down at her basket, she realized even further how different her stage of parenting life is from these young moms — her cart wasn't full of little kid stuff anymore.
"It was empty. Not from stuff, after all, I was there because the essentials at home (toilet paper, trash bags, paper towels) were literally gone! No, my basket didn't have a toddler hanging over the side squeezing applesauce all over themselves," she said. "My side didn't have a tiny hand to hold, or little body to step on when they fell over for the umpteenth time. My basket didn't have diapers or wipes or organic squeezie pouches. And my empty basket made my heart ache a little . . . OK, a lot."
"I wanted to say what all the elderly ladies used to say when they saw me in Target: 'Enjoy it. It goes fast,' or 'I remember when mine were that age.'"
Nicki wasn't in a rush, so she opted to people watch for a few minutes. "I just pulled back, parked my cart and watched all the sweet mamas. I wanted to say what all the elderly ladies used to say when they saw me in Target: 'Enjoy it. It goes fast,' or 'I remember when mine were that age.' But I resisted. Because those words don't mean anything when you are in the thick of it with little kids. They don't mean anything when your days are intricately timed between snacks and naps. They don't mean anything when you want to talk to an adult, but you can't get a full thought finished, let alone a sentence. They don't mean anything until you are in Target alone randomly one day after dropping off your middle schooler, hoping he remembered his algebraic equations. And you look around at all the young moms and oddly remember how badly you wanted freedom, yet the ache that when you HAVE the freedom you so deeply desire, it is quite frankly, pretty lonely even on the great days."
Now, Nicki is encouraging all the mothers of littles ones out there to savor the small moments. "Mamas of littles, enjoy it all, because it GOES," she said. "You don't realize how much it goes because it is always going. You will look up and see a young man sitting next to you in the passenger seat before you know it. Don't miss it, even though there is nothing you can do to hold it."