After downing bowls of spaghetti and big chunks of watermelon tonight, the kids and I walked to the park. Two small girls and a young woman whose tiny body and short-shorts suggested “babysitter” were already playing on the equipment. Much to my horror, the wee blondes started to call the taller one “Mommy,” and I suddenly felt incredibly old. Old and unattractive. Old and frumpy. Old, old, old.
As I watched Linnea pick tiny clover blossoms in the grass, Linus toddled back and forth on brave legs and flashed me his gap-toothed smile. I thought about what a different experience it would have been to have had kids eight or ten years earlier than I did. Would I have been more fun? More energetic? Surely, I would have been more blonde and fashionable—not to mention svelte.
The young mother and her girls walked by us as they left the park, calling out a goodbye. In the time that I’d been daydreaming in the grass, a family of presumably Middle Eastern descent had arrived. I watched the young, heavyset mother as she placed her baby girl in a swing. Our eyes met, and we shared a smile. Maybe she was happy draped head to toe in deep red fabric—and at the very least, she was used to it—but something about the way she carried herself made me sad.
Suddenly, my purple t-shirt seemed okay. I felt wonderfully comfortable in the warm summer solstice air. As I pushed our stroller home, I marveled at life’s consistent supply of moments like this—moments in which the characters seem cast just for me, the timing meant to be. And I knew that I was in the right place at the right time, and that even when it doesn’t feel like it, we usually are.
I Want to Know
- What makes you feel old?
- Do you ever have seemingly serendipitous moments like this?