Sometimes, changes are obvious. Other times, when you’re in the middle of a change, you don’t see it until it’s happened, and you wish you could have gone back and taken it all in, taken a deep breath and memorized what is around you, because it will never be the way it was, in that moment, again.
It didn’t feel strange, knocking on her door, and her opening it, a baby on her hip and her older daughter, sleeping lightly upstairs. We took our shoes off, like we always do, except this time, I noticed a bowl in the front room, designated for real estate agents to leave their cards. The house is always clean, but now it’s immaculate, with everything put perfectly in its place, so that if someone were to drop by to see it, its at its most beautiful.
We played, for a few minutes, like we have for the last three years. Some days we played because it was raining and we couldn’t go outside. Some days we played because it was too hot. Some days we played because one of us was cooking dinner and we couldn’t leave the oven.
Today we played because it was the last time.
After a few minutes, we went outside, and happened to meet up with friends who I’ve spent lots of time with over the last few years. It felt natural. That playground still feels like home to me, even though it’s been months since I’ve left.
I will see most of these women again; I’ve only moved a few hours away. So we visit, we talk, and we watch TV together on Google hangout. Seriously. We do that.
But the other day, when we were at the playground, and when we took a little trip down the street to see the fire truck, I took a step back. I watched. It was all so vivid. I watched as one little boy told a joke and laughed at the punch line. When I first met him, three years ago, he was still crawling. I saw two little boys, brothers, hanging together, looking for sticks and leaves. One of those boys was only six weeks old when I first met him. Now, they’re independent adventurers. I saw my kids; my son who just turned four, who has made new friends and learned new games over the last few months. Who sort of doesn’t fit in with these kids as much now, because he’s immersed in a new group of kids, with new games that he’s trying to now teach his old friends…his first friends. And I saw my daughter, who was happily climbing and sliding down the slide. I ran over to make sure she doesn’t fall. I remember doing that same thing with my son, three years ago. Now it’s her turn.
Someone said, in passing, that this group of kids would probably not be together again. In small groups, yes, but not this particular group of kids. Nope. Probably not.
It is a little sad. But change is inevitable, and I’ve found, usually it makes things better. Stronger.
And sometimes we don’t see it as its happening. Sometimes, change is slow, easing its way into your life, and one day you wake up and you have no idea when your life changed so much. And sometimes, change slaps you in the face. An argument, a move, a love interest; and something inside you begs you to stop, to look around, to breathe in the day, because this day, this moment, will not happen again. And if it does, if serendipity happens to bring these circumstances back together, like it did this past weekend, there will be a different air surrounding us. We will have changed. The kids get older. They are not who they once were. And we, as mothers, grow out of new motherhood. Our insecurities disappear. We are the mother of Boys. We are the mother of Girls. We are the mother of Boys and Girls.
Our kids teach us, they change us, they help define who we become. These kids, they were each others first friends. They learned to walk together, they celebrated holidays with elaborate crafts and beautifully decorated snacks, and they all became big brothers and big sisters around the same time. But for some of us, our families are moving us away. And the kids will make new friends; they’ll create new memories with new kids, and will share the next set of transitions with them.
But here’s the thing. While we were all baking cookies, sharing nightmare sleep training stories and planning pool dates, we, the moms, became friends. And now, we get to continue on with that friendship. The kids may move on, but we will always remember what we meant to each other during such a precious time in our lives. And now, what we enjoy about each other becomes the priority.
What a cool change that is.