She sees you standing there, a baby on your hip, another wrapped tightly around your thigh, the three of you existing in a state of temporarily permanent dishevelment.
Motherhood, it is not glamourous.
You have no idea what you're wearing.
You dressed in the half light of morning, trying to quietly shush the "Breakfast!" chanting toddler without waking the finally sleeping baby.
You are quintessentially postpartum.
Sloppy bun. Eye baggage. Muffin top.
A passenger on the Hot Mess Express, one of a billion yet somehow often feeling like it's a lonely old ride.
She looks at you and takes it all in.
"It goes fast," she says.
And you want to laugh cynically.
Does this woman have any idea how long the day lasts when you live in a firestorm of needs?
When your only fantasies are ones of sleep?
When you do the same damn things from morning to night, when you're lost in the monotony of care-taking, where the only decent conversation you had recently was an embarrassingly witty car-argument with yourself?
Does she know what it's like to wonder who you really even are anymore---you, apart from them, from the them you created, from the them of the air you breathe?
She reads your weary, indulgent smile.
She absorbs your thoughts.
She is deep in reflection because she does know.
She was you once.
And this is what she means when she says simply that it goes fast...
The baby that used to live so endlessly in her arms, the one came unexpectedly and stole her heart, he stood before her today in his cap and gown.
He drove in with his girlfriend and drove out with his mother's heart all wrapped up tight in a knot of conflicting emotions.
This baby of hers, he is ready to fly.
And she feels so proud, feels so incredibly excited for her son on the cusp of his new life, the ones chock-full of adventures and happinesses and sorrows of his own.
And yet she wishes for one more little boy day.
One more milk-drunk nursing.
One more Lego creation.
One more wait at the window for the garbage truck, the school bus, the front loader and the back-hoe and all of the other construction vehicles she never dreamed would be a part of her everyday vocabulary.
Oh my, how she misses all of that.
She looks at the toddler barnacled to your body and she thinks of what she wouldn't give to feel his small self entwined with hers again.
One more bedtime story.
One more "Lay with me, Mommy."
One more pair of dusty cowboy boots, muddy and mucky from a hard day's play.
One more time to look down and see his hand hugging hard hers while they walk home together, full of chatter about bugs and snakes and all the simple things.
In your exhaustion, she is reminded of those days and she feels an ache so wide and deep, a nostalgia so ridiculously wonderful, she cannot find the words for more.
"It goes so fast," she says again.
She remembers how long it took to stuff little arms and legs into snowsuits and hats and mittens and how frustrating it felt when they came back inside three minutes later frozen to the bone, how the house was littered with enough winter accessories dropped all over the floor that it looks like a soggy arctic yard sale.
She wants to tell you to build a snowman with them the very next chance you get.
She remembers the days of sunscreening every blessed inch of tender skin, of the circus act a trip to the pool was, how she just wanted to sit in the sun and relax for FIVE MINUTES, how she didn't want to be splashed and never wanted to swim and she wants to tell you that she can't remember the last time she touched her son's skin.
That there are minutes ahead for just you, many of them, in fact.
That you should swim.
Get in and play, live your life with them, live it fully and joyfully.
Don't sit this stuff out, mama. It is THE stuff.
That's what she'd say if she could.
And those nights where bedtime just drags on, where your first bit of peace and quiet in over twelve love-soaked and sanity-depleting hours is finally within reach, where you've read the extra three stories and butlered in the two glasses of water which you KNOW will only make one of them pee the bed but GOOD GOD, your patience is slipping and DON'T THEY UNDERSTAND HOW LONG YOU'VE BEEN GIVING???
Stop, she says.
Dig deep and give one bit more.
Time waits for no mother, friend.
Soon enough you will be the one in bed first, waiting up late in the dark of night, waiting to hear the garage door go up, waiting for your bedroom door to crack open, waiting for the I'm-Home-Goodnight wave.
She wants you to know that his safe return is enough in these days but she'd give her left arm to spend one more night tucked in his old twin bed, the clip-on light burning bright above them as she reads quietly "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" again.
You re-adjust the baby sitting firmly on your hip as the one now wrapped through your legs begin to whine.
She knows you need to go.
Your work of mothering is a busy work and right now, it doesn't leave much time for these kinds of conversations anyway, the kind that you didn't have in the first place.
She smiles one more time and watches you leave.
You take with you the veil of memories she'd been so lost in.
And she hopes that you understand what she meant when she gave you just those few words.
But how could you, really?
You are young and they are young and it is so very hard to see past your next hour sometimes, much less almost two decades into the future.
If she could tell you just one more thing, this is what she would lay upon your heart...
That their growing up is a blessing, a privilege to witness and participate in because not every mother and child gets this chance.
That the older years are wonderously amazing in their own right, that you will enjoy the heck out of all that is to come, all that waits down their roads of life but that Memory Lane will always be your favorite place to visit.
That it DOES go by faster than you can imagine and that the best thing she can tell you is to be there.
Be in these moments with them.
Read the stories, toss the balls, bake the cookies.
Love them hard.
Recognize the potential in each day, take the opportunities to find what lights their little souls on fire and go do that.
Do it and do it and do it and soak up their joy and their laughter and your togetherness.
Time is a gift.
Your minutes are your life's currency.
Make them count, spend them well, live so richly in love.
It goes fast.
Angi Martin, The Village Journalist