Life is full of lines. Lines at the grocery store. Lines at the post office. A line of tiny humans asking me for juice.
We’re always waiting for something.
And some of us are better at waiting than others.
I had Caroline at the post office a few days ago, and it was lunch time so it was fairly busy. Caroline was being a typical three-year-old, pretending to be a dog and having me throw a pretend bone that she would go catch and then bring back to me. Eventually she got bored of that and started announcing quite loudly to the crowd that she had to poop.
It’s amazing what you can learn about people while they’re waiting in line. The lady behind me laughed – having three children of her own, she remembered being in this phase of life. She and I ended up chatting about it and laughing about all the crazy things kids do.
A few people back was an older woman who was quite appalled with the whole act from beginning to end. Hailing from the generation of “children are seen and not heard,” I’m sure that my child barking and running around talking about her poop was quite shocking to her.
Behind her was a 20-something girl on her cell phone, who was talking with her friend, with that face that I remember from being that age, the one that said “I would never let my children behave that way in public. Who does this mom think she is?”
As I observed all these people in line behind me, the mom I’d been talking to and I had an interesting revelation. You truly never know how you’re going to react to a situation until you are in it. I’d like to think I won’t have that look of disapproval on my face that the older woman had when I am in her shoes, but who knows what crazy thing kids will be doing when I am her age? I’m already surprised with how much I’ve changed in just the last 8 years: With my first child, there’s no way I would have let her behave the way that Caroline did… But three children later, several years of maturity under my belt, and the fact that I am generally too busy to care about what other people think of me now means that if my kid wants to be a puppy and chase a pretend bone and then start announcing to everybody about how she has to the bathroom, then I’m going to roll with that.
I’m going to look at the 20-something behind me and shake my head and smile, knowing that in 10 years when she has her own brood, her thoughts will change and there will be a 20-something behind her learning from her style of mothering, whether she knows it or not.
Someday, I hope to be that older lady behind me; someone with years of experience and wisdom to share with the world. I hope that my girls will use that wisdom and experience to their benefit.
Lord knows I cannot wait to be the mom that I connected with behind me in line, the one with three grown children of her own. Someone who can look at my youngest and remember when hers used to be so little and ridiculous, and smile and laugh and share a few stories.
Everyone in that line has something they contributed to my life that day. Support from the mom, a reminder to not judge others from the 20-something, and hope from the older woman – even as she tskd at us.
This is where I am in my line right now: between that idealistic know it all I used to be and still waiting to become the seasoned life veteran I will hopefully become. Embracing my spot in line isn’t always easy, but situations like the post office help me remember how important every step of the way is – even if I don’t know it while I’m there.