Every new mother has heard these words, meant to describe the blink of an eye that constitutes childhood. Every old mother has said them, too. I didn't respond positively when I was on the receiving end: sleep-deprived and unsure what to do with collicky new babies, time couldn't move fast enough for me. Hindsight brings a different perspective, of course, and I now utter the same words to others embarking on the adventure of motherhood. They're likely no more receptive than I was when I walked in their shoes.
I thought about that today as I shared a church pew with the lovely, lively adults my collicky babies have become, at a memorial service for the mother of a couple of their grade-school classmates. Beyond the obvious sorrow of the occasion, the realization of just how swiftly time really does pass, and how little of it we're really granted here, hit me like a slap in the face. And left me with a great jolt of inspiration to appreciate what moments I have left.
The woman whose life we celebrated was a vibrant and generous soul, beautiful by every definition of the word. I hadn't known her well, but years spent with other parents on gymnasium bleachers cheering grade-school basketball games or arranging cookies at parent association meetings bring a sense of community that lingers well beyond graduation. She couldn't have been much older than I -- which of course I regard as far too young -- and in her final months had faced debilitating illness with grace that was truly inspirational.
The church was packed, and among the masses were faces that brough back all sorts of fond personal memories. The kids' teachers. Their classmates, who just yesterday I toted in the back of the mini-van and hosted at sleep-overs, now handsome young adults. Their parents, the moms and dads who sat alongside us at all those school plays, track meets and pizza parties, now a bit grayer, slower of step, but hanging in there.
The people with whom I have traveled through what really were some of the best years of my life, now gathered to acknowledge the passing of one among us. The first among us, a sober reminder of what awaits the rest, and a gift to someone like me, who has focused on much on just getting through those years that I've failed to appreciate their blessings.
I'll stop advising young mothers to enjoy these years. It's a lesson that can only be learned first-hand and after the fact anyway.
I'm better served looking in the mirror when I deliver that lecture, and if I pay attention this time, perhaps I'll discover that my best days aren't past, but ahead.