The minivan pulled in front of the row of cars parked near me. It was perpendicular - preventing any in the line of three cars from exiting. There was no one sitting in the cars, but it struck me as odd... until I saw a woman, get out of the ill parked van with a single balloon. I set down the book I was reading and watched as she tied the balloon to the driver's side mirror of the sedan next to me. She went back to her van and reached in to retrieve something which she started shaking in her right hand. She removed the cap, then began writing S E N I O R on the passenger side window. The smeared, white letters could have been made with shoe polish. She walked to the back of the car and wrote 2 0 1 6 across the back glass. On the back driver's side window she wrote C O N G R A T S. She decorated every side without blocking visibility.
I was fascinated watching this mother decorate her teen's car before school was dismissed. I looked at the clock and calculated she had about seven minutes until the final bell rang. As I waited on my two middle schoolers, I thought how soon I might be decorating the oldest's and I shuddered to think about it. She finished her project and returned to her van. She set down the oversized window marker and reached for her camera. It was almost nostalgic to see an actual camera, rather than holding up a cell phone and using the camera app. She moved around the car, framing the perfect shots and adjusting the lens. My throat tightened a little when I saw her wrap the camera strap around her neck and pull out a tissue from her hip pocket. Honestly, I felt like crying too as she dabbed her eyes, shook her head and tried to prevent sorrow from taking over this moment. She returned the tissue to her pocket and glanced at her watch. Without thinking, I glanced at my watch too. She snapped a few more shots and reviewed them in the three inch monitor on the back of the camera. As she opened the door to her mini van, she gave the decorated car one more look and her eyes slid over to mine. As we held each other's gaze, in a brief second we became the same. We were mothers. She had been where I was, and I was heading where to she is.
My chin lifted as my lips turned into a smile. I wanted to be encouraging but my eyes stung and gave me away. Realizing this, she breathed out a half-sigh/half-laugh and shrugged. Both of us knowing that time could not be slowed and it's perfect rhythm unavoidable. In the stillness of that moment, I treasured the time I had left with my kids and she remembered the experiences she already had.
She waved and climbed into her van and drove away.
It's not going to be long before my husband and I are making graduation plans for our two. It seems impossible that this much time has already passed. Before I became a mother, I remember a co-worker saying that time goes faster when you have children. If you're a parent and have *not* experienced this phenomenon, then please write to me and explain your secret formula and I'll figure out a way for us to pitch it on Shark Tank.
Seeds to Share:
Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Kahlil Gibran - Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.