It was the day after Christmas. My husband had to work, and my mom was preparing to head back home after her holiday visit. She offered to take the boys and me out to breakfast before leaving and then stay for a few hours afterward while I worked on the article you are reading now.
I had been struggling for a while, feeling indecisive when it came to what to write for this last article as a reader columnist. I was not striving for epic or ground-breaking, but I did want it to be meaningful to me, a piece to be proud of.
I tossed around ideas: reflections on the previous year, our family Christmas celebration, my journey toward adding another piece to my identity, one that will be realized this spring as I obtain my master’s in education and my teaching certificate. Nothing seemed quite right, and the deadline was rapidly approaching.
We sat at our table in the Heritage Restaurant at The Inn at Gig Harbor, playing tic-tack-toe and hangman as we waited for our food to arrive. It wasn’t until I was nearly done with my eggs Benedict that I noticed two people sitting at the next table over.
They looked as if they were mom and son, and I imagined that he was home from college for the winter break. His age looked about right for it, and there was a focus and depth to their conversation as if each one was trying hard to retain the moment for future recollection. I smiled as I covertly watched them sharing those moments together.
It was the lapping of the apple juice that brought me back to the goings-on at my own table. Carter, who is 5 and really should know better, was attempting to drink his juice cat-style, using only his tongue. I did not have to say a word, but needed only to give him the parent-patented stink-eye I acquired shortly after becoming a mom and have perfected over the years.
He politely picked up his juice, took a dainty drink and gave me a dimple-framed smile that would melt the heart of the Grinch himself.
It was in that moment, my eldest son to my left, my youngest son in the foreground, and this mom and son in the background that something clicked. I felt a lurch in my stomach as the realization set in.
In what would seem like a few short years, I hope to be that woman sitting across from my son who has grown into a young man and has left home to embrace his own path, his own life. I will be leaning in, eyes memorizing the way his hair rakishly falls across his face, ears listening to him talk about the new people in his life and the adventures he has experienced. I will want to hold on to those moments with him before he has to leave, before more time passes by.
I looked across the table at my mom, and it occurred to me that she has already been that woman, her daughters long since grown, each with a life and family of their own. I found in this everyday ordinary moment one that perfectly captured the passage of time, a weight and substance I cannot quite put into words.
It is not that I want time to stop, that I want my boys to stay children and me to remain in the twilight of my 30s forever, but it would be nice if time could tick by just a little slower. I would like to savor these moments just a little longer.Nancy Magnusson is one of five reader columnists whose work appears on this page. She lives with her husband and their two young sons just outside of Gig Harbor. They enjoy focusing on the simple things in life and taking the road less traveled. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.