Thursday, October 1, 2015

Croissants and Crossroads

I went to one of my favorite bakeries yesterday, to Bibi's Cafe and Bakery in Westwood, Massachusetts. I was hoping for one of their chocolate croissants. They always sell out of them before noon, and I was happy to get the last one. There is something decadently unapologetic about Bibi's chocolate croissant. Many chocolate croissants are mostly croissant, with a delicate chocolate filling. Not Bibi's. The rich, buttery croissant envelopes a thick slab of a chocolate center. It's really good chocolate and it plays so well off of the buttery pastry.  And, there's plenty of it, enough chocolate to last through every bite.

While I was ordering my croissant, a mom and three little children came into the bakery. They arrived with the small fanfare that you sometimes can see, can feel even, in families where the children are all under a certain age. I felt the energy of the kids, and especially the mom, as she sat everyone down at a small table and got them settled. The mom had that look, the look that says I am a little bit stressed managing all of these small people in this small space. But it is a good stressed. A proud stressed, as in, here we are, we are at the bakery and this is my little family.

I remember that feeling, and that look, well. My kids are almost all grown up now; my oldest is twenty and my younger two are not far behind. I used to be the bakery mom, the mom with the minivan, the activities schedule on the bulletin board, the playdates, and the after school outings. I look at pictures of myself from that time and I think, where did all of that go? I remember it so well, but it's almost as if it were a different me. I was thinner then, perhaps a little more put together if that makes any sense. I was the young mom. And I was totally immersed in being the mom of young kids.

When I say I was immersed, I'm not talking about work life balance, about being a stay-at-home mom as opposed to a working mom, because in my tenure as "mom" I've done it all: full-time work, part-time, and no-time. What I mean is, my life was all about being the epicenter of these small humans I was blessed to be raising.

I'm still mom of course, but I'm a different mom now.  I look different than the mom I used to be. I caught a glimpse of my graying hair in the mirror the other day, the face that is not quite the face of a thirty year-old and thought, well, yeah. I am getting old. It's kind of inevitable. My oldest child lives on her own now in a big city, miles from home. My younger kids can drive themselves to school. There is less chaos and more real conversation, about life, and world events, and future plans. Gone are the Disney movies and PBS, replaced by TV shows that sometimes we watch together and sometimes we watch separately. Going out for dessert, a treat when my kids were little, is now more about me wanting ice cream or a cookie and the kids coming along so mom doesn't have to get a treat all by herself.

I wanted to say to the bakery mom, hold onto this time. It's going to be gone before you know it. If you do it right, your reward will be that your kids will leave and go off to live fulfilling lives. So memorize every moment because soon these moments will not be yours anymore.  People say these things all the time, but it never really hits home until you experience it yourself. But still, I wanted to try to tell that mom. Because these years, these moments, are so precious.

I'm glad I got to be the bakery mom. I know she's in there somewhere, underneath the layers of time and age. I miss her, I do. But I know that all of it got me here. The "getting older" version of me is the product of all of those crazy, wonderful, fulfilling years of being the bakery mom. And the older version of my kids is the product of that time too. I'm so happy for my kids, for the lives that they are leading and the exciting things that they get to do now as they become adults. The mom that I was, the bakery mom, helped bring them to this point. And the mom that I am today gets to see what happens next.

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