Not So Long Ago

Last night we headed to Target as a family.  Kerrington was propped onto the front of the shopping cart in her car seat carrier.  Reese balanced on the outside of the cart precariously, leaning as far as she could to peek into the dollar bins and announcing with impressive vocal projection that she wanted the stickers.  And the markers.  And the fluffy little thingy.  Brooke was sitting on the floor, crying, and pulling off her boots as I coaxed her to climb onto the opposite side of the cart to counterbalance Reese's weight and prevent capsizing.  She already had stripped off her jacket. 

Twenty-two degrees outside and the child still does not want to wear clothes.

Solo shoppers who were on a mission sidestepped us with agility and speed.  I understand.  Our family no longer arrives somewhere.  We invade.

In the midst of this I made eye contact with a couple who seemed to be in no rush, no rush at all.  They smiled.  I noticed that the woman was pregnant and asked when she was due.  Yesterday, she answered.  They were having a girl. 

I could have been witnessing their final Target trip as a couple.  They were moving slowly, pausing to browse the merchandise, engaging one another in simple, uninterrupted discussion, and, undoubtedly, thinking of the future -- their lives waiting with expectation like a held breath until their little one arrived. 

They might have looked at our family, unruly as it was, as a glimpse into their eventual future.  I regarded them as a reminder of our not-too-distant past.  We walked the store in an attempt to fill the hours until bedtime.  They walked the store in an attempt to jump-start contractions.  We bypassed the baby aisles, already having every pink item we could possibly need.  They lingered in those aisles, feeling the soft fleece blankets and admiring the footed pajamas.  We drove home, our three girls strapped into the van.  Perhaps when they reached their car they glanced at the car seat base, already strapped in place, and envisioned its first use.

We were them once, not so long ago.

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