Time is a funny thing when you are a mother. One minute you are changing diapers and rocking tiny little humans to sleep and the next thing you know you are tossing the car keys to your baby and telling him to be careful on his way to work.
But sometimes there are moments in our motherhood journey where time stands still for just a few moments - moments that make our breath catch in our lungs and provide us with gifts like insight and gratitude with a twinge of sadness.
Last night I had one of those moments.
As I sat on the bleachers in a crowded sports complex cheering on my 14 year old and his basketball team, a scene at the end of the room caught my eye.
It was a scene from my past.
The four basketball courts on the other side of our basketball court were decorated for a holiday festival. Bouncy houses, life-size holiday figures, Christmas lights, and holiday arts and crafts activity tables filled the other four courts.
For a while, the space stood empty. The lights were dimmed and a picture of what life used to be like was frozen before me.
The bouncy houses loomed large in the corners, just begging laughing children to kick off their shoes and climb inside. The arts and crafts tables sparkled neatly around the room, beckoning eager preschoolers to come shake glitter everywhere. I remembered exactly what life used to be like all those years ago when my teenagers were younger.
And in that moment, I wished I was back there.
And then the lights clicked on and the doors to the festival opened. Within minutes the other four courts were alive with excited children and their already exhausted parents.
And there I was - sitting in my present day parenting journey surrounded by teenagers playing basketball while I watched scenes from my past on the courts beside us.
While the parents in our court sat huddled in bleachers watching 13 and 14 year old pieces of our hearts compete against each other, the parents at the holiday festival huddled around pieces of their own hearts as they led them from activity to activity.
While the parents on the bleachers clapped for 3 point shots that landed, the parents at the holiday festival clapped for glitter-filled papers of snowflakes and Christmas trees.
While the parents on the bleachers grimaced and held their breath when a player landed hard on his elbow, the parents at the holiday festival shot nervous glances our way, surely wondering what their future parenting life would be like on our court.
While the parents on the bleachers chatted with each other about how short (yet expensive) a teenager’s Christmas wish list could be, the parents at the holiday festival shared tips about how to score the best price on this year’s newest toys.
While the parents on the bleachers confirmed their weekend basketball tournament schedule with each other, the parents at the holiday festival confirmed play dates for the weekend.
As time stood still and I reflected on both scenes before me, I realized my heart suddenly felt fuller. While I will always miss those days of glittery holiday festivals, the view from the bleachers is filled with its own kind of glittery magic too.
After the game, a mom from the holiday festival held her little boy’s hand and led him toward the parking lot. I walked a few paces behind her with my own little boy - except now my little boy is 14 years old and towers above me. Although our evenings on the courts had been very different, the reality is that the evening for myself and that other mom hadn’t been that different at all - we were both just parents loving our children and enjoying being a part of their life.
Whether we are watching the tiny versions of our children gleefully experience holiday magic or we are watching the teenage versions of our children push themselves and form connections with teammates on a basketball court, there is something purely magical and beautiful about watching our children live their lives.
Because the truth is that no matter what court we are on right now as parents, the view is magical.