I always aim for the 9:00am Mass (shhh - don't tell God that it's partly to get it over with. I'm pretty certain he doesn't think that's a particularly good reason to choose a Mass time). But I don't necessarily always make it up and out that early on a Sunday morning, particularly if I've fallen asleep on the couch watching an old movie the night before.
As a result I'm a bit of a wanderer, and so I see "regulars" from all three Sunday Masses, depending upon which one I manage to make it to.
This past Sunday I saw a women who, last time I saw her, was pregnant. Yesterday she had a baby carrier in her hands. Her third little girl was nestled in the carrier.
The odd thing is that my first thought was, "Oh - oh, so the baby came home". Or something along those lines.
My FIRST reaction. Good God.
My second was to marvel at how fast time flies when you're spinning away on your little hamster wheel going absolutely nowhere. But with great determination and fortitude. Blah ha.
As I was marveling at the speed with which time seems to be passing, I noticed another family that I used to see regularly when I was pregnant with Thomas. I sat in the same section they did back then - a section I hardly ever go to now. It's where people with children tend to congregate. There's something about the space that seems to lend itself to carriers and strollers and toddlers. But not to me, now.
Anyway, this family have two girls and a boy. Their last child, a girl, was born around the same time as Thomas. Maybe a little after. I can't remember anymore.
When I saw them yesterday, I was stunned. I don't see them very often, but I know I've seen them during the past three years. I'm sure of it. But there they were - not the same family at all. The oldest is now a proper young lady, the toddler is a great big boy and the baby? A real little girl.
This beautiful family, sprouting up before my eyes. And mine hasn't changed a bit. Not one single bit, at least not that anyone looking at me would ever know.
It was odd, the feeling I had seeing that family; like time has forgotten me. Forgotten both My Beloved and me.
It's a strange, strange thing to be surrounded by friends and family - and strangers - with growing children. It's painful in some ways, of course, but it's also oddly frightening. Like I want to run along beside them screaming, "Don't forget me!" or juggle pythons and broken glass so they'll notice me.
I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes now I forget that I was a mother. That I am a mother.
I never forget my children. Ever. But I have trouble remembering that I'm a mother. I see them with their growing families and baby carriers and big round tummies.
And that's just not who I am.
I'm a shadow.