The minivan door slid open and children started spilling out like they’d been shoved inside a clown car. From where I stood across the parking lot, I counted five little ones ranging in age from two to ten, all of them clearly siblings.
I generally watch in moments like these to catch a glimpse of the parents. Not because I worried about them—the kids were well behaved, the older ones making sure to grab little hands and prevent untimely dashes across the pavement—but because as the mother of just one kid, there is a fair amount of Schadenfreude that accompanies moments like these. I always think: surely these parents must be holding onto the vestiges of their sanity by a thin, single thread? Surely they’re so sleep deprived they can only look like a pair of zombies after a particularly grueling battle?
Not so with this couple.
Younger than I expected, the parents exited the car and promptly set to work. It was like watching a well-oiled machine. Mom reached into the back seat and extracted a baby. Dad helped attach baby to a sling on Mom’s chest. Mom made a brief survey of her brood. Dad grabbed a diaper bag the size of which I never expect to see duplicated again in real life. Mom shut the car door. Dad pushed the key to lock it. Mom began ushering the older children toward the store. Dad gathered up the youngest two and plopped them into a grocery cart shaped like a car.
All of this took thirty seconds, tops—and the whole time, they didn’t exchange anything more than a brief smile and a touch of the hands, so fast I almost missed it. The entire moment was a dance these two had clearly perfected over the years, a dance only they knew the steps to, and it carried its own kind of grace.
So often, parenthood intrudes on our idea of the perfect romance, but this couple didn’t need a showy flash of affection or hours in which to gaze longingly at one another’s eyes—they just needed one stolen second.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Thanks to my lovely guest Tamara Morgan for stopping by!
Her home is in the Inland Northwest, where she lives with her husband, daughter, and variety of household pets. Feel free to drop her an email at tamaramorganwrites (at) gmail (dot) com or follow her on Twitter at @Tamara_Morgan.