I didn't notice them at first, the mother and her little boy, which is surprising because both of them were straight-up gorgeous. The well-dressed mother had a face made for the cover of Vogue, while the boy had the kind of chubby red cheeks scary old aunts love to pinch! Also kiss!BOY: Oh no! Here come the scary old aunts again! THE ONES WHO WANT TO EAT MY FACE!Anyway.The boy and his mother were sitting at a restaurant table, eating chips and salsa. My college student son and I were at the next table over, doing the same thing.It wasn't until the little boy (he was maybe 4 years old) laughed aloud that I started paying attention to mother and son. He laughed and swung his legs beneath the tabletop. She smiled. She said something. He shook his head so that his brown hair flopped into his eyes. He swung his legs some more. She offered him another chip.And suddenly I had a rush of remembering — what it felt like to spend my days in the company of small boys.Sure, I remembered the mind-numbing boredom — how long the days were sometimes and how isolated I felt. I remembered the sudden and inexplicable temper tantrums. The messes ...The random acts of destruction involving silverware, pieces of bread and the VCR player. The worries that somehow this child wasn't progressing as fast as that child.But I also remembered the impromptu field trips to Beck Street where we watched dump trucks in action or to the pet store, which wasn't as expensive (or exhausting!) as a trip to the zoo.I remembered the snuggling. The towels pinned like superhero capes around the neck. The thrilling dramas enacted with ninja turtles on the kitchen counter while I made dinner. The first at-bats in front of a rubber tee on a warm spring day in Lindsey Garden. The kisses out of the blue. The rereadings of "Goodnight Moon." The fuzzy pajamas. The soft breathing at night. My satisfaction that for now, at least, my child was safe.As the young mother and her boy prepared to leave, I pointed at my own son and me."This is you in 20 years," I said.She smiled. "I've been thinking the very same thing.""Only you'll have cuter clothes," I said, because, hello, I didn't want to alarm her.She laughed, then turned serious. Gentle."It goes fast, doesn't it?"It does go fast. She knows that, of course, because only moments ago she greeted her son as a newborn. And here they are now, eating chips and salsa for lunch!Meanwhile, I thought of the things that this mother has in front of her — the happiness and the agonizing hurt. There is still so much life craziness, sad and sweet, waiting for her to taste.And looking at her there, I knew I would choose to do every bit of it all over again.Only with cuter clothes.