Sometimes life changes so slowly you don’t notice. You don’t really see your own kids grow up because it happens so gradually in front of your eyes. You watch the Sharpie marks climbing up the door frame, and one day, they put on a pair of jeans that just fit and they’re basically Capri pants all of a sudden, so you know they’re growing … but you just don’t see it. 

On the other hand, when you see someone else’s kids, they seem to have transformed overnight from toddlers to teens. It’s dramatically clear how much they have changed and yet it seems to have happened so suddenly.

This isn’t a metaphor. 

This is a very real way of saying that one of my best friends is coming to visit this week, and I swear I was just visiting her after the birth of her first baby and then for the baptism of her second baby (my goddaughter) … and now she also has a 3-year-old I’ve never met (thanks largely to the pandemic). I have no idea how the baby whose first birthday I attended is now in middle school. (Although I still am in shock that my first baby is driving now.)

When my friend and I were in college, we visited New Orleans for Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras and all we cared about was where to get cheap drinks and hear good live music. 

When she came here for her bachelorette party, we researched the best tattoo parlor so we could get matching tattoos. 

And now … well, now we are researching fun things to do with kids here.

Obviously, being a mom in this city, I know the landscape and I know how to pass a weekend with kids, but spending weekends going to birthday parties and track practice is a lot different than being a tourist here. Her youngest daughter is especially excited because she is obsessed with “The Princess and the Frog,” which is of course set in New Orleans, so we are letting that guide some of our decisions. 

We already know we have to get beignets and snowballs, and we are planning a streetcar ride and a romp through Storyland, a trip to the Children’s Museum, and maybe a not-too-scary ghost tour. 

I’m always excited to show off the city, and I can’t wait to meet my friend’s youngest daughter and reconnect with her older two, especially my goddaughter. 

But I can’t help but have a little twinge, remembering that “The Princess and the Frog” was the first movie my 16-year-old saw at what she used to call “the movie Theodore.” (The first time she said “theatre” correctly, I was so sad.) 

Somehow, they’re all growing up. 

So quickly and so slowly all at once.