Thursday, May 3, 2012

Grocery Store Blues

Odd as it might sound, one of the places that made me feel sad when each of my kids first left for college was the grocery store.  I suppose it was the connection between how much time I had spent over the years feeding each of those full-grown kids and the realization that now I wouldn’t be doing it anymore that led to the bewildering sense of loss I felt as I pushed my cart through the store.  And it didn’t get any easier with experience—each child’s absence brought on the same rush of emotion.  I would see the Kaiser rolls in the bakery that my oldest child took in his lunch for years, or I’d push my cart past the Gatorade display and think of the gallons I’d bought for my middle child, or I’d see the blue boxes of Oatmeal Squares that I’d bought every week for years for my youngest, and before I knew it, my eyes would be misting up.  This went on aisle after aisle, food after food: bags of Empire apples, Goldfish crackers, Chips Deluxe Rainbow cookies, s’more granola bars, and key lime yogurt.  And then I’d start remembering all the years of going grocery shopping with my kids, especially the younger two who used to munch their way through the aisles, starting with pizza from the Carry-Out Café and ending with donuts from the bakery. So by the time I got to the dairy aisle, I'd be sniffling a little and even wiping away a tear or two, as kindly fellow shoppers gave me curious but sympathetic looks.  Eventually, I got used to a shorter grocery list, and now I can get through a shopping trip with nary a tear!  But I have to admit, there’s a bounce in my step when one of my kids is coming home, and I get to stock up on some of their favorite foods again.

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