……Dear Empty Nester Me
What the hell were you thinking?
You went to the grocery store at 11AM on a Tuesday?! Seriously?!
Have you lost your aging mind?
You should have known what would happen! You should have predicted it.
But, no. You just had to get out there to buy those red peppers, didn’t you? In the middle of the week. When all the young Mommies are out there with their adorable little ones in their arms.
You should have predicted what would happen.
There you were, buying your soy milk and chia seeds. Your recycled toilet paper and your organic kale.
Not a juice box or a fruit roll up in sight.
And along came the very people who are supposed to shop in the middle of a sunny Tuesday. A pretty young Mom, her three or four year old daughter walking beside the carriage, and the sweet little toddler with the golden curls. The one who sat in the grocery cart seat, his chubby hands fixed on the bar in front of him. The little guy who looked up at you with those perfect sky blue eyes. Who responded to your smile with a frown of his golden brows and a pout of his sweet little boy mouth.
You felt your heart thump and swell, but what did you expect?
You thought that you were doing just fine when you tried to walk away from the little boy. You thought you were moving on, thinking about the coffee beans and the allergy meds.
But then you came around the corner, down the frozen food aisle. And there was the young Mom, with her daughter holding onto her leg, the baby in her arms. You tried to just walk by, but then you saw the little guy leaning out of her arms, reaching for the floor. You saw his cheeks, red with frustration, and you heard that little voice say with near desperation, “Down! Down, Momma, Down!”
And there you were, twenty years ago, in this same spot, with your own little boy demanding his freedom. You felt the sadness sweep up and around you, holding you close once again. You wanted to talk to that young woman, but you bit your lip and moved away.
You wanted to tell her, “Whatever you do, don’t put him down! Hold him, as tight as you can. Never let him go.”
Note to self: always shop on Saturdays, when all the old people are in the store, and there are no beautiful babies to break your heart.