It’s become apparent that the tables have turned. The winds have shifted. Somewhere between preschool playdates and Middle School dances, my children have become their own people and have needed me less in some ways. However, my own survival skills have been compromised it seems. This became apparent when I found myself stuffing a bag of chips into a basket full of clean laundry and swiftly making a break for my bedroom… where I could eat bad food all by myself. When the kids were younger, I would do this at times so that they we wouldn’t see me mowing down a half a bag of chocolate chips after a tough day. Now I do it because if I don’t save something back for myself before I leave the house in the morning, there will be nothing left by the time I get home after school. Nothing good, anyway.
I may spend an hour or more of a day cruising the aisles of the local super market filling my cart full of frozen broccoli, bags of apples, cheese sticks, and granola bars – all to make sure there are healthy foods in the house for our children. But then I become disoriented and weak when I get to the cookie aisle, and just on a whim decide to throw in a package of some chocolate treat manufactured by those crafty Keebler elves. Ah yes, what a delicious treat I shall have for myself some day in the coming week! I may even have been thinking of that particular treat during the work day or while driving home, only to arrive home, open the pantry door and be greeted by an empty, busted up tray holding a few measly crumbs. And then I see it – the chocolaty evidence in the corners of my somewhat remorseless children’s mouths.
The same is true of tape, sharpened pencils, and postage stamps. These are things I try to always make sure are stocked in our office supplies. But again, when I need tape, a stapler, or even just a notepad – no matter how many times I’ve filled my desk, it’s an Office Max ghost town when I need something. When trying to take an important phone message in a hurry, all I can come up with is a broken purple crayon and the back of political flyer. Later when I share the message with my husband he asks if Grimace has been taking messages at our house.
No matter how many loads of laundry I do in a week, my stack of clean clothes yields only a few pairs of underwear and one mateless sock. The last time I went to fetch the laptop to use at school, there was no little green light blinking – only a message of “Low Battery.” Last week, I went to grab a sweatshirt to throw on for a walk. I looked high and low, but couldn’t find it. When I finally decided to just wear something else, I looked out the window and saw it riding away on the back of my son as he left on his bike for the park. I think I get it now. The reason children must grow up and leave their home, is merely so that their parents can continue to survive.