Crying in the Dime Store

The alternative is horrible… a teenager who is not ready to leave home when he’s supposed to, a teenager who — for whatever reason — can’t launch.  

But the empty nest reality is pretty ugly this week.

I’m experiencing the “last” everything — the “last time I’ll drop him at school,” the “last time I’ll ever take any of my children to school, something I have done regularly since the oldest went to Mrs. Wolf’s preschool class in 1988,” the “last sandwich someone will make for a school lunch,” the “last time I’ll ask ‘How’s your homework going?'”  You get the idea.

I knew I’d lost it when I went alone to the dime store yesterday, on an errand for my husband who rarely asks me to do errands for him.  I was glad for the distraction.  

Until I got in the store and felt suddenly bereft that I didn’t need any pipe cleaners — ever again. As in “When will I ever fight traffic to come in here at rush hour, hell hour really (that realm between school and dinner when everything has to happen and everyone is tired), because we have to buy pipe cleaners, construction paper, foam balls to make solar systems with, or because someone realized they can’t be a Power Ranger for Halloween because all the cool girls are doing that and we definitely don’t want to emulate them and it’s tomorrow and we have to START OVER with a costume?”  Seriously, I will never get to do that again — save the day, solve the problem, be the hero because, yes, even if I am a martyr about it, I WILL drive you to Bruce Variety again, and I will pay for it.

It’s over.  My years of parenting at-home are over, ending with tomorrow’s last day of school for my youngest.

I cried in the dime store, standing in front of the overpriced party supplies.  Then I melted down further in the athletic socks aisle.  Then I couldn’t even let my eyes fall on the school supplies.

I put on sunglasses, and I acted cool.  I think I looked like I was shoplifting.  I wasn’t.  I was simply grieving the end of an era.

One I thought would NEVER end, days so endless sometimes that I despaired of getting to dinner time.  And years that went so fast that I remember waiting for the mailman to deliver the list of who was in the kindergarten class with my oldest as if it were yesterday.  And agonizing over the potential implications of the contents of that list as if they were the biggest challenge my children — or I — would face.

Just because something’s a cliche doesn’t mean it doesn’t break your heart — right there in the pipe cleaner aisle.  I’m a goner.

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~ by Cary on May 21, 2009.

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