All of my most poignant feelings seem to bubble up to the surface at the Stop and Shop. Maybe it's because food shopping is so rote and robotic for me that my mind is clear to wander. Or maybe, as was the case tonight, the super market serves as a walk down a never ending memory lane, each aisle jam packed with food and products that remind you of another time in your life. Tonight I was usurped by a cereal bar.
My shopping trip had begun uneventfully, with me successfully completing a perusal through both the vegetable aisle and the fruit juice aisle. I procured all of the family's favorite juice drinks without so much as a whimper, then I turned the corner into the cereal aisle and all hormonal hell broke loose.
As I reached for a box of Apple Cinnamon Nutra Grain bars, I heard the voice of my son when he was three years old and pictured him standing in front of an open pantry cabinet in his footie pajamas pointing at the box and saying "Dat Bar.". That was it, I immediately began to cry real tears. Confused by my own reaction, I continued down the aisle and tried to pull it together, but as I wheeled my cart, pretending to shop while audibly sobbing, I was hardly inconspicuous. Every person that I passed looked at me as if I had missed my stop on the short bus to crazytown.
To be quite honest, I have never been one to romanticize the baby years. They were wonderful while they lasted, but they were also exhausting, demanding and maddening in some ways. Every stage of independence was welcomed by me.
So why the sudden nostalgic waterworks? I think it's because the teenage years are kicking me squarely in the ass and while I know that my son is a really good kid, he is still argumentative (Mr. Cochran, your witness), willful and occasionally fresh mouthed(aka normal). Maybe it's not about my kids at all. Maybe I'm finally struck by the looming inevitability of mid-life. I still feel like a teenager, but what self respecting 16 year old would ever fall asleep 20 minutes into a movie, drink flavored seltzer water or stop to consider the relative comfort of their shoes?
So have I hit the other side of middle age? Am I officially no longer a badass? I don't really know for sure, but I do know that as sure as Jewel sings like a deranged escapee from a Swiss Miss box,next week, I'm switching to Special K bars.