I Forget My Kids are All Grown Up (Just for a Second)

I was putting some clothes in a bag today to give to Goodwill, and, just for a second, I thought, Save one of those button-down shirts  just in case one of the kids needs a backwards art smock in the fall.

Sometimes, I forget they are all grown up. Just for a second.

Sometimes parents forget their kids are all grown up

I still find myself in the Lego aisle at Target sometimes, and I am not sure how I have gotten there, as if my aging cart – or maybe my aging heart? –  has driven itself to a place that was for so long its destination that it feels like home. The short-term memory fails it, and me – What else did I need here? What was I doing in this part of the store? – but, as is so often the case, the long-term remains.

And the long-term memory (or momery?) takes me to that aisle where I can revisit their childhoods and the easy delight that I, Santa, or the Easter bunny could provide with ease in the shape of colorful boxes of every size, ages in big numbers on the front marking the passage of time. There, I am my young-mom self, at the old house, listening outside their bedroom door to the telltale sounds of click click clicking when we all know damn well they are supposed to be in bed, the sweetness of their brotherly conspiracy and constructive cooperation keeping my hand from the knob. Just for a second.

I have fleeting, crazy thoughts at airports, the kind that will get you arrested if you let them, when walking behind little boys with backpacks and skinny legs and haircuts shaved straight across the backs of their necks, when I wonder – just for a second –  if I could possibly explain very nicely to their young moms that my Good Little Travelers are men now, bigger people than me in so many ways. And so I was wondering if it would be ok if I swooped her little backpacked and barbered boy up into my arms, closing my eyes, and smelling his neck, and pretending he was one of my own, just for a second?

[Read Next: When the Kids Leave Home, Who is the Me Left Behind?]

Sweet dresses with matching cardigans catch my eye in catalogs and in stores, and just for a second, in that briefest of moments when a mom’s reflexes are engaged but her brain is a second behind, and my head whirls around in a double take as I realize it is perfect for her first day of school! And I haven’t even yet made it all the way back around when I remember that of course there is no such girl here anymore; all that is left is a high schooler with a learners’ permit, and a grad student whose next “first day” will be as the teacher herself.

I grab a handful of silverware from the drawer, forgetting for a second that there are only 3 of us for dinner these days. I drop most of them back into the drawer, releasing my hold on them, successful in the letting go. Just for a second.

Related:

How to Keep Your Family Knitted Together Once Kids are Grown 

Wimpy Mom’s Guide to Letting Go of College Bound Children

Beth Thompson writes from a not-quite-empty nest in an old farmhouse in Maryland, where she can also be found knitting, fielding texts from her three grown up children, and lazily reminding her youngest daughter that this is not her first rodeo. You can find her on her blog Quivervoice.wordpress.com and on twitter at Quivervoice.wordpress.com and on twitter at Beth Thompson.

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