It did not occur to me that a mere packet of jam cookies could evoke such strong emotions.
It was the first trip to the grocery store since returning after dropping my second (and last!) child at school. A routine shopping trip, fighting jetlag and trying hard to get back into the groove and trying even harder to NOT think of a home without the kids – living with you!!
It was odd to walk into the cereal aisle and not reach out for the largest box of chocos that I could lay my hands on. At supersonic speed my brain was reliving the innumerable time when I had combed this aisle for every variation of chocos possible – Stars and Planets, Choco Duets, Chocolate Chocos and so on. As a mom on their Facebook page said, “My shopping cart always had a Chocos!!” And I was proud of it!
This time, the shelves were stocked to the ceiling with boxes of Chocos and I did not reach out for them. I had half a box sitting in my shelf and no one to eat it! I briefly crossed paths with the thought that I did not have to buy this sugared cereal till the next summer visit by the student. I chalked that up to one more sign that I am an empty nester.
Pushing my cart filled with kitchen staples such as whole grains, I came across jams and spreads. This is another section I dearly love. I have spent many anxious minutes debating over the pros and cons of a 200gm Nutella (bonus – the glass jar can be used as a handy drinking vessel) and the 400 gm Nutella (in my opinion too big and too lacks nutritive value in large doses) The same decision paralysis would apply to the beloved Kissan Mixed fruit jam (a staple from my childhood as well!), the de riguer of the simple Peanut Butter Jelly sandwich.
These I walked past as well, that list of signs growing in my head.
The next aisle to evoke some serious thought was the shampoos and conditioners. We went from a home of three women, with varying hair lengths to one with a close cropped style. This meant that the existing supply of S and C would service innumerable pea sized drops. Feminine hygiene products did not feel much love either – One quick pick up and was off to the cash registers.
Several items were being quickly being added to my list of signs. Please keep this list in mind as you get to the end of article, if you do!!
The unifying thread across this grocery store trip was the size of my purchases. I picked up a packet of Maggi where earlier I would have picked up two, even three. All flours and other staples were cut by half. Never mind that my bill at the end of it all was still four figures; in my mind, I had, sadly, not picked up the staples on my shopping list.
Back home and putting things away, the full import of my shopping trips-to-be, nay my new life, hit me and hit me hard. Like the proverbial straw which broke the camel’s back, all it took was a packet of Jim-Jams to allow the tears to pour out. I went item by item over my list of things – meant to keep me over the edge and that is exactly what happened
This specific packet had lain in the corner of my pantry unit, a forgotten vestige to time that has only recently passed by me. This Jim-Jam, “A crisp biscuit sandwich with thick Vanilla cream, topped with a dollop of Jam, kissed with sugar crystals,” is a receptacle of my momhood woven into kitchen and food memories. I cannot look at another one of these without thinking about my two dearly beloveds, cozying up with Jim-Jams a glass of milk for a midnight snack.
With this episode, I have banished my jet lag. I am in uncharted territory. I am now on a cautious look-out for other innocuous items which MAY have the potential to open the floodgates.
Oh the life of an empty-nester~~