The wheels on his shoes took him zipping ahead of me and still I checked the dark parking lot to make sure he wasn’t in any danger. The streetlights glowed. Most of the shoppers had already settled into their evening rituals. He really should have been getting ready for bed, but it’s not often he wants to go to the store with me; so when he asked, I found it easy to say yes.
This blonde, blue eyed boy of mine, the angel child that has tested every limit and pushed me beyond what I ever imagined. This boy that can make me want to pull out all of my hair and in the next moment completely melt my heart. This boy that made me a mother. This boy, who will only be a child for a little while longer. It’s all going so fast. And they tell you that. Yet, even in the middle of it – I know I’m not ready for the tomorrows. I’m not ready for the day he’ll leave. I’m not even ready for the day that he’ll grow too big to sit on my lap. It’s all painfully quick.
We zip down the aisles and because it’s just the two of us, we take our time, get samples. I say no to his request for the little cup of coffee, because he really should be in bed. Tomorrow is both his holiday party and his sisters. Long after they’re in bed, I’ll be chopping fruit and potatoes and making ridiculous things like kebab turkeys. But, this is also his last Thanksgiving party. This is the last grade that does all of the fun moments that cling to the remnants of childhood. Next year there will be less crafts and more homework. Less adventure and more schedules. It ends in a blink. And he doesn’t even know how special tomorrow is. That when he’s older and his kids are lying in their beds and he’s chopping pineapple and washing grapes, that he’ll remember that thanksgiving party they had in third grade, when he got to make stone soup and pass out cards.
He careens through the store and doesn’t look for the beaver that earns him a sucker at the register. Somehow that moment has slipped away in the obscurity of his younger self.
We’re just mucking our way around the grocery store. A mother and her son. He lets me grab him and hug him and he clings to me and I press a kiss against his forehead. We pick out granola bars and frivolous treats that a better mother would say no to. We make faces and wait through the checkout process.
We glide into the night. Him on his roller shoes and me on the edge of the cart. I’m young and carefree. I lock him out of the car and pretend like I’m going to leave and he doubles over with laughter. Then I let him convince me to go to one more store so he can play with electronics and he can tell me a few things he just has to get for Christmas. Because this is already a fleeting moment and I already miss tonight. And I wish I could hold it in my memory and play it over and over. I think about asking him if he wants to go to the store tomorrow night, too. But I already know that’s trying too hard.
Tonight was the quiet magic of a son with his mom. Playing out a memory that I’ll cling to when he’s grown. Tonight was special because it’s elusive and treasured. He carried the groceries in the house and the girls came running to see what we bought. And I stood back and watched. This growing boy, I wish I could tell him the depth of my love. But, instead I hold it quiet. I’ll bring the turkey and potatoes to school in the morning and snap a picture of his feathered crown. Then I’ll waive goodbye as he runs to play through his day, this fleeting day of childhood.
Cherylyn Petersen, is a certified holistic health coach and mother of three. She spends her time slaving over the whims of her children, presiding over the PTA, coaching soccer, making dinner, cleaning the house, and sometimes she drinks coffee.