Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Last Jolly Rancher

          Retrieving random items out of pants pockets, turning off lights, flushing toilets; mothers do these things in endless repetition. We never give them much thought; they’re just part of our daily routine.  We wonder if we will ever walk upstairs after everyone has left for school to find all the lights turned off, or into the family room without finding dirty socks and shoes on the floor.Occasionally, we get overwhelmed and annoyed; we foolishly try to wish them away - the socks and the broken pencils in their pockets, the routine. Along the way, wise women who’ve traveled before us have warned us not to wish such wishes, but we recognize their wisdom too late. Before we can say, “Wait! I didn’t mean it!” our wishes are granted.

            A few days ago I stood in my laundry room staring into my hand. Two pieces of candy lay in my open palm; Jolly Ranchers, the ones Mrs. Smiley hands out. Mrs. Smiley is one of our favorite teachers and Jolly Ranchers are her calling card. She always has a full jar on her desk. She throws them at her Jr. High students whenever they get an answer correct in class. She hands them out generously and with a huge welcoming grin to younger siblings who stop in her classroom for a visit or students who help her with projects after school. Mrs. Smiley taught each of my children in turn. By the time Peter was in her class, he’d been dipping into the Jolly Rancher jar for over a decade.

            Peter graduated from the 8th grade this week, so I’ve washed my last Holy Spirit Catholic School uniform. I’ve enjoyed the transition to high school with my three older children; I know the experience will be a good one for Peter too. It’s letting go of the little moments that tug at my heart. The final “I love you” every morning in the car pool line and thousand “Hi Mom”s in the parking lot after school. Holding hands as we walked in together into kindergarten. School plays and room parties and field trips, the way their faces lit up when they saw I was there. Hopes and wishes and disappointments, shared over hot chocolate afterschool, these are the moments I wish I still had to look forward to.  

        It is those small voices I miss, the ones whose bad day could be made wonderful by something as insignificant as a Jolly Rancher in their pocket. It's that presence, the connection and shared experience I wish I could hold on to. I miss every moment of every stage, every toothless grin, stained uniform shirt and homework battle. I miss all the things I used to worry about and nag them about and the even friends I didn’t want them to associate with. Those older women, the ones who warned me, were wise indeed. Now I’ve joined their ranks.

As I indulge in a few tears and an overly sentimental blog post, I realize I am the luckiest of women, because I have so much to miss and so much to look forward to. I would like to express my gratitude to God for blessing me with my children, Emily, Allison, Andrew and Peter. I thank each of them for letting me share in their lives. I thank them for allowing me come to lunch and recess and for the chance volunteer in their classes. I thank them for not complaining {much} when I took an endless stream of photographs of any event that could’ve remotely been considered memorable. They didn’t disown me when I wore costumes to their Halloween parties and talked with my friends 'forever' in the parking lot after school, and truly I am grateful. Eighteen years as a “Holy Spirit Mom” and the charitable nature of my children, has provided means for more wish fulfillment than I could ever have imagined.

                More memories than I can count are now the Jolly Ranchers in my pocket; they are what I cling to when I miss the “children” my kids used to be. They fill me with gratitude, hope and expectation. Kids, I love you all – I wish we could do it all again. Peter, I’m keeping the red Jolly Rancher, it’s cherry. You can have the green one. Love, Mom

1 comment:

  1. Anne,

    You brought tears to my eyes. I'm right there with you, jolly ranchers and all. Thanks for putting it into words.