Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Whole Foods, Whole Tears

Last week, my daughter posted an old photo on her Facebook page, one that she came across while purging her own supply of things saved over the years.  She's on a campaign to sort things out around her home, making ready for some decisions about the future home of their family.  I remember doing something very much the same when we were returning to New York from our home on Cape Cod and the children were entering their teens.  I went through boxes and boxes of things I had saved, from Day One of the nursery school years, and I cried for the two days it took for me to reduce the number of cartons to only a few.  It was a difficult task and, as I went through the painful motions, I remembered my own mother and her attitude about the saving of "things".  I always thought her un-sentimental.  She never brought out old photos, rarely talked about "old times" and only kept a small number of the things done by her grandchildren through their formative years.  I knew she was a proud mother and grandmother but it wasn't until I had to deal with the act of letting my children "go" that I understood her reluctance to put herself through that pain.

The photo posted on Sara's page was one of me, in a bathrobe, seated at a kitchen table.  The remnants of a Saturday or Sunday breakfast were still on the table as were my two babies, one an infant in a little baby-bouncer and the other, a toddler, lunging across my body.  I looked tired.  I was tired.  My daughter told all that she loved this photo, it showed her mom, being a mom and she was glad that I appeared to be tired.  Perhaps she had held an image of me not ever being overwhelmed or feeling challenged by the constant needs of two babies at the same time.  Maybe this photo gave her comfort, restored her own confidence, affirmed her belief that motherhood is not an easy job, even for her own mother.  I'm not sure what emotions the photo elicited in her but it did come on the shirt-tails of an emotional memory of my own, earlier that same day.

I'm never sure when these emotional zaps are going to strike.  I sometimes can anticipate one and will do what I can to fend it off.  I know with what I can and cannot tolerate and most of the time, reflections back to early days of mothering or, these days, grand-mothering, are guaranteed to bring tears and heartaches that are the result of knowing that "those days" will never return. "Those days", even when they were difficult, were wonderful and oh, so fulfilling.  This time, it was a stop over at a "Whole Foods" supermarket on the way home from a day in Boston that brought it all on. No, I haven't any attachments to the produce department or the cheese displays....it's the entire place, the ambiance, the sights and smells, that cause me to remember days that were, as I look back now, precious few.

My daughter lived in various locations in the Boston area during her post law-school and early motherhood days.  She and her husband loved the city and were married in the heart of it.  Soon after, they started their family with the birth of Lucy, our first granddaughter.  They remained in the area for a few years and moved to the suburbs with their infant, Phoebe who is now six years old.  Eight years ago, with the arrival of Lucy, Sara set out on her own journey into motherhood and it was all fresh and new, at the same time, challenging and I was with her on her journey, every step of the way despite the distance that separated us.  I would get phone calls and emails that shared photos, little videos, questions, and many times, solutions to some of the problems that came up naturally as her first baby developed month by month.  There were so many new products on the market, things that I would never have imagined, in the baby care department, and most of them were found in the supermarket, her favorite," Whole Foods".  As she would report these new-found items and baby foods to me, I would envision her, pushing the cart, baby seated in the front, as she graced her way through the store.  I'm sure she spent many hours doing this, just as all moms do, and it was rather mundane to her.  But, to her own Mommy, it was anything but mundane.  It was mother, reliving some of the most special times in her life, through her daughter, now a mother herself.  I imagined her selecting things from the baby section and then, when they had returned to their home, introducing the new item to Lucy.  When we visited, we invariably accompanied them on shopping trips and the unique aromas of this particular store were imprinted on my brain forever as part of that special time in our lives.

So, when I enter a "Whole Foods" supermarket, my thoughts immediately fly to those days, the yesterdays that seemed like they were moments ago.  I don't know where the time has gone.  I wish I could recapture all the goo-goos, ga-gahs,  and the first attempts at everything that eight and six year olds take so for-granted now.  The babies are growing up.  Their mother is an experienced mom now and there isn't any need for stops at the baby goods section of the supermarket.  I wonder if she misses it in the same way as I.  I'm sure that she doesn't feel the tug at her heart when she grocery shops nor does she feel the need to touch a
baby pacifier package or a Sippy Cup.  I'm sure she probably doesn't even notice that the market has a distinct aroma.  But I do, and there are times when I just want to jump in my car and drive to that place where my heart is allowed to melt just one more time.  I'm just not ready to let go.  My mother was much smarter. Oh, and Nostalgia......who needs you anyway?


  1. And the mid-Cape is going to have it's very own Whole Foods which is scheduled to open in May as I heard on the news this morning. More nostalgia ops for you. More food choices for me.

  2. Oh, June, you are the harbinger of gladdest of tidings! Our prayers will be answered. Joe has been trying to find that information. Thank you.