I came back after a couple of days away and walked in the house; a house that usually holds a lot of life. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. Too quiet. And it was clean. Just the way I left it.
But the tears came when I opened the refrigerator. “There’s too much hot sauce in the fridge!” I yelled. It hit me. There are no kids in this house. None. Not one.
Five I have, ages 17 to almost 27. Each unique. Each interesting. Each creative. And they’re gone.
Like will’o-the-wisps from the movie “Brave” they were here — and now they’re gone.
But the evidence of their lives, their personalities, their stuff is everywhere.
And there’s too much hot sauce in the fridge. And too many cookies in the container. And too many toothbrushes in the bathroom. And too many coats in the hall closet. And too many cell phone chargers in the junk drawer, and too much of everything!
But mostly there’s too much hot sauce in the fridge.
As moms we are tuned in to these extensions of our bodies and hearts. We have eyes in the back of our heads, and ears everywhere. We have the sixth sense that comes with parenting – and then they’re gone. We birth them — either through the physical labor of the birth process or the emotional labor of the adoption process. We carry them home in soft and sweet-smelling 0-3 month baby clothes, making sure the car seat is facing the proper way. We teach them to brush their teeth and tie their shoes, eat healthy food and get enough sleep, learn to trust and learn to pray. We bravely wave goodbye at first days of Kindergarten and watch them cross over, alone, to school play grounds–their (and our) version of the river Jordan. We yell at them, hug them, cry with them, laugh with them. We vehemently advocate for them — just as strongly as we urge them to grow to be people who advocate for others.
And then it’s over. One day we could be accused of neglect if we don’t know where they are and the next day we aren’t even allowed to see their medical records.
And as we wave goodbye they don’t look back. It’s part of the armor of growing up, this not looking back. They look forward, as well they should. But we are left waving silently at their backs – and brushing away tears as we recognize this is a rite of passage and nothing will ever be the same.
But whether we have children or not, we all have those “Too much hot sauce in the fridge” moments – the pivotal moments of life’s journey where we know that life will never be quite the same. Life is, for all of us, a series of steps in adapting and choosing to move forward. Those who cannot adapt end up in arrested development.
So I’ve come back to a new season, and I know I’ll embrace it. But right now?
Right now there’s way too much hot sauce in the fridge…..
So what are your “Too much hot sauce in the fridge” moments? The moments when you realized that you were entering a new season, yet reminders of the old were present all around you?