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?
13 thoughts on ““There’s too much hot-sauce in the Fridge!””
Marilyn as you write about your offspring leaving the nest, and how my siblings and I of course did the same, my mind wanders and ponders to the many people we left behind when we moved across the country so many times during our childhood. Friends with whom we lost touch…. what would our lives be like if we never left ???? (fill in the blank with about 5 cities). I also think of the many people I meet in my travels who for 3 or 4 generations all live in the same little town….. even some of my neighbours. It is hard for me to fathom how it must be to live close to one’s parents, siblings and all their families. Like with your family, it’s hard to get us all together in one place at one time. Yet our lives are rich with others…. and as we age, we appreciate those rare times we are able to gather together as a “familiy”. I’m sure my Mom still has the remnants we leave behind from our visits and treasures them as the memory of when we were last together. Now that Dad is with Jesus, his remnants are a comfort in the loneliness – even as the hot sauce is to you!! If only we could place a fermata on those together days and have time stand still for just a while as we cherish how it “used to be”.
Thank you so much! This whole seasons of life thing is a lot!!
I left hot sauce in Layyah at my parent’s place. They packed up that hot sauce and my brother’s hot sauce and brought it with them to Canada. Our hot sauce is still all over their house now. I left for college 24 years ago, Neil left 22 years ago. I repeatedly tell my mom it’s time to throw out the hot sauce… she still tears up! Somehow I think you never fully recover from this type of grief and change. And come to think of it…chili peppers in the eyes always makes me cry too!
This made me laugh so hard. Somehow I’m not surprised that Joan Allyn would get how I feel!! I don’t know that I’ll keep it for 24 years but for now – it’s staying!
Oh, my friend, I feel for and with you . . . memories of the days after each of our children left home can still bring quick tears to my eyes and a huge lump to my throat. I feel all of that for you today. All the joy as we had for their new adventures and faith and hope that they would be safe and continue to grow couldn’t fill the quiet spaces in our home or make it easier to see all the remnants of their presence. My grief in missing each of our kids is still legend in our old neighborhood (partly because our first to leave entered a college less than an hour away but my eyes leaked for weeks!). It wasn’t fun to feel that grief and live with it, but our kids now smile fondly about it, knowing they were so well loved.
I would love to talk to you neighbors Cathy!! I love the word ‘remnant’ and your use of it here – that’s it exactly. The remnants of their lives. I think alot about Mary pondering things in her heart…..I guess that’s what we do with the remnants – we ponder them, it’s too hard explaining yet it’s something most moms share.
Your Dad and I both remember the time we waved at your back in Heathrow Airport. You had just graduated from MCS, and you were going off to Scotland to visit friends all alone, then coming back to Heathrow to fly to Boston without us. This weekend Stan reminded us of how much faith we had (!! some probably said we were foolish!) when after his graduation we let him travel overland through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey to Europe with Paul, a fellow MCS graduate, and Stan’s younger brother Tom. Probably the greater faith was letting Tom go along. He was nearly 2 years younger. I remember we took them to the border crossing outside Peshawar, and waved them off – I don’t remember if they looked back, but I doubt if they did.
Yes, I remember those moments well, and coming home to the sudden silence and the empty spaces — but too many reminders. When you all used to leave for boarding, I learned to transform your rooms into extra guest rooms! It was the only I could keep from tears, by hiding the reminders.
Love you much!
Yes! I have a post started on that – it’s called “She didn’t look back” …. I think I will add this comment to the post! I remember too that when we came home you let us use the guest towels for a week…..
Yes! So glad you remember. I treated you like guests for that first week and fed you all your favorite foods. And you were all on your good behavior, acting like guests. Then the week was over, the guest towels were laundered and put back on the shelves, you all started fighting, and I suppose I yelled at you. You were all back home again and back to normal.
I have tears in my eyes. I love you and miss you :(
And I miss you! Come back and eat some Frank’s! xoxoox