• jtbelangela

Animal Cracker Memories

I had a “moment” the other day . . . one of those times when you stand back and look at your life and go . . . where did all the time go? I was cruising along through a variety of chores - housecleaning and cooking as I zipped from room to room with the radio on. I went into my son’s room to empty out his trash can when on the corner of his desk was an empty box of animal crackers. This might not sound like an unusual occurrence, but it is. My son is 18 and on a recent trip to the supermarket I bought him the box of cookies as a lark because he loved them so much as a little boy. We shared a good laugh the morning I removed the box of cookies from my shopping bag, and the box sat on his desk for a few days probably until he got hungry during a late-night Xbox marathon.

I didn’t think anything of the sight of that empty box at the time and continued with my dusting and polishing. But as I prepared to place that empty cookie box in the recycling bin, something pulled at my heart in a big way. The breath caught in my chest as it occurred to me . . . I don’t need to buy animal crackers any more. Suddenly my head was swimming with realizations that were hard to face. I don’t need to help anyone tie their shoes or put their snowsuit on, and I no longer am in the market to buy Matchbox cars, comic books or Lego sets. My little boy who would spend hours on the living room rug with his fleet of toy trucks is little no more and about to leave home and head into the wide open, nerve-racking, grown-up world.

I stood there lost in thought wondering how it had been that I had arrived at this moment. Surely I must be caught in some kind of weird daydream. How could those months and years have passed with such accelerated speed? They did, but I have been lucky to have been more than just a casual observer to the progression of time. In the dizzying whirlwind of years of school, homework, activities and projects, there was also the pure wonder of watching this adorable, precocious little boy with chocolate-colored hair and a heart-melting smile turn into a man right in front of my eyes.

While the passage of time brought maturity and transformation, this mother is grateful that her son is the same funny and charming little boy he was all those years ago, except in a larger package who shaves. Everyone always says you need to savor the moments because they slip through your hands like grains of sand. While I assumed that I had done that, while I held the box in my hand I wasn’t so sure. I suppose all parents feel that time is not their friend, but usually there is a more milestone event that brings up such feelings of nostalgia. I assure you that I never expected to be so confronted by an empty cookie box!

You may not be surprised to learn that the box never made it into the recycling bin that day or any other in the weeks since. Instead it serves as a constant reminder for me that time waits for no one and whether we like it or not, days melt away like snowflakes in the palm of your hand. Let’s all remember to embrace those days . . . even the seemingly “ordinary” ones. Join me for an animal cracker?

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