Friday afternoon, Chet and I waited at the bus stop for his brother to come from school. We had our grocery bags in hand and were ready to head to our local Whole Foods. As we walked through the front doors of the grocery store, Cole and I found our rhythm. Chet was along for the ride on my hip. Cole instantly started playing our veggie game. I rambled off ingredients that we needed. He selected and bagged. This is our system. It has always been this way.
When Cole was 17 months old, I became a single mom. His dad was deployed for a year. My family lived a state away. It was me and him all day every day. Chet is just shy of 17 months.
This weekend, I lived the life of a single mom while my husband worked long hours. Walking through the produce section with my two boys by myself brought back those feelings. I had a strategy for surviving everything when it was just me and Cole. We had a map of the grocery store that we created. He would guide me to each section. He was in charge of produce. When he was at his youngest, we started with colors. I need green vegetables. I need red vegetables. As he grew, I needed specific vegetables: broccoli, green beans, a cucumber. Then we added counting into the mix. Find mom 2 green peppers. These memories I hold closely to my heart. Cole and I survived that period of growth.
Cole quickly filled our shopping cart with everything we needed for dinner Friday night. As he was selecting peppers in the color of his choice, I realized just how far we have come together as mom and son. It’s been over 7 years since we learned to live on our own. Our family has doubled in size. He now likes to observe the process of chopping and combining the veggies for a salad. His favorite task is to take the vegetable scraps and spread them in the front bushes. It’s a treat for his favorite animals, the neighborhood raccoons. Soon he will be ready to prepare the salad himself. And one day, he will make a salad in his own kitchen and grocery shop with his own family.
Before I know it, I will be grocery shopping on my own without children to feed. I won’t have small hands helping me pick out the perfect corn on the cob. Next time I’m at the grocery store, I may linger in the produce section a little longer. I may add a few extra veggies to our cart.