I may have gone overboard. Just a wee bit. At least Mark thinks so.
We have just installed Noah in his first apartment in Knoxville, where he is a rising junior at the University of Tennessee. I am asked to perform what may be my last motherly duty for awhile. While he arranges his new apartment, I go grocery shopping for him. Here’s how it went.
We start out in produce. He’ll need some lemons and garlic and sweet peppers and mushrooms. Oh, and some potatoes. Maybe some broccoli? Yes, he loves broccoli roasted with the gallon of olive oil I have already bought him from Costco (that was a $200 trip, but he has enough olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning to last him through graduation). I am starting to get agitated. What if I don’t get him enough food? How will he survive without his meal plan?
Meat. Hamburger, chicken breasts, pork chops, bacon and Lil’ Smokies. The boy loves his Lil’ Smokies. This is supposed to last him a week. Did I mention he eats 10 meals a day?
Rice-A-Roni (3 boxes), Stovetop Stuffing (2 boxes), Ro-Tel diced tomatoes, Ramen and cream of mushroom soup. Sandwich stuff. Ham and cheese, bread (2 kinds). Milk. Growing boy needs milk. Butter (2 pounds – can’t have enough butter). Eggs. Sister Schubert yeast rolls. I am now out of control. I am trying to stuff everything in the grocery store into my buggy.
I reluctantly head to the check-out. The clerk wants to engage me in conversation. This happens quite often in the South, but I am distraught at watching my meager contributions to Noah’s well-being slowly rolling down the conveyor belt. “Well, my brother just got back from six months at a camp for troubled youth. You just never know what he’s going to do. We’ve called the DCS and put them on notice. ” Too much information. I don’t even know you. Just check us out.
We head back to Noah’s new apartment. The trunk is completely full. The rear end of the car sags under the weight. And a miracle has occurred. My once-slovenly son has beautifully arranged his kitchen, albeit a kitchen the size of a broom closet. The glassware is arranged in a cabinet sorted by type and size. The dish towels are neatly folded in a drawer. He is calmly brewing his own tea and has invited a guest for supper.
It’s time to leave. I hate that part. I hug him hard. I am running out of things to do for him. It used to be so easy. Gluing puffy balls on a Santa cap for Funny Hat Day in elementary school. Disney World. That was a good trip. Running him around the lake in the back of our boat on a giant inflatable, watching his skinny legs flap up and down on the water. And now I’m reduced to a package of pork chops and a couple cans of soup. I’ll get over this. I always do. But nobody told me letting go would be so hard.