Most moms dream of a day like I’m having today. I’m on vacation, absolutely no obligations besides catching my flight home this evening. I slept in and woke without an alarm. I didn’t rush out of the motel room, instead I moved at my own pace. I downed several cups of coffee before I even got out of bed, slid into comfortable clothes, and headed out for the day in Salt Lake City.
Attempting to avoid the rain, I found refuge in a bookstore. I browsed every stack with pleasure, not feeling like I needed to be anywhere or pick up anyone. Hours ticked by, the rain poured outside, and then it happened. That moment that knocked me out of my reverie, sent the tears to my eyes, and forced me to scramble for cover.
The children’s section.
When my babies were younger, we spent hours in bookstores. I found the brightly lit space lined with title after title so enticing, and so full of possibilities for their future. Weekly we would park the stroller to the side, bags of Goldfish crackers in hand; I loved the chance to snuggle up with them, choose a new book to look at, and hope their imaginations sparked and they would grow to love the comfort of books as much as I had.
My shelves at home still retain the evidence of our visits; I cannot bear to part with the Puppy Place, The Magic Treehouse, The Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew and the escapades of Rick Riordan. To me, it never mattered what they read, simply that they were reading. When interest waned, I lovingly lined another space with their cherished titles, hanging on to the hope that someday they would pick one up again, call to me, and settle in for hours of dreams of their futures.
Those bookstores have closed now, and I must admit, my teens and I rarely spend time searching for dreams together amidst the stacks anymore. Sports, social lives and academics have replaced the stroller and sippy cups, and I find myself today, alone with my memories.
My children are growing up and away, spending their days in the snowrather than safely snuggling against their mother. College visits have replaced our family vacations, and the piercing reality of the end of our life under the same roof attacks in the most unexpected moments.
Like the rainy day I’m alone in the bookstore.
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