My Kid's Lives: Wrapped Up In memories Set In Target and Starbucks
by Julie Willis
Jun 28, 2022
Today in the Target parking lot, I saw a pregnant woman with a toddler unloading shopping bags into the back of her van. I offered to take her cart back for her because, you know, I remember.

Then I got into my Honda Civic and cried the quiet tears of a mom whose children are half grown.  A mom whose nine year old recently said, with complete sincerity, like she was just observing a well-known fact, “Mom, you are a fun killer. You suck the fun out of everything.”  While we were on vacation. A vacation that I planned.

Because I would not let her order her own latte at Starbucks.

“I am not the fun sucker. I am the fun maker!” She giggled, and we poured a bit of latte into a cup for her to taste.

Before kids, I would eye those moms with kids in Starbucks and think, “When I’m a mom, I will not take my kids to Starbucks.”

And yet, there we were.I also had said no cell phones until they were adults.

Samantha only made it to age ten before I gave in on the no cell phone rule.  And now every time Ashley has to write a persuasive essay, it is about why she should get a cell phone, too. (That or another puppy. Because, you know, one puppy running around out of control is not enough.)

Well, after I took that mom’s cart back to the cart return area, I sat in my car. It was quite hot.  I looked in my drink holder for the insulated tumbler of ice water I always carry.  It was not there.  I was frantic.  I did not have enough time to go home before I had to pick Samantha up from school.  I was hot. And feeling sorry for myself.

And I realize now that what I did next was not my smartest move. But I could not think straight between the Bakersfield heat and my nostalgia for the days when 43 was my then-four-year old’s favorite number because that’s how old I was then. (I guess 43-year old me was fun. Forty-seven year old me… not so much.)

I went into Starbucks.  I asked for a venti water. Did you know they don’t make those? I was told, “Waters are always grande.” I had to look down to keep the tears from spilling out of my eyes. Seriously? You can’t give me a venti water? Even if I pay for it?

“OK?” She asked as if I had a choice.

“I guess,” I answered, lamely.

I was about to ask for two grande waters, but I couldn’t choke out the words.  Instead, I waited for thirteen minutes (not that I timed it, but… yeah, I timed it) as the manager chatted with the baristas in the nearly empty store. By the time I got that water to the car, the ice had melted.

Enough feeling sorry for myself, already. It was just water. I decided I had better seize the day because as fast as my kids went from the toddlers who shopped at Target with me on a weekday morning to the school kids they were now… they would go from school kids to adults. And I did not want to be the fun killer for one more day.  I would buy the lattes. OK, maybe not that. But I could at least go swimming in the pool with my kids rather than sit in the shade and read a book.

This is the new me. The non-fun-killer mom.

I am a work in progress. 

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