A Peek Inside of an Empty Nester’s Grocery Basket


Okay, so there are some Weight Watcher items–well, only soups and candy (next time you’ll buy more)– a lonely bottle of hydrating shampoo, a box of moisturizing razor cartridges, some organic zucchini, low-sodium V-8, Lite English muffins and detergent.  How boring is that?  (Well, at least there’s no wrinkle cream, prune juice and Geritol).  But couldn’t you spice it up a little more?   You feel downright pitiful, and sorry for yourself.  Can’t you drum up more than this?  Well, truth be told, there’s no real meat in this basket, because, after 23 years of going from spooning baby food to cooking dinner–tonight you are picking up take-out.  Fish tacos from the local Mexican restaurant, complete with (non-Weight Watcher) chips.  It’s a new era of take-out, and count yourself in.  Granted, your husband is out of town, which makes the nest even emptier.

At first, you were jubilant.  Grocery shopping was suddenly a no brainer–there was hardly a list at all, and it took seconds to take one bag into the house, unpack and store.  Speaking of lists, you’ve definitely downgraded.  You used to take a pad into the market, then a big post-it, now you don’t even need that.  You have down-sized to baskets, too.  Where is the big old cart you used for 23 years?  The one you first strapped your baby girl into, back in 1987?  You’d  fasten her into a cute gingham carrier so she could sit in the front seat.  Her little blonde head would bob around as you strolled down the aisles, and she’d point and try to name all of the colorful items.  There were no Sponge Bob gummies back then, but she loved a juice she called, “Purple”–a Mott’s special mix of apple and grape.

Then in 1993, your son loved to push the kiddie that they started to stash.  Your son has always been into machines and the workings of things.   He was always a careful and expert cart driver.   (Some of the less expert steerers nipped the heels of folks as they caromed down the aisles).  You so wish they’d had the carts that are now retrofitted to looks like trucks and SUV’s–he would have loved those.  It’s a whole new world.

But now, you look down into your tiny basket and want to downright weep.  The basket looks so empty, you are almost embarrassed to display it on the check-out counter in front of the cashier.  Isn’t there more stuff you could stick in?  Where are the steaks, tenderloins, packs of chicken breasts and shrimp, turkey dogs, sliced deli turkey and cheeses, organic bacon (your son would eat a pound per week), boxes of frozen pizza and waffles, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, rice, brownie mixes, cookies, Wheat Thins, Goldfish, Baked Chips, corn chips, salsa, loaves of bread, hot dog buns, condiments (lots of ketchup and Sticky Fingers sauce), gallons of milk, yogurts, jugs of orange juice (no-pulp) lettuce heads, spinach bags, bunch of carrots, pound of green beans, apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, 12-pack of paper towels and toilet paper–much less the juice boxes, peanut butter, Cheerios, and fruit gummies of long ago?

Instead of a horn o’ plenty, you feel as if you are just one empty horn.  No cornucopia of delights in that tiny plastic basket.  You are already anxious for Thanksgiving, and it’s only August.  There are several places that would understand–Cracker Barrel for example.  Last week, in August, they were not only set up for Halloween, but all lit up for Christmas.  Love it.  You want your children to come home;  you want the holidays to come.  Sometimes you want life to be like it used to be.

The folks at Kroger don’t even look twice, and out you go.  (Maybe you can crook the cute little basket on your elbow next time and try to look European).  Free and clear.  Free to go pick up your fish tacos, and have no clean up.  Done.  Enjoy.  You will get used to life the way it is now, one grocery store run at a time.

© ReelingintheYears, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given toReelingintheYears with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About reelingintheyears.wordpress.com

A freelance writer who revels in the 1970's...and today. Thoughts on being a baby baby boomer and empty nester. Welcome to the Saturday evening porch.
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4 Responses to A Peek Inside of an Empty Nester’s Grocery Basket

  1. Please forgive me. I am not weeping. I am gleeful, joyful, laughing! I can’t wait to have a shopping list that fits on a post-it. Not a 3″ x 3″ – a 1″ x 2″.

    Sure, I’ll miss my youngest (a college freshman :45 minutes away from home as of this Friday) and my oldest (a college senior 10 hours from home). I love them dearly. But I will love my freedom dearly, too!

    I remember those days in the grocery story – spending an extra $20 on junk food just for 10 whine-free minutes to think about the necessary essentials on my list, getting smashed in the heels by one or the other of my boys running me down after insisting on pushing the cart, having to leave the cart in the middle of the store when one of them announced that they had to go to the bathroom.

    I imagine a meal where I don’t have to prepare potatoes two ways because one wouldn’t eat them mashed and the other wouldn’t eat them baked. One liked his pasta sauce mixed in, the other liked it in a pile on top of spaghetti (“all covered with cheese” – one liked Parmesan, the other didn’t).

    Of course, their unique characteristics are part of what makes me love them so much. And what I’ll miss about them. Okay, I’m gonna go weep now. 😉

    Your posts are great!

  2. You’re welcome – I hope you enjoy the posts. Be sure to throw some chocolate into your basket at the grocery store next time. Chocolate goes great with reading and writing blogs! (Dark chocolate – because it’s “good” for you … an ounce a day!)

  3. mamanne says:

    Oh, this post made me sad! My daughter just turned 13, so I have a few years left… but she is my only, and I am already missing “the way things were”. I got a Hanna Anderson catalog in the mail today, and somehow felt grieved over the fact she will never dress like that again. I can’t even imagine how it will be when she leaves for college! Dang. (Your list – “orange juice(no pulp)” gave me a giggle tho – she has always insisted on that!

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