There are two particular groups of people that were part of my daily life pre-pandemic and played a bigger role in my motherhood than I’m sure they realize, and whose presence in my life and that of my kids (especially my youngest) I’ve dearly missed over the last year — this Valentine’s Day column is for them!
I used to go to the grocery store three times a week, easily, not counting weekends. I have a few dear friends who work at the store and who have known most of the boys since they were in my belly. I’ve always enjoyed seeing them and catching up, and they’ve loved seeing how each of the boys has gotten bigger and then moved on to school, and new little guys were the ones accompanying me to the store.
When in the trenches of intense motherhood with lots of little ones, these trips to the store were bright spots — a chance to talk with friends who made me laugh, gave me advice, and oohed and aahed over my babies. Since last March, I’ve switched to doing my grocery shopping at night so I can go alone, and I go only once a week. I miss seeing our friends, and I miss that they haven’t been able to watch my youngest turn from a baby into a toddler.
Another group I keenly miss are the people who own and work at the Triangle Diner — the wonderful Diggins Family and their wonderful employees. For years, my mom and I met once a week at the diner for breakfast, and I always had a baby with me. The baby has changed through the years, of course — the baby comes with us until he goes to nursery school, and then it’s the next baby’s turn to have a morning out with Mom and Nannie each week (with some overlap between the new baby’s birth and big brother starting school). I love that the people we see at the diner have seen my kids grow up. They remembered each boy’s order without me having to tell them (usually chicken tenders or scrambled eggs, shoestring fries [no toast], sometimes with a fruit cup), and they’ve surprised my boys with special muffins with whipped cream and sprinkles on their birthdays. Beyond my weekly breakfast with Mom, they’ve also seen me bring my big boys on days they were home from school (those same boys they saw come in weekly when they were little), and they’ve celebrated with my husband when he brought the little guys in for breakfast when I was in the hospital after having another baby.
I hate not seeing these people that have been such a part of my life, and I especially hate that my youngest has mostly missed out on this — on seeing and being seen by the people who have marked the passing of time in my motherhood along with me. When the shutdown went into effect, the baby barely had hair, and he wasn’t walking or talking — now he has a full head of hair that I’ve already had to cut twice, and not only is he walking and talking, but he’ll be going to nursery school in the fall. At his age, huge changes happen every day!
I’ve seen people with their children in the grocery store, and I know the diner is open for business, so in theory I could bring my little guy to both places, but we just aren’t comfortable doing so yet. I hope that changes soon. Even though my new weekly grocery schedule has been better for our budget, so I’m likely to keep doing it after the pandemic is over, and even though Mom and I always scheduled our diner day for one of the days the preschooler was in school because it’s so much easier to enjoy a meal without wrangling a child of that age, I will absolutely make a point to stop in the store with my little guy to say hi to our friends, and we’ll absolutely resume our diner dates on days when nursery school is not in session, so my youngest and I can make up for some of what we’ve lost before he goes off to Kindergarten. (Hannaford and Triangle Diner employees, we miss you!)
Are there people you haven’t seen since the pandemic started that you miss? Perhaps take the opportunity on Valentine’s Day to send them some love! Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!