It's not as though we've never had cloth placemats -- in fact, I have several sets in the dining room drawer. These new placemats, however, were purchased specifically to replace the succession of plastic kiddie placemats we had while my daughter was growing up. You know the ones I mean -- the wipeable variety, able to repel the inevitable stains from grape jelly, fruit punch and chocolate ice cream. Fun, festive and usually cheap, they were adorned with jack-o-lanterns, bunny rabbits and reindeer, marking the passage of each year in their own quiet, brightly colored, stain resistant way.
They haven't seen much action in the past few years, but I never quite got around to throwing them away. But lately, inspired as much by my daughter's calculated purge of her own bedroom as my own desire to do a little refreshing around the house, I decided that the time to move on to more adult table settings had arrived.
The passage of time is a funny thing. We don't really notice it while it's happening, unless it suddenly seems to move much too slowly or much too quickly. Instead, we suddenly notice the small accumulation of changes over time. Arms long enough to reach the top shelf. Legs long enough to reach the gas pedal. Diploma signifying the end of an era.
This week, the little girl who helped me pick out pumpkin placemats leaves for London. I'm excited for her, but, as a mother, I can't quite get over the notion that she'll be so far out of reach. No matter how long my arms are, I can't reach "across the pond" to give her a hug if she needs one -- or if I do. I've just barely gotten used to seeing her sleeping in "her own" bed again, and it's already time for her to take off on a new adventure. The house will be quiet once again -- perhaps too quiet -- for a little while, yet
I will be counting down the days until she returns.
So, while she's here, I'll do the mom things. Call the bank. Make sure her suitcase is up to the challenge. Cook her pancakes.
And maybe, when I slide the new placemats into the dining room drawer, I'll leave one plastic placemat there to keep them company.