As I pushed my wobbling cart through the sliding doors of Walmart yesterday, the heavens opened and a phosphorescent glow pulsated from the display that stood to greet me…
YES!!!! The caramel apples have arrived! “Happy Apples” indeed! As you can see, I was very quick to snap up a package and place them directly in the front seat of my basket, a place reserved only for the most precious items: your baby, your purse, and your Happy Apples.
I love caramel apples. I crave the combination of sweet, salty, and tart, and how the juicy crispness of the apple mixes in my mouth with the smooth, sticky caramel and tiny crunch of the peanuts. From the moment they populate the seasonal display at the grocery store to the depressing day they disappear from the produce section, I will add a package of Happy Apples to my cart almost every week. And I ALWAYS buy the four pack, never the singles…usually with the intention that I will share them with the kids. But usually I end up hiding them in the back of the refrigerator and hoarding them all for myself. At the very least, I snag two of the four: one for Grace, one for Michael, two for Mommy. None for Daddy. He knows better than to get between this woman and her Happy Apples.
But even more than eating them, I love caramel apples because of what their arrival signals: the best part of the year. It whispers to me that autumn is on the heels of summer, meaning jeans and sweaters, all things pumpkin, and a lot more evenings of eating dinner on the deck enjoying beautiful weather. And Halloween. I am addicted to Halloween. Let us also not forget that the advent of caramel apples also means the advent of school. Ah, school. Otherwise known as a stay-at-home mom’s vacation.
Don’t get me wrong; I really do love having my kids home for the summer. And we had a good one this year full of relatively outburst-free outings, a lot of pool visits, and “hey let’s go do this today,” just because we could. Sending Grace and Michael back to school is always tinged with some sadness for me because, more than any other time, it hits me square in the face how quickly my kids are growing. How all my attempts to hold onto their childhoods are in vain, and soon they will be packing up their cars to move to their own apartments instead of packing up their backpacks to head off to just another day of school.
So yesterday was the perfect day for the Happy Apples to arrive, because yesterday was Michael’s first day of school. Grace started last week, and yesterday marked the day where I dropped off both kids and then had the nagging feeling that I was forgetting something. And this could very well be Michael’s last year of preschool (provided we don’t hold him back due to his late birthday), so yesterday also quite possibly marked the beginning of the end of an era in my parenting life. Whoa. I just got a little lump in my throat even typing that. But there the Happy Apples were…to make it all better…
…and to remind me that now that school is back in session, I have an ample amount of kid-free time to devour the entire four-pack without them even knowing.