“Who took your mother’s last tampon?”

"I'm not crazy--I'm just a little unwell."

No lie. My dad asked that question. I was in high school, standing in the kitchen with one, maybe two, of my sisters. I don’t remember exactly who stood with me, but I know I didn’t face that inquisition alone. I think my mom was upstairs. Probably rummaging through cabinets in search of a stray tampon. In fact, most of the details of that moment were washed away by my teenage horror, but I still remember that question. That most embarrassing question. And, I remember the silence that followed. Not peaceful, comforting silence, but the silence that comes only with absolute shock.

For obvious reasons, I hadn’t thought about that day in years, but a few weeks ago, the memory came flooding back. I was heading out to Costco (as usual!) and I wanted my ear buds so that I could listen to music while strolling the aisles of bulk food. In temporary replacement for her broken set, I had loaned mine to my younger daughter, A. When I asked for them back, she handed them over, with no reservation, but a simple, “Oh, and just so you know, one of the ear buds isn’t working anymore. I think a wire just broke or something. I’m sorry.”

Uh-huh…really… “Just broke.” I didn’t say anything–in that moment. However, I’m pretty sure I looked like a cartoon character with steam coming out of her ears. I took a deep breath. I thanked her for her honesty, told her she would need to buy me a new pair, and headed out the door. Without my music.

As I turned the key in the ignition, I flashed back to that afternoon when my dad asked about stolen tampons. I can imagine the rant he must have heard through the bathroom door when my mother discovered the empty tampon box. It probably sounded familiar, not unlike the rants about a borrowed brush, or pair of shoes, or hairspray, or blouse, or eyeliner, etc. With 6 daughters , I’m sure she owned very little that wasn’t “borrowed” –and not replaced–over the years. And to think, it all started with the borrowing of a little real estate in her body.

As I made my drive up the peaceful country road (which is the real reason I go to Costco so often) I thought ranted, aloud,  about the number of times I have gone in search of something that was borrowed and not replaced. There have been shoes, and lipsticks, and brushes, and iPods, and ear buds,and favorite pens. (Really, really bugs me when they take my favorite pens! My husband may never ask, “Who took your mother’s last tampon?” but he’ll send in the hounds to stop my rant about a pen.) I thought about my mother and the infinite patience she demonstrated when she couldn’t find ____________, or found it broken, or never found it at all. I thought about my daughters, who are so honest and take responsibility if they break something. I thought about tampons and broken ear buds. And, then I thought about transitions.

Life changes when a child moves from lipstick borrowed to play dress up to lipstick borrowed for a date. My girls and I are in a season of transition. As moms, sharing with our children begins on the day of conception.  As they grow, we demonstrate sharing by offering our last bite of dessert, our jewelry for dress up, or even our favorite pens. By the time children are teens, we are accustomed to sharing not only the best parts of ourselves, but most of what we own as well. “Mom, can I borrow….the car, this necklace, or that CD?” More than once, I have walked into the kitchen and found a favorite pan burned or opened an empty gum package that was returned to my purse after my last piece was taken. Of course, teens mean no harm. Most days, they’re simply trying to survive the “Twilight Zone”–the untethered years between childhood and adulthood–with the aid of an iPod and borrowed ear buds. But, the promise of knowing my brush will still be on my make-up table when I need it is starting to make those empty-nest years look mighty tempting.

As I made my way past the familiar horses grazing in the field, I ended my rant. I would survive my time at Costco, sans  music, as I had many a time before when I couldn’t find my iPod. “Just a season,” I reminded myself, “and you’re gonna miss these years when they’re gone.” I smiled. I will miss these years.

Turning into the parking lot, the “Music Gods” sent the perfect period to my rant-filled drive. Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell” began to play on the radio. I pulled into a parking space and sang along–loudly. Someday, I will be “how I used to be”, before children and broken ear buds. But for now, I’ll just roll with the burned pans, and borrowed shoes, and empty gum packages–all reminders of the two fabulous girls that call me “Mom.”

Oh, and just for the record, I didn’t steal my mom’s last tampon. That time.

What little things remind you that “you’re not crazy” — you’re a mom?

©2011 Mary Lanzavecchia/Transitioning Mom

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13 thoughts on ““Who took your mother’s last tampon?””

  1. I cleaned my daughters room when she left for college and I was surprised by some of the things I found. She borrowed more than I was aware of. Usually she asked but I travel a bit and she knew my closet was not off limits. Nice to have my things back but I would rather have her.

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    1. I can so relate! While my daughter was out of the country, I cleaned her room, in part to search for my missing items. Amazing how many things I reclaimed, but I was happiest when I got to reclaim her at the airport.

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  2. I love, love, love so much that “Unwell” was the song that picked you up as you pulled in to the parking lot. I don’t hear that song much anymore, but every time I do, I rejoice. It makes me think of my mom, but in a sweet way somehow–like that it prompts me to remember everything she was before she was ill, and that was a beautiful thing. 🙂

    No answer to your question, though!

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    1. Music hold a HUGE part of my heart and memories. It takes only a few notes of a familiar song to take me back to the specific place in time and conjure the memories with it. I think it is so fabulous that you can hear “Unwell” and think of your mom “in a sweet way” and that you think of her “how she used to be.”

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  3. Just last night, I was storming through the living room looking for my iPhone charger. I’m pretty sure my teenage daughter borrowed it for her iPod Touch when she couldn’t find her own charger. Oh, and this reminds me – one of my favorite black tank tops ended up in her stack of laundry weeks ago & she has worn it and washed it like 3 times & I still haven’t gotten it back! Time to go re-claim it! 🙂

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    1. Thanks for joining the journey and for commenting, Graceland Jenn!
      So, did you get your things back? Or, should I start with–were you able to find them? At least that’s how it works here. 🙂

      Glad you’re here!

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  4. I can’t help the mystery of who took your mom’s last “item”.. but I am here to vehemently state that one side of my ear buds goes out all the time!!! I have only used mine a few times and no matter what the cost or style, it’s a definite defect!!! So don’t blame your poor daughter.. Rant at the manufacturer.. Call China 🙂 Great blog

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    1. You crack me up! Though the ear buds I buy are far from the top of the line, we have a rule in out house, “you borrow it, you break it, you replace it.” Of course there are exceptions, but she knew this one was hers and replaced them with a kind spirit. Oh, and there are plenty of times China is included in my rants. 😉 Thanks for jumping into the conversation!

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  5. Oh my land Mary! I JUST had this very conversation with my sister this past THANKSgiving weekend. We were laughing at how most of what we own is not ours anymore. However, I was rejoicing that FINALLY all my girls have bigger feet than me and can no longer wear my shoes. It’s the little things is it not?
    I am enjoying this season however and look forward to the day, Lord willing, when one of my girls might wear my wedding dress. lol Blessings on your day my friend. ~ Sherri

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    1. My kids have little feet just like me, so I gotta say, it’s not always the little things. LOL! Enjoy the season–it will pass before you know it and they’ll soon be wearing your special dress. Blessings back to you, my friend!

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    2. Mary just reposted this, and since I was here, I had to read the comments. Yours made me laugh out loud, because I had just replied to Mary: I was happy last year when BoyGenius’ feet kept growing (age 13) — it meant I would get my shoes back from his locker, he would stop borrowing my favourites, I could take my new ones out of hiding, and I inherited all the nearly-new Converse he rapidly outgrew.

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  6. This made me laugh . . . and cry. Having our daughter return home from college for Thanksgiving opened up this can of worms for me . . . she “borrowed” my iPod charger/radio for the weekend and failed to return it before she left . . . she insisted on going out at 12 a.m. for Black Friday shopping (to which we responded absolutely not which left a trail of tension for the remainder of the weekend). Ahh . . . transitions. They are painful but necessary. Sometimes, OK, MOST of the time, I definitely feel crazy. But it comes with the territory.

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    1. 😦 Sorry about the iPod charger/radio, but even more so about the tension during her weekend home. I know you were looking forward to a relaxed weekend all together.
      Yep, transitions can be a royal pain. And, yep, necessary–if we are ever going to reclaim all those treasures that have been borrowed over the years. Just know I’m walking along side you down the crazy path. 🙂

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