I have this “thing” for Best Before tags … You know, those little yellow, red, green, white or blue plastic tags stamped with a best before date … which apparently are colour coded based on the day the bread is baked. I saved an entire box of them during my early childhood years. Milk bags have a white tag, and I had lots of those, too. I took my stash in to school share with the class for a project, and my Grade One teacher returned them at the end of the year. My collection was that impressive.
“It must have taken a long time to collect all these!” she said while standing at our front door. I was tongue-tied just to have my teacher at my house. I remember her as being one of the best, but I thought that about almost all of my teachers. Grade Nine French … not so much. But I have memorable stories from that class, as well.
My fascination with best before dates restarted in January 1998 when I was hugely pregnant with my son. While grocery shopping, I grabbed a bag of milk – you need to be Canadian to understand – and checked the expiry date. The Best Before Date was beyond my Due Date. It was like playing Life Bingo in Aisle 6.
I would be a Mother before this milk went bad.
Pregnancy hormones gathered into a fully involved fire. That one spark of a thought and WHAM! … my whole life burned uncontrollably around me. Men, this is what it is like to have raging hormones. One minute you are feeling fine, just trying to keep your cart out of everyone’s way and then BAM! The next minute you are sliding down the rabbit hole of Complete Parenthood Failure. Quite the scene.
I was overwhelmed with worry that this tiny life would be entirely dependent on me. He (and I knew Matt was a male from the moment he was conceived) was my child. While I had gone to school, worked and managed to adult quite proficiently, nothing prepared me for the weight of responsibility that arrived with this baby.
What the hell did I know about raising a new life? I couldn’t even take care of milk before it spoiled.
I burst into tears right there in the dairy section of our grocery store. I’m not sure if I had the floor to myself … or if people gave me a veeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyy wide birth. It was one of those ugly cries which you just can’t hide. I hiccuped and wiped my nose with a tissue before pulling myself together and placing the offending milk in my cart.
Ever since, I notice the dates on bread and milk like they were astrologers.
“Shit … that last loaf I bought was the LAST loaf I bought with David*.”
“OMG by the time this bread goes bad, we will have said our final goodbye to Mom.”
“Look at that … the cream expires on Matthew’s 21st birthday!”
It’s kinda weird … but my Mom was pretty savant with dates … so I assume my best before quirk came from her.
And no … I can’t eat anything past its expiry date. If I even “think” it is going bad, I will toss it. Yuck.
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