There are some events that occur so often that you hardly take notice. You find yourself on such autopilot that these events become second nature and eventually lose all meaning. As a singleton, you drudge through most of them in a catatonic state. This would include the art of grocery shopping. Must get butter, milk, pasta and wine. Check, check, check and check.
But once you become a mom, the art of shopping changes from a mundane activity to a full out Olympic sport.
As an Olympic athlete, one would have months, sometimes years, to study, train and focus all your energies towards this one moment that will go by so quickly, yet could possibly result in world wide recognition and gold medals for your display case. In this case, the grandiose of the situation is short lived, 3-5 days at most. When the milk is gone, you’re back to square one. There is a reason I call this event an ‘art’, not meant for the faint of heart.
Once in the parking lot of my chosen victim – sorry – retail establishment, there is a short briefing:
ME – “ok kids, we’re going in. There will be no screaming, running, kicking, grabbing, yelling, arguing, hiding, punching or foul play, understand? We’re going to run in, get what we need and then leave, ok?”
KIDS –“um, ok.” (Or for my 19-month-old son, the term of his acceptance would be a blank stare and an offer of a suck from his baba).
Yet, as soon as we walk in, all bets are off. The shiny, colorful boxes that are at my daughter’s eye-level immediately distract her; aisle after aisle of glamorous animation that promise great taste, multivitamins and FREE toy inside. Darn those cleaver marketers! At this age, she doesn’t even bother to ask my permission. After a quick grab and dump, it’s in the cart, whether I notice or not.
Which of course I don’t, because 2 minutes into this excursion, my son then decides to throw a temper tantrum, insisting I let him out of his grocery store cart bondage and set him free. Downdowndowndowndown!!! It’s at that moment I pick up the pace and warn my daughter that we need to hurry through this arduous task before my son has a complete mental breakdown that could result in nasty stares and possible eviction.
On occasion, to prolong the simple feeling of human contact, I have allowed my son to walk beside me or help me “push” the cart through the store. Usually, that feeling doesn’t last long, as the need to sprint down each aisle overcomes him and I’m the dork behind him pushing 20 pounds of groceries and screaming like a banshee to stopstopstopstopstop!
When the HECK did I become this crazy person?!
Regardless, once I capture the escapee and snap my daughter out of her retail coma, I desperately search for the checkout counter. It’s so close I can see it, almost taste it. I’m juuuust about there when I hear those magic words: “Mommy, I have to go pee”.
So now I have to sprint across the entire store with a screaming toddler, a cart full of groceries (some frozen) and an 8 year old who walks with a slight limp as she desperately tries to prevent soiling her britches.
After all necessary business is done, I announce that we are leaving the store and going home post-haste. Period. Once again, I can see the checkout counters in clear view. Suddenly I’m in the middle of a Spielberg movie: pull back, zoom in, like Brody watching the Shark attacking a victim for the first time. So close…and yet so far way.
It is only when I’m back in the car can I breath a sigh of relief. I’m not sure if I got 100% of what I needed, but what I have will due, at least for the next few days. It’s only a matter of time before this circus repeats. If I can’t laugh then I shall be hospitalized.
Ah, the joys of motherhood!