Today I had the supreme privilege of shopping on my own, without my groupies. As I strolled quite leisurely through the aisles at my "reserved-for-when-the-girls-are-in-school" slow pace, I observed several other mothers who were toting their blessings around. Most of the kids were younger than mine are, and a few were not the "Happy Shoppers" that we've been overjoyed to see ours become.
The angry, red faces.
The fury at being strapped into a cart; stuck.
It brought back so many memories.
Anytime you have to put "Kids" and "Shopping List" into one sentence, it can become an almost insurmountable effort. Trying to get through a list is taxing alone, when you're not playing referee to the fighting and or squabbling siblings that you must bring with you.
Mine had a knack of being perfect angels right up until we'd hit the "bought air" of a store. The doors would open and "whoosh", my sweet, happy mannered little
Dan-clones would turn into feral creatures, itching to unleash a reign of terror. It would happen so instantaneously that I'd almost look around to see if I could catch a glimpse of their formerly happy selves high tailing out to the parking lot.
And there I'd be, alone with Them. (Not the nice 'Them' that so lovingly and cooperatively went into the stroller and sang as I pushed them into the store; no, it was now the 'Other Them' who snarled and whined and hit).
With a smile, I'd press on. I had shopping to do. A list to tackle. Pushing the stroller in front of me and pulling the cart behind, I'd alternate between referring to my list (crossing off found items with whatever crayon happened to be in my pocket at the time), and acting as "Mad Cap Entertainer" to my stroller-bound captives.
They'd cry in the Produce section, but never fear! "Listen to the celery sing a song, my children!" And just like that, a performance worthy of many awards spilled forth. (You really should have been there.)
They'd fight in the Dairy department; the Girl In Back snagging a handful of the Girl In Front's hair and giving a hard yank. But never fear, dear children! "Watch Mommy do a happy cheese dance!" (Let's just say, Michael Flatley ain't got nothin' on me.)
By the time we reached the household supply areas, both kids were through with mommy's antics and no amount of my particular brand of product-based entertaining could sustain them. As I perused the paper towels and plastic bags, I'd usually be alternating between holding one crying baby to another, still pulling the cart behind me, and now using my hip to shove the stroller forward a few inches at a time. "Shush, shush, shush, my Heart," I'd cluck, "look at these pretty toilet brushes". After plopping that now-quieted offspring back into her seat holding a pristine Johnny Mop, I'd pick up the still-crying other one and attempt to interest her in the fascinating world of toothpaste and toothbrushes.
What seemed like a short list nevertheless managed to take up quite a bit of time and energy, leaving me ragged, on edge, and (quite frankly), in need of chocolate. Ready to be done with our outing, I'd always manage to pick the most ill-chosen check out line possible. You know the one, it 'seems' to be moving along 'just fine'. Then all the sudden, you find it has stopped and you are not moving forward at all. And you are faced with the choice of "Should I Stay" or "Should I Switch Lanes", only you're so worn out and bedraggled by the escapades of your children as you 'shopped' for the few things you needed and now your brain will explode if you have to make one more choice. And it no longer matters at that point because every other line is backed up and nearly as long. No matter how you look at it, you're stuck.
You know. THAT line.
When I did finally manage to break free from the grasp of retail hell, I'd have two much displeased and unhappy children; the extra long wait in the check out line having undone all my calming, and angering them anew. I'd set out for the doors at a near run, anticipating, nay....almost feeling...that moment of escape that awaited me just through those big, beautiful doors.
Two crying girls calmed down, instantly shushed by the outside world around them. Two happy girls, sitting in car seats and pleasantly babbling as we made our way home.
One very tired, very worn out mama, looking very much forward to the next big event in our day: Nap Time.