When I take my kids grocery shopping, it is inevitable that one, or all of them, will experience some kind of meltdown when I am in the very middle of the store at the furthest possible point from 1) escaping or 2) checking out.
I try to prevent this, of course, with doing the typical responsible mother things, like making sure they are fed before we go, freshly changed and/or toileted, and hitting that all-important time before naps. I am also not above a good old-fashioned bribe. I know of a remarkable mother who has five children and bribes her children with fruit at the end of grocery shopping, but that ship has long sailed at this house. Candy it is.
But even with the candy bribe and the war-like planning and preparation that goes into my grocery shopping, I have seen my share of public tantrums and meltdowns.
I once discussed a meltdown that my kids had thrown at a store whilst I was still pregnant with Jacob with a nurse I worked with; it was one of those full-on meltdowns that resulted in me hanging a screaming Mya over the handles of the cart and sort of pinning her in with my body as I booked it to car as fast I could. I chuckled a little as I told the story, but the nurse just frowned at me.
“When my kids were little,” she said with a huff, “I wouldn’t let them act like that. I would push them in one cart and my food in another. I hate when people’s kids act out like that the store.”
I will admit that the grocery-store meltdown is one of the most embarrassing things that can happen. Especially as a young mom, and especially as a young pregnant mom with two other kids spilling out of your cart, you worry a tad bit about what other people think of your mothering skills. My stress level is usually at an all-time high as I plow through the store at a million miles an hour. Seriously, I work up a sweat when I’m shopping–it’s practically an aerobic exercise. My goal is usually to get in and get out as fast as humanly possible before someone 1) poops 2) starts crying uncontrollably 3) poops.
Which is why I was so darn proud of myself yesterday, when I took it upon myself to take all three children to the store by myself on a Sunday afternoon, which we all know is the worst time of all for grocery shopping.
41 minutes and $4 under budget later, I emerged with a sweaty back, a full week’s of groceries and toiletries, two angelic daughters looking forward to brownies after dinner, and one baby, who as if on cue, had started screaming the instant I wheeled out of the checkout lane.
I loaded the groceries up, returned my cart, buckled 10,000 car seat buckles, and updated my Facebook status, all while sailing on an incredible adrenaline -filled high. Yes! I had done it! Supermom!
And then, suddenly, just as quickly as my high had emerged, the smile fell from my face because I realized…
I was celebrating for picking up groceries.
I was updating my Facebook status because I was justsopumped for what? Toilet paper and cereal? Who in their right mind gets excited about grocery shopping?
In a rush, I realized just how sad my life had become. The highlight of my week was now a vigorous, heart-pumping rat race through the local grocery mart, where I am able to maneuver my cart full of three kids so skillfully because I have, incredibly, memorized where each and every item in the store is. Grandma on her scooter blocking the way to my beans? Not a problem, I’ll just re-route through the cereal aisle and pick up those granola bars that were on sale. Score!
But does that mean I won’t celebrate and reward myself with delicious double-chocolate brownies after dinner?
Not a chance.