Back in April of 2007, I wrote this description of what it was like to go shopping with my children. At the time, I was in the thick of some strenuous mommyhood years – my oldest was nearly-9 and the baby was just one-and-a-half. When I think back to those years of sleep deprivation and multiple little ones in diapers at the same time and the energy of toddler and preschool boys and homeschooling the girls and just all of the sweet, crazy, blurry chaos — well, first, I feel tired. Really tired. And then I think I probably deserve some sort of medal around my neck for surviving it all. The medal, the bouquet, my very own anthem played while everyone stands for a moment of silence — all of it.
Anyway, this is a glimpse into what it was like to go to WalMart back when my kiddos were smaller. And if you are in WalMart or Target, and you happen upon a mom like this on aisle 5, please be kind to her. And if you are a mom of little ones and this is what every trip to the store is like, I promise you — it goes by quickly. It doesn’t feel like it now, but it really does go by in the blink of an eye!
Tonight I took my four older children to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things after a soccer game. The boys (ages 4 1/2 and 6-tomorrow) were supposed to ride in those cool seats added to the cart. You know those extra-long carts I’m talking about? Well, my boys don’t seem nearly as impressed with them as I am. Actually, my boys think it’s great fun to climb on the seats, perch on the edge, and jump off the cart while I’m pushing it down an aisle. Not that I allow them to behave that way. But they enjoy the challenge without concern for the actual rules.
While the boys are climbing around the seats and I’m race-walking through the aisles so we can get home before 8:00, my older daughter, ThingOne, (nearly-9) is loudly calling out the items on the list she made for me in the car. And pointing out other interesting things she notices and thinks we ought to purchase. And meticulously naming all the differences between our Wal-Mart and Grandmama’s Wal-Mart. And telling me that her brothers aren’t staying fastened in the seat. As if I don’t see them scaling the front of the cart. As if I’m not already whispering through gritted teeth, “I am sooooo telling your father about this when we get home.”
And while ThingThree is jumping over the side of the cart to peer at the ready-to-bake brownies that ThingOne is announcing would be just perfect for his birthday, (nevermind that I made brownies today and am baking the cake he wants tomorrow) ThingFour, my 4 year-old, is fastening himself into his brother’s seat with an evil laugh.
All the while, little 7 year-old ThingTwo is compulsively twirling around in circles. “It’s no fun when twirling in circles is one of my tics.” She shouts mid-twirl.
ThingTwo doesn’t appreciate my cheerful response. “I don’t even know how to turn a cartwheel!” She grumps. Then she goes back to twirling perfect little circles down the aisle, staying right beside the cart.
Moments later, as we head toward the bread aisle, ThingTwo calls out as she spins around, “People are going to think I’m ca-raaaazy spinning in circles like this.” Her long hair flowing out in a wild static-y arc as we pass the cereal.
“Or maybe they’ll just think you’re a cute little girl with a lot of energy.” I laugh as I nudge ThingFour back into his place and block ThingThree’s exit from the cart with my right knee.
As we pass the bakery, my cell phone rings, ThingTwo spins, ThingFour tries to climb out of the cart to see the freezer pops ThingOne holds up to show everyone within shouting distance, and ThingThree begins to yell, “I don’t want a cake after all. Look. At. THAT!” I don’t even pay attention to what dessert has attracted his attention. I gently push him back into the cart, answer my cell phone, hold my arm up to block ThingFour from climbing over the edge, shake my head at ThingOne’s insistance that we buy those freezer pops, and try to pretend I don’t see that older gentleman glaring at me as if I’m the worst mother he’s seen all year.
As it turned out, I didn’t even get a couple things on the list because I had to get us out of that store as quickly as possible. We did manage to get through the check-out aisle without anyone grabbing (and by “grabbing” I mean “shoplifting”) candy or gum and without any little readers sounding out the words on a tabloid magazine. Whew! Minor consolation to the shopping trip from you-know-where.
Now I know why I usually do my shopping late at night. Alone. After the children are in bed.