Sunday, May 8, 2011

This one's for the moms...

This week I ran a lot of errands as I prepared for Adam's birthday and birthday party and did my first big grocery shopping trip in the longest time (really, probably a month or more; I just keep asking Adam to pick things up while he's out).  On Friday I took Katie, Max and Lily with me to Kinko's, Staples, and Walmart while Isaiah was at school so I could finish up our errands for the week.  I'm not sure what part of me thought I could be successful doing so many errands with so many children, but I guess I was just desperate to finish picking up Adam's gifts and the food for the barbecue.  We made our first two stops, and I thought it wise to break up the shopping and feed the kids by taking them to McDonald's, so at least they burned off some energy before we hit Walmart, not that it really seemed to help.  I needed to get a bunch of things, so there was no convincing the kids to ride in a regular cart because, as you may know, three children fill up a shopping cart all by themselves.  So they had a rare treat of riding on the gray carts with the seats, and I had the treat of bending in half in order to push the dang heavy thing.  The other shoppers had the awesome treat of either jumping out of my way when they saw me coming, or being run over as I struggled to steer the monster cart with the car seat snapped on top (which, if you're shorter than an Amazon, is impossible to see over, especially when you're bent over pushing). 

Of course, the cart that was available had mostly broken seat belts, so Max took the opportunity to jump off the cart whenever it took his fancy.  He was running out into main aisles causing huge traffic jams, literally, of people screeching to a stop and crashing into each other.  When he was angry at me for throwing him back into the cart, he ran full tilt down the greeting card aisle, snatching fistfuls of cards and chucking them, fluttering, back into a main aisle causing another, you guessed it, shopping cart traffic jam.  During all the commotion Katie was being her usual angel self and entertaining Lily, thank heaven. 

We got about 10 minutes into our Walmart shopping before we got to the school supplies and the markers I'd been promising Katie all week.  See, she had to make a card for Dad for his birthday, and it had to be with markers, and we had no markers because Max+markers=giant messes many times a day.  Once she had her markers, she was done playing with Lily and began singing to and about the miracle that was color in a little stick.  And Max started pulling things off the shelves again, and Lily, bored now in her car seat, started crying, so I rigged up a buckle for the boy and strapped the baby to me in the sling. 

I was now struggling to push the cart with a baby strapped to my hip and Max and Katie screaming at each other: "Markers, MINE markers!"  "Stop putting your feet on me!  You're going to rip the box! Maaaaaax!"  And I started singing, desperately, "If you're happy and you know it (huff, puff), clap your hands!  (huff, puff)  If you're happy and you know it...."  And you know what?  Everybody was happy.  For a few more minutes.  Until Max wanted to get back out of the cart and started slamming freezer doors, and Katie got really tired and started crying about how nobody in the family even acts like they like her, and Lily started clawing at my shirt to nurse....  Well, you get the idea. 

My point in this story was something that happened while we were out on this horrible shopping trip that touched me profoundly.  It was such a little thing that the sweet mother who did it probably doesn't even remember it today, but I think I will always remember it.  Several times I ran into people with my cart or sent them running out of my way as I called out frantic apologies.  One time, I nearly ran down a lady with a girl about Katie's age in tow, and as I apologized profusely she said, "Oh, no!  Let me get out of your way."  She leaned over conspiratorially, "I've been there.  Don't worry, it gets better." 

See what I mean?  Such a little thing, but when I was relating it to Adam last night, I couldn't stop crying.  Motherhood is such a difficult journey sometimes, and it can feel so lonely.  So for all you mothers out there, struggling with your crying baby, naughty two-year old, and a monster shopping cart (or your diarrhea diapers, or your terrible teenager, or your potty mouthed little boy, or your husband that works long hours...), I'm going to share the secret: we're all struggling.  And we all have those moments of unbelievable joy, too.  We just need to throw out the life preserver to each other occasionally, even if it's just a little understanding comment to a stranger at the grocery store.


The Yoder's Four said...

Oh my.....this could have been one of my attempts at shopping with my kids! Mercy!! (Lately I've been fantasizing about life as an empty nester...horrible, I know!)

Mama D said...

This would be why I take extreme measures NOT to go shopping with kids any more than necessary.

That mother in the store is an angel. Wouldn't it be awesome if everyone could recognize we each struggle and offer this kind of support all the time?!

This is one of those things that deserves some "pay it forward" attention. Remember this, and someday be that angel mother for someone else. :)

Kurt and Shelli Barnum said...

Sounds like my shopping experiences too. A few shopping trips ago I nearly passed out (pregnancy does weird things to ones body), so I sat down on the floor in the middle of the freezer section. My little angles are running around like wild little men and people are looking my like I am a psycho. How great that you could end you experience with something positive to walk away with. I hope that I never forget what this phase of life is like so I can be that angel mother for someone else some day. Thanks for sharing.