My best friend and I were talking on the phone one night about our kidlets and the topic of "The Store" came up. I don't know about other parts of the country, but in the south The Store refers to any number of places, including the grocery store, walmart, target, the nearest convenience store, dollar tree, dollar general, you name it. In our house The Store is usually walmart or bi-lo (alas, we moved last fall and do not have a target nearby anymore) and as far as my child knows, The Store is mainly for diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, and steak. Yes, my almost three year old has an obsession with wanting to eat steak every night. *Filet to be exact...I guess she ate enough of it in utero to develop a taste for it. <end rabbit trail>
So back to The Store, this is a place that I try to never go to without Drew if we have to bring children. There are a few reasons for this and the trip to town for one item yesterday is a good example. Here is a typical trip to the store without daddy:
After getting all of us ready, I lug the car seat filled with baby, **the black hole purse, and the toddler out to the car. Where I see that a family member put the baby's base in the wrong seat, so I am going to be eating the dashboard because I have confusingly long legs and am too lazy to switch the seats around. After finaggling my seat the best I can and sucking in my gut the whole way to The Store, we finally arrive at our destination and I swipe the 'new and expectant parents' space. Mwhat? I'm still new-ish! This is when it all started to go downhill. I had already given my normal little speech to the toddler about how she had to sit in the buggy because daddy wasn't there to chase her and I had to carry the baby and couldn't run, either. I get out of the car and figure out how to use the baby backpack (well, gut pack) and put the baby in. Poor little thing looks like a sad little growth dangling from my belly, totally not excited about the carrier. Then around to the other side to get the toddler out. The toddler seems okay with holding my hand in the parking lot and even open to the idea of the buggy until she actually sees the buggies. Suddenly I have a shrieking child trying to run off while I try to chase her down, poor little baby bouncing around and all. Finally manage to grab her fast enough to get her in the seat, after two different women with newborns looked at me like I MUST be a terrible mother, not being able to juggle just two little girls. One of them even said, "do you need help?"and it was not in that kind stranger way. It was the "would you like some help finding a daycare for your brat so I don't have to hear it" kind of way. Yeah, you just wait til your sweet, soft, sleeping little baby comes to life around 18 months and then we'll talk. All of this just to get a pound of ground beef to put in the chili we were having for supper. When Drew and I went to The Store last weekend I forgot to buy the beef but said "that's okay! I'll just take the girls and get the meat one day this week, no big deal. One item shouldn't be too bad." I regretted the idea the moment I finished my sentence. After putting the beef in the buggy I felt so absurd for going through all of the fuss and hassle just for one item, so I decided to buy two more items so I don't feel like a moron for buying just one thing on this trip. My mistake was thinking that yogurt would be a quick stop. Oh no, the toddler decides to point to every single flavor and as soon as I put it in the buggy she screams Nooooooooo! Tha otha one! Finally I give up and grab two random flavors and we head to the front to pay, toddler screaming all the way "not these ones!!!!" And of course, having to get the girls back into the car and get us home and into the house. Where I discovered that both of them had pooped at some point during the trip and were getting diaper rash (even though we were only gone for 30 minutes)...because they both inherited their father's sensitive skin. Geesh.
This was a relatively uneventful shopping trip, compared to normal (walmart). This is why, if you notice, you very rarely see any children between the ages of 1 and 4 at The Store. Every once in a while you might see it, but you'll notice the parents almost always look like they want to pull their hair out and might possibly pull yours too if you get too close. There's also the fact that it never fails that the moment you think you can get away with a skanky day (no time to shower or put on make up, just do the ponytail, ***comfy pants, and nearest clean shirt and deodorant, if you're lucky enough to remember), you see the last person in the world you want to see at that time. An ex, or an old classmate who is perfectly groomed and handling her brood of children like Mary freakin' Poppins, or a previous co-worker you never really liked but always wants to chit chat with you. Whyyy? All of the images of serene, happy mothers you see in magazines and on TV build childless women up for the non-existent life of constant bliss and order with their future children and then we find out what it's like for real. Messy, unnerving, stressful, rewarding, joyful, hilarious, awe-inspiring. Motherhood is the hardest thing I've ever done, but has definitely been the best decision I ever made.
* my filet and shrimp cravings threatened to bankrupt us when I was pregnant, but it was all I could really stomach besides salad, ice cream, and Cheerwine.
** I've always enjoyed having a large purse, but it became a necessity after children. I (sort of) cleaned it out the other day and found an unopened can of Coke, a broken paci, 8 grocery lists, a child's toothbrush, and mylecon. Things disappear in my purse.
*** You know the ones, with the missing button, the frayed leg holes at the bottom, and the bleach stain. Or my personal favorite, the "buffet pants". These are old stretchy maternity pants that I've willed into still fitting and have a hole in the leg but I continue to wear anyway. Perfect for a trip to a buffet or Thanksgiving, for said stretchiness.