I hate grocery shopping. It is the stupidest concept on the planet. Let’s talk it through. You drive to the store, grab a cart…if you have my luck, the cart has a wobbly wheel, a sticky handle-bar, and/or a mind of its own. Only after spending five minutes pretending you aren’t irritated by the wobbly-wheeled, sticky handle-bar cart, you finally ditch it. Normal people, who shop for normal sized families are forced to search for another cart. Not your Momma. I just turn on my super hero powers and carry everything I need for the week in my tired arms. I digress. Then you walk up and down aisles, taking items off shelves and placing them into your cart. Just when you think the up-down-up-down is over – you remembered an ingredient you just can’t make that casserole without, so you loop all the way back to the first aisle. Then…you stand in line. You often stand in that line longer than it takes you to drive there – and home. Next, you place the items onto the checkout belt. Only to then pack the items into bags. You then take the 50 bags of food – that easily could’ve fit into 6 bags, and put them back into your cart.
You wheel the cart to your car, and unload the 50 bags – which could be six, into your trunk. Then, you drive home. (You consider stopping for a drink to award yourself for a job well done, but you quickly remember your cash flow has just been spent on stupid food, which is in 50 stupid bags, in your stupid ass trunk – which you now hate even though it is an innocent by-stander in this whole stupid excursion.) So you just drive home. When you arrive, you take the bags inside. Even though you should take four trips, you insist you can make it happen in two. A dented can of beans and a leaking milk jug later, you curse yourself for trying to be Shera, queen of the grocery bag carrier, again.
Next up: you spend 20 minutes putting those SAME items you removed from shelves in the store, back onto shelves in your kitchen. It.truly.makes.no.sense.
Your Nana maintains that she’s never seen anyone more content with going hungry than having to obtain and make food. I will point out, I made more meals during the 8 weeks you and I were home on maternity leave than I did the combined 37 years prior. It’s fine. I was just waiting for the ‘know how to cook a meal’ gene that emerges after women have children. I always knew it would come.
This weekend, the whole ‘eating to survive’ thing trumped my distain for grocery shopping. So off to Sendick’s I went. It only took moments for me to realize I just didn’t have the energy to go through the motions of doing normal things, that normal people, with normal lives, and normal families partake in without blinking an eye. To buy myself some time, I ditched my cart…even though it wasn’t wobbly – and headed to the bathroom. I locked myself behind a stall door and attempted to give myself a pep talk. Before my first deep inhale, a mother and her toddler son entered the bathroom. I wanted to flush myself down the toilet.
I am assuming the little guy was about 3 years old – I never did get a look at him. His mommy was insistent that he go ‘potty’ alone, while she stood guard outside his stall door. The encouragement required to get him to agree to this arrangement was beyond endearing…and beyond heart-breaking. In the end, his mommy’s authentic support convinced this little guy that he was brave enough to ‘be a big boy’. No sooner did his stall door close – did he began to rattle off questions.
“Are you still there?”
“Mommy. Mommy? Are you waiting for me?”
“Of course, sweetie. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Mommy…don’t leave me.”
“Sweetie, I will NEVER leave you.”
….pause, pause, pause.
“No, sweetie. Never.”
“Mommy, you won’t leave me…even if you die?”
(Audible gasp…Though, at this point, I still can’t say for sure if came from this little guy’s Mommy – – -or from me.)
“Of course not, honey. Not even when I die.”
“Mommy, if I die – I won’t leave you either. Because I don’t want to ever be away from you. Not even if I die.”
I am certain this mommy heard my stifled sobs, which were nicely echoing off Sendick’s, barren bathroom walls. It took all I had not to charge through the stall door, grab onto her shoulders, look through her eyes, and straight into her soul – while begging her to never, ever let her dear boy go. Never. Not even for a second. Not even to encourage him to be a big boy and use the bathroom on his own. But, my legs wouldn’t have worked if I wanted them to.
There have been many times in the last 20 months when I’ve known you’re with me. Other times I think it is you – but, I find myself wanting ‘more proof’. Today falls under the former category. After all, only you would come with me on the most dreaded errand of all time, and follow me right into the grocery store bathroom – to make good and sure I knew it was really you.
The fear that management would be beckoned to check on “…the crazy woman hyperventilating in the Ladies’ Room” propelled me into action. I swung the stall door open, threw water on my face, avoided eye contact with the reflection of the stranger who so often greets me in the mirror, and fled for safety. I quickly realized I was in a god damn grocery store…making it not so safe and cozy after all.
I ultimately left with two of the 24 items on my list: gummy bears and wine. There’s always next week.
I miss you. I love you. I would have packed really good lunches for you.
Stay with me, Sweet Boy.