October 25, 2016
You know we all have those kind of days. Ones where nothing seems to be going right. Ones where you just want to throw up your white flag to surrender for the day. You win, kids. You beat me down. While I didn't say those exact words, crying in the grocery store line certainly was my silent version of it.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was 31 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. Which, means lots of hormones flooding through my little frame turning rounder by the day. My then-almost-two-year-old was settling into a very challenging stage of, well, the absolutely most terrible two's I've ever seen. We needed to go grocery shopping desperately as our pantry and fridge were bare bones, which doesn't work well for a very pregnant momma and three constantly hungry kids. I didn't feel like going. I mean, who wants to go grocery shopping? But, I pushed myself to get ready and to just get it done.
I wish I hadn't.
Just the start of our day should have been warning enough to stay home and hibernate, containing the crazy within our walls. Coming out of my bathroom, hair still wet with a towel turban on, I find our new cat pooping on my side of the bed and having sprayed her foul urine on our white curtains out of anger that we had left her home over a holiday break. I also enter my room finding my almost-two-year-old tearing apart a childhood item of mine, precious things that cannot be replaced. Pieces of a special book my father had read to me over and over when I was younger were being scattered all over my floor like confetti. And then, while I was cleaning those messes up, I come down stairs finding her climbing on the kitchen counters, yet again reaching things at dangerous heights. I mean, this child, I could not leave her alone for even a second.
Still, I clean up everything, swallow down my impatience, and get everyone ready to go anyway. Because food is important, ya know.
We get situated in the cart and my almost-two-year-old is content for about halfway through my grocery list. I pull out my shopping tricks consisting of snacks and books, which last about a grand total of 2 minutes. Then, with my limited entertainment gone, she is quite done with this shopping trip. My ninja-toddler starts screaming and climbing out of the fastened cart belts, certain to commit toddler suicide right there in Trader Joes' produce aisle as she flings herself over the edge. I capture her to protect her from her own self, situate her on my hip (remember: large pregnant belly in front), and begin flying through the aisles, gathering whatever items I can remember while pushing the cart one-handed. And, don't forget my then-four-year-old son in tow (big sister was in school) swinging on the cart handle like a monkey making it even heavier to push. This is why I have nice arms, y’all. My internal stress-o-meter is nearing the tipping point as my toddler continues to scream from the lock of my right arm around her waist, flinging buck wild with her upper body facing the ground horizontally. I know I looked like a hot mess in there, stern faced and frantic to just make it through as people stared at our cart circus. I was feeling overwhelmed and judged imagining what people were thinking of me: She can’t even handle the kids she has and she’s pregnant again. HA!
I finally make it to the checkout line, toddler still screaming by my side. The checkout lady innocently asks, “How are you doing today?” Which, of course, triggers the hormonal response of tears spilling over as I shake my head that, no, I am not doing well today. Pity party in line 4. Instead of judgment though, I receive grace and encouragement. The sweet woman behind me gives me a gentle touch on my shoulder as she says, “It's okay, we all have these days” and the checkout lady sends her co-worker to bring me a bouquet of flowers to cheer me up. Trader Joes has the best customer service. If I had to cry in the checkout line, I sure picked the right grocery to do so.
So the lesson here is if you are a hormonal mess and your children are driving you crazy, don't go to the grocery store. If you must get food, use Harris Teeter pick-up. Totally worth $5 to sit in your car while they shop and load it for you. It'll save everyone some tears. But then you might not get free flowers!
For real, though, just know you aren't alone. Some days are downright embarrassing as a parent. Just as the line lady told me though, everyone has these days. Even that perfect-looking Pinterest neighbor of yours. In fact, earlier this week I saw a mom toting her screaming toddler on her hip pushing her baby through the store one-handedly and I absolutely could emphasize with her. She wasn't close enough for me to encourage her, but you bet I was sending positive thoughts her way. Tomorrow is a new day and we get to try this parenting thing again with hopefully a little more sleep, some chocolate, and maybe some flowers perched on our kitchen counter to cheer us up.