Truth be told, I’d rather wait until my kids are in bed and my husband is home from the office, when I’ve been awake already for 15 hours straight mothering and working and cleaning and never stopping, than take my pee-wee pride and joys to the grocery store.
Of course I know that it’s a thing that people do out of necessity.
Of course I know that there are tutorials on Pinterest for making it an educational outing about nutrition and math.
But I just don’t wanna.
Grocery shopping used to feel like visiting a spa. I’d leave my hectic day outside the automatic doors and enter a cool, quiet mecca of all my favorite things to eat. Yay, food! The hidden OCD part of me felt comfort in the organization as I strolled down the aisles humming to the Whitney Houston hit playing overhead, shopping list in hand, considering a stop in the seasonal aisle where the latest best-selling books were often displayed. In the grocery store, I was alone with my thoughts, picking out ingredients for dishes I looked forward to making, in full control of the situation. I didn’t have to talk to anyone, and when I did, the words were pleasantries: happily helping a little old lady reach something off the high shelf with my gorilla arms or thanking a new bagger for separating my dry goods from frozen. It was relaxing. Rejuvinating. It was something I looked forward to doing.
Then I had two small, shouty mouths to feed that followed me everywhere.
When they were really little—know what? Never mind that. I can’t even go there. It was simply too awful to even think about right now: the running in opposite directions, the need to poop when we were half-done shopping and his baby sister was asleep in the cart, the everything just being not fun always. So let’s fast-forward to the now.
There is some terrible magic that makes my reasonably independent, school-aged children become insufferable, irrational barnacles once they realize we will soon cross a grocery store’s threshold. It’s not just mine; I’ve seen it happen to other good kids, as well. It is bad voodoo and it is simply dreadful to experience.
The change is immediate and shocking every time it happens, so I am giving up. I love my kids too much to spend my weekly grocery run hating them. Here are some of the specific reasons why I am throwing in the towel and grocery shopping only alone and under the cover of night from now on.
1. I have 37 of their “art projects” hidden in my trunk along with at least one big black garbage bag of toys I snuck out of the house at any given time and I can’t risk the kids intervening on my purge.
2. I prefer to not have the following items added to my list while I am driving us there: ice cream, a puppy, popsicles, ice cream, video games, ice cream, candy, a new sister, and a side of my brother has a poopy face.
3. It’d be nice to leave the radio on in the car for once without being asked questions such as, “Mama, what does ‘tap dat ass’ mean?”
4. It’d also be nice to not have to lick my thumb and try to remove evidence of my kid swinging the car door open and hitting the car next to us in the parking lot like she always does, no matter how many times I tell her to not swing the damn door open like that.
5. The A/C is always too cold for my kids and they won’t bring the long-sleeved shirts I told them to bring and let’s not have this I Told You So Moment again mkay?
6. They like maybe seven foods each in real life, yet claim they want me to buy them at least 23 things per aisle.
7. Our store has those mini metal carts for kids to push and I like my Achilles tendon unsevered.
8. Even worse? Those stupid, fucking car shopping cart pieces of shit that are full of Ebola and E. coli and other things that dissolve children upon contact.
9. It’s just not fun shouting, “I SAID STAY TO THE RIGHT!” in my fake-nice voice one million times per outing.
10. I don’t want to have to hand over all the shit they snuck into the cart to the poor cashier who did not take this $8/hour job to be my kids’ personal assistant.
11. Precariously stacked things are within their reach in far too many places. As in, everyfrickinwhere.
12. I have to apologize to way fewer people when I’m pushing the cart and actually looking around me than when my kids push the cart and are looking anywhere but around them.
13. Nineties muzak is my jam and I’m in the mood to dance alone.
14. I cannot explain the circle of life by the live lobster tank one more time without cussing.
15. It’s easier to buy the cookies I hide from the kids when they aren’t with me.
16. I simply do not need to hear how vegetables taste like butt today. I’m buying them no matter what anyone around me says.
17. I fear there will be no candy-free checkouts available and I don’t want my sanity to die a sudden, terrible death caused by the one final, brain-collapsing, whiney, “PLEAAAAASE?”
So if you see me late one night trolling the local supermarket in my PJs, happily bopping my head to a synthesized mix of INXS while dropping fat clusters of fresh broccoli into my cart, you’ll understand why. And I have a feeling I won’t be the only mom you’ll see doing the same.