Today, I offer a simple word of encouragement for all the moms who have ever tried to go grocery shopping with one in the infant seat, one in the cart, and one- or more- tagging along behind (you hope!) Here's the word: It gets easier. Sometimes, in the midst of runny noses, dirty diapers, mashed peas and Elmo, it just helps to know simple things like that.
I was reminded of this recently while shopping at Walmart one morning. I was alone, since I now have built-in babysitting and can enjoy little luxuries such as wandering the aisles of the grocery store all by myself. (How I have waited for such a time as this!) While perusing the canned vegetables, I happened to pass a young mother of two. She wears a tangerine sweatsuit and a ponytail, and she holds an unhappy toddler in one arm while she shoves the cart along with the other. A 3-year-old girl with a pink jacket and a sticky face clings to the side of the cart, and Grandma follows close behind. I smile inside because I have Been There, Done That.
Soon, the 3-year-old begins begging for the new Dora Lunch Box inside the cart, presumably a gift from Grandma, because the first thing that every baby learns after "mom means milk" and dad means "Party!" is "Grandma means Pushover!" Which is all well and good... most of the time. In this case, mom hands child the lunchbox, which child begins swinging wildly, endangering her fellow shoppers as well as several displays full of canned goods. Mom warns child to stop, and child does not stop. The moment of truth: does this mom's word mean anything- or not? The child and I are both wondering what will happen. This drama is much more interesting than my search for Great Northern Beans, so I am hanging around to see what happens. Besides, they are blocking the beans.
Mom is serious. She takes the lunch box away and calmly explains that child will not get the lunchbox again if such behavior continues. Child throws self on floor in a screaming fit. Mom walks away, leaving Grandma to rationalize with child. I know from experience that 99% of the time, Grandma is great to have around; at times like this... not so much. I silently cheer mom on, hoping she knows that if she doesn't win this one, she'll have a screaming fit on her hands at Walmart again next week, with or without Grandma. (Rule #1: Never negotiate with terrorists.) When we pass again three aisles down, child is sniffling beside the cart and Grandma looks harried... but the Dora lunch box is still in the cart. Go, mom!! I smile at her, but she does not know I have Been There, Done That, and she does not care. She is exhausted, but she has won.
I want to tell her that it gets easier, that these days will soon pass and one day, she will again get to leave the house- or just go to the bathroom- by herself. She will soon be dealing with a whole different set of issues: algebra, the hairbrush that is constantly disappearing from her bathroom, and negotiations over slumber parties and telephone time. I want to tell her that if she sticks to her guns, the day will come when she will actually enjoy taking her children to Walmart. But right now, the mother does not care about all these things. Her life is diapers and Dora and sippee cups. So we pass in the aisle, me and my quiet basket of canned goods and she with her sniffling, cheerio-dropping entourage. It gets easier, I think, but for now... it is enough that she has won.