I vaguely remember my pre-children days. I had lots of ideas about child-raising. One thing in particular that I never understood and always hated seeing was kids in shopping carts with their grubby little hands stuffed into a box of cereal or a bag of chips. I was annoyed. I was grossed out. I thought, How could that poor excuse for a mother allow her child to eat something that has NOT been paid for? And, why would she let him do that while he’s sitting in that NASTY shopping cart? And why can’t all women be like me? I am awesome. And my child will NEVER eat in the grocery store.
A few years later, I had my first child. During Adelade’s infant days I continued to judge my fellow mothers for their lack of control.
Adelade found her voice. And, it was a loud voice. It was a demanding voice. And the voice was demanding fruit snacks. And Goldfish crackers. And the voice wasn’t satisfied with toys from home or my well-reasoned ideas about why she shouldn’t rip open every package in the grocery store. The voice had no interest in my theories of child rearing.
So, by the time I got to the end of my first shopping experience with the voice, I was pouring sweat. My heart was beating way too fast. My blood pressure was probably at heart attack levels. And the voice never let up, despite my somewhat obvious stress. People glanced at me with sympathy. True, I had not given in to the voice’s pressure. But, I got the definite impression that pretty much everyone around me wished desperately that I had. That’s the thing about the voice. It can’t be contained so that only you are tortured. No, the voice is no respecter of age or annoyance. It aims to let everyone within earshot know what it wants.
Well, the next time I went to the grocery store, I was sweating before I walked in. I had a plan, but I was nervous about it. The voice was already making a grand showing. What if I gave in and gave the voice what it wanted and it STILL didn’t stop? I made my way to the cracker aisle. I casually picked up a package of crackers and carefully ripped it open, sure all the while that a security guard would come running up, handcuffs open and ready to take me away.
But, an incredible thing happened. No one ran up protesting. No one even looked my way. AND THE VOICE STOPPED. All I could hear was the glorious sound of a toddler’s chewing. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was really going to be okay. It is possible to shop after you have children. Suddenly, rather than being ashamed of my stooping to opening food for Adelade in the store, I felt proud that I was a mother who had figured out how to function in grocery stores. I had added one more piece to the how-to-do-life-with-kids puzzle. And, I found myself smiling broadly at the college girls who seemed grossed out by my munching baby. One day you’ll learn, I thought.
And I reached into the box for a cracker to snack on.