I know it seems like all of my mommy moment stories involve grocery shopping, but I’ve got another one for you. This one almost beats any adventure I’ve ever had at the store.
The only one that maybe ties this episode is when we were at Winco and the kids were running around the cart like usual and this elderly lady came up to me to tell me how well-behaved my children were and that she had had to get a babysitter to go to the store in her day because she had NINE children and couldn’t face the store with them. Just as I was deciding whether to commit this lady or be proud of my children, Riley comes up screaming because he had gotten his hand stuck in a cardboard display and sliced his finger down the side. I thanked the crazy lady who was now regretting her words and ran out of the store, blood dripping behind us.
But, I digress. And yes, what I’m about to tell you is worse than that. Even without all the blood.
We had just gotten home from a trip to Utah that was over a week long. We had driven through the night and I was going on just a few hours of sleep, including the night after we got home. I was tired. And when I’m tired, my fuse disappears and every situation seems worse than it really is. Looking back, I really think this situation was just that bad though.
So I really shouldn’t have left the house at all. I should’ve stayed home and hidden my frazzled state from the world. But we had emptied our fridge before we left to Utah and we literally had five things to eat in the whole house. I couldn’t force my children to eat dry spaghetti noodles, so off we went to the store.
I try to avoid Walmart at all costs, but that day it was closer and it had diapers, two very important things to me in the moment.
We got there and my list had 12 things on it. Just enough to get us through this week until we got paid again. Seemed simple. I had high hopes for the shopping trip.
I put the boys in the back of the cart and Ty up front. We didn’t make it 20 feet to the bananas before the boys were screaming that they were squished and that their arms were touching and their fingers were smashed and that whatever was happening in the cart was enough trauma to produce very loud screams.
I couldn’t take the judgemental stares, I hefted the boys out of the cart and threatened to empty our pool if they strayed one inch from the cart. They promised to behave.
Why did I ever think they would listen?
They were running up and down the aisles, picking up items, throwing them down, hiding in the blank spots where the food had been emptied, opening every refrigerator door, mopping the floors with their bodies, flying like rockets, and screaming like the Bernstein Bears to Gimme Gimme Gimme! At one point Riley had an egg poised to throw at my face. I am not kidding. I wish I was.
At first I did feel some pretty heated anger rising up into my fingertips, ready to snatch my children up, throw them in the cart, and just get out of there. But quickly that turned into embarrassment and I was overwhelmed and just wanted to sit down and cry.
We managed to get in line and for once the line was pretty short. I only had one person in front of me. I thought I had received my tender mercy of a miracle. Then I got up there and started putting my items on the counter while trying to keep Riley from wheeling away the newspaper cart and ordering Mikey to put away the random fruit item that Riley had snuck in the cart earlier, and realized I had over 30 items in my cart and I was in the 20 item or less line.
Cue the “what do you think you are doing” look from my cashier and the “who do you think you are” looks from the people behind me. And there were quite a few at that point. Four carts had joined me. I literally prayed that I could just get out of that store…and as fast as possible.
That’s when the cashier held up my bag of apples and said, “did you take the tag off of these?”
I pointed to the tag on the bag and said, “You mean that tag?”
She looked at me like I shouldn’t have been allowed to shop by myself.
“No, the other tag that comes with it. The one with the bar code.”
“I don’t know. It was like that when I got it.”
She rolled her eyes at me and walked away to find the apples. I saw her go to the bin where I had picked up the apples, and then saw her walk away. It was empty. No more apples. She asked a male worker what he thought. He pointed across the store. I saw her ask that person what they thought. He pointed across the store. Then I saw her disappear behind two rubber produce doors into the back of Walmart.
I could’ve just dug a hole in the floor and lived there for the rest of my life.
Everyone was yelling behind me about how long this was taking, and how stupid some people are, and asking if I really needed the apples in the first place.
I wanted to sneak behind the checkout stand and announce over the loud-speaker that no, I really didn’t need the apples. Please come back and save me from the angry mob.
She did come back, ten minutes later. And I would’ve walked out of the store before she came back if it wasn’t for this angel behind me.
When I say angel, I mean I saw her glowing. She was the real thing.
She had one item in her cart. A watermelon. And she was stuck behind 30 items in a 20 item line moron me. There was also a little toddler in her cart who was just the sweetest little girl ever. And she proceeded to tell me that everything was going to be okay and that she totally knew how I felt. Last time she was here, she had a box of baby wipes. The checker was searching and searching for the bar code to scan it and couldn’t find it anywhere on the box. She said that it took about ten minutes, also with an uprising growing behind her, to figure out that the box had been closed wrong and the bar code was inside of it. They had to cut open the box to scan it. She said of course she was the type of person to get the only box with the malfunction.
Then she reassured me that Gala apples were the best and totally worth the wait.
She even went further to say how cute my boys were.
What?!? I didn’t deserve this woman.
I paid and literally ran with my cart to the car, yelling that my kids were going to spend the rest of the day in time out and that mommy needed alone time.
I threw the food in the trunk and got the kids buckled in. As I exited the car, sweating and angry, the angel woman was behind me, offering to take my cart to the cart holder. She said she had looked for me to help me but was too slow and she really hoped I would have a great day.
As the emotions started to wear off on the ride home, I started to think more rationally. Yes, my kids would go in timeout when they got home just as I had promised. But, they would probably come back out again after five minutes and I would tell them that I loved them and forgave them for being totally crazy at the store.
Because real life is kids being crazy once in a while, especially after behaving spectacularly well on a 12 hour road trip. And real life is angels, making you feel special when you make a couple of mistakes and others are trying to tear you down. This is real life.