When I got married, someone warned me, “You’ll find places in stores you never knew existed.” Truth. I certainly did find places I had no interest in shopping, except for the undeniable fact that a vacuum is an unwanted necessity.
No one warned me when I had kids, that I would find even more places I didn’t really want to shop, and I would likely have to haul those kids with me.
Shopping exclusively for what you want is reserved for a few privileged adults. Shopping solo is a luxury I did not even realize I enjoyed until I became a Mom.
My first inkling that the shopping paradigm had shifted was when, long before there was an Ikea within driving distance, a high-end furniture store where I hoped to procure a sofa offered child-care services. My darling toddler had always struggled a bit with being left alone, but seemed to be easily distracted by the animated video valium presented by the “Children’s Room Hostess,” so I was able to shop undistracted. I didn’t think much time had passed, but I when I returned she burst into uncontrollable sobs, trying, between snivels, to explain the tragic plot points of The Velveteen Rabbit.
On-site child care wasn’t really an option after that. I just started taking her with me.
Trouble is, the crazy laws of nature demand that the more people in your family, the more stuff needs to be purchased, transported and stored. And we kept adding little people, and needing more stuff.
I remember hauling them all to the grocery store. Which wasn’t all that bad as long as we obeyed the rules: we buy only what is on the list, and don’t lose anything. Also, please limit questions to three per child.
Most of the time, I managed to compose a list, and get everyone in and out of the grocery store with minimal drama, and most of what we needed.
Once in awhile, my husband would help me tackle the warehouse shopping, where we could load the family van with enough toilet paper, diapers and laundry detergent to last a month.
During one of these adventures, a very ill-timed moment of distraction allowed an unsupervised toddler to discover an aisle with a wide selection of scooters. Warehouse stores really do have a great venue for racing scooters, but not really the best venue for middle-aged parents to garner enough speed to catch a toddler on a scooter.
I’m happy to report no one suffered injuries during that incident. And we did not purchase the scooter.
Heaven forbid I ever needed to shop for underclothing. The garment racks are just way too much like playground monkey bars. Those are the moments I learned to walk up to my boys and ask, “Where is your Mother?” And also when I realized, sometimes you can hire a babysitter when you need to shop.
Now that my kids are older, I often wander the grocery store with my ear-buds secured firmly in place. Half the time, I’m not even playing music, I’m just listening to the sound of no one asking for anything.