Once upon a time, my grocery list used to be written out by aisle, marked with symbols indicating whether the item had store coupons, manufacturer coupons, or both, estimated cost with or without coupons, and an estimated total of the grocery bill.
Now, I walk away from my grocery cart, distracted by something I’ve forgotten to write on my list, and steal someone else’s cart that may or may not have similar items my cart held.
I’m a shopping cart thief. I confess.
Sometimes I don’t notice I’ve thieved a different cart until I’ve gotten home and I’m unloading the groceries. “Honeycrisp apples?” I say out loud. “We don’t buy those. They’re expensive.” Empty more bags. “Where are the bananas?”
Crap. I’ve done it again.
When I messaged Captain Laser Pants that I cart swapped (again), he asked me if I had come home with the right baby. The good news is that mini Gwinn wasn’t with me (he was at MMO), so I hadn’t made off with the wrong child. What happened to me? Where has my brain gone? He commented that I didn’t even have our child to distract me this time. I told husband that the bliss of grocery shopping sans- grabby toddler must have put me in a fog as I wandered through the aisles of Target, perusing the clearance clothing with a cup of Starbucks in hand. He laughed.
During the purgatory known as “pregnancy,” I heard a report on the radio about a pregnant woman’s brain actually shrinking. I don’t remember if the research said anything about a woman’s brain returning to normal size postpartum (I was pregnant, I don’t remember what was said, my brain was small), but it made me question one’s ability to parent on all cylinders. There are some moms that are hopelessly put together. I see them every Friday morning when I drop off mini Gwinn at MMO. Matching sweater set, perfectly pressed khaki shorts, pearls, lady- like sandals, hair and makeup finished and applied beautifully- all before 9 AM. Their daughters, because they always have daughters, are wearing white linen ruffled dresses with pink hair bows and not a spec of dirt on them. Then I walk in wearing clothes only suited for the gym, glasses on and hair up in a messy bun, tucked under a hat. Mini Gwinn probably has a smear of raspberry on his cheek, a milk spot on his shirt, and he’s shaking his head “no” at me as I tell him to hold my hand. Then he shoves my hand off his and runs, his own little fingers grabbing his recently poorly chopped hair. Maybe their brains were super sized to begin with, maybe they’re just really better at organization and appearance than I am, but I can’t help but feeling second rate when I see these moms with their perfect children. Don’t get me wrong- mini Gwinn is spirited, and active, but he’s in no way behaviorally challenged. He’s mostly a delight (mostly). Yesterday, as he was kicking and crying in the car from exhaustion, I was trying to soothe him just three blocks from our house. Instead of stopping my car for a full three seconds at a stop sign in a residential area, I only stopped for one or two. I was immediately pulled over by a policeman who could plainly see I was having a bad day. MG had calmed down in the backseat momentarily, but his cheeks were tear stained and red. I was let off with a warning (he told me I didn’t stop long enough, which made me laugh), and as we pulled away into our neighborhood, mini Gwinn lost it and started sobbing again. I’m willing to bet these sweater set- pearl wearing moms in their Infiniti SUVs have never been pulled over in a residential area for not stopping long enough at a stop sign because they were so distracted by their child’s crying in the back seat.
But I guess we all have our own paths, and we are given what we can handle. As a light at the end of the day, my little guy showed me where his nose, ears, eyes and tummy are. He said “I just want to go over there” as we took our afternoon walk. He let me hold his hand. And, even though I may absentmindedly steal other people’s carts at Target, and I wear gym clothes while others are in Ralph Lauren sweater sets, and I get pulled over for driving under the influence of tears, I don’t believe any of these things make me a bad mom. We have a lot of laughter, a lot of love, and when we look back on this time in our lives, it won’t be these little things we remember, it will be the giggles and the tickles and the love.