Gone are the days of running into the grocery store without breaking a sweat, getting a mocha to keep you company, and snagging the items on your grocery list without visiting the free cookie lady at the bakery. Nowadays it looks more like this:
You pull your mom-friendly rig into a parking space after doing some laps around the parked cars so the baby can sleep just a few more minutes. The people sitting in their cars wonder what kind of looney tune does that. After parking, you sit there a little while longer, because you can't bear to have everybody unbuckled just yet. Your kids ask why we're still sitting in the car, and you reply, "Because Mom just needs some time." As if you were getting ready to be wheeled back for major surgery. Then you get up the courage to move, after considering calling your husband to pick up the items on your list instead of hauling everybody in.
But you decide you need to be brave. This is life, and you're very capable of taking children into the grocery store. The kids get unbuckled, and like a commander of a large army, you direct who holds whose hand and that all are to walk behind Mom - without running.
You make it into the store without anyone jumping on the coin-op ice cream truck that sits invitingly by the automatic sliding doors. You grab yourself a cart or two, placing the baby's carseat in the large basket of the cart, where the food is supposed to go. But it's okay, because you've gotten two carts and one of the older kids is pushing it. The toddler sits in the front spot with the buckle (so the little cutie doesn't escape) or in the back basket (vowing not to stand up), if you don't have a carseat taking up residence. But if you have two toddlers, you have to take more time thinking about the situation.
And you decide that one toddler can go in the front spot with the buckle in one cart, and one can go in the front spot in the other. You finally get moving, looking like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade - except you're not throwing candy and waving at onlookers. But people are looking. They try to figure out if you're a daycare or a field trip with a strange assortment of preschoolers (since your kids "should" be in school if you homeschool.) You either receive knowing smiles or sideways glances. You smile at the smilers, and pray that the sideways glancers know just how important children are.
You purposefully kept your list to the essentials only, but your list still takes you to the outer reaches of the store. You move swiftly, not pausing long enough near the toys, chips, cookies, soda, or candy aisles for the kids to notice as your parade passes through. But one of your two year olds notices. He points emphatically toward the Oreos.
You quietly whisper in his ear, so no one else will hear, "No cookies today, buddy. You already had one."
He wails, "COOKIE!!" He kicks his feet and screams out of his free cookie crumb spattered face. Doesn't he realize he just had one? Nope. You can't rationalize with a toddler near the cookie aisle.
They've all heard now. And then the asking begins. As you try to calm down irrational cookie boy, you maneuver the carts off to the side in a boring aisle like the one that displays the canned vegetables. And you have a little chat.
You firmly express, "We are not getting anything that is not on our list. Cookies are not on our list, plus we make our own at home. And no, we are not making any when we get home. Do you guys understand? No toy aisle, no cookies."
As you are wrapping up the shopping trip, you walk past the health food section, and spy the organic chocolate bars with the yummy toffee in them. You get one down from the shelf while the kids are distracted looking at the organic soda. You carefully slide the guilty goodness in the cart. It's not on the list, but Moms can decide to deviate. And sometimes deviating is a good thing.
You make it to the checkout lanes without another one of your dissatisfied customers having an outburst. You take a deep breath and realize you did it. The sense of accomplishment washes over you, causing you to beam with thankfulness and love for your kids.
You make it out to the parking lot, two carts and all.
Then a small voice peeps, "I have to go to the bathroom."
Then another. "Me too."