It was an ugly scene.
A young mother pushes her cart through Super Wal-Mart, struggling through the aisles, trying to finish her shopping with two tired, hungry, and rambunctious kids in tow. A girl of about six dances alongside of her -- narrowly missing a collision with a display of peaches -- and a boy of about two has climbed onto the end of the cart -- you know, the place where children are not supposed to ride but can't seem to resist.
The distressed mother is heading back to the produce section for that one final item, the broccoli that she forgot on her first trip down that aisle, when it happens.
The toddler turns to step off of the cart, trips, and SPLAT!!! is suddenly layed out face-first on the hard floor. Screams of anguish ensue, annoyed shoppers turn to stare, and for a split second, the woman is convinced that the kid has probably broken every bone in his face.
And, of course everyone is looking at her wondering "Why can't this woman control her kids?"
The horror of this story?
That it was me.
That I've become one of those mothers.
One of those mothers who does not always seem to have it all under control. One of those mothers who doesn't always keep her children perfectly in-check. One of those mothers who looks like she doesn't have a clue what she's doing. One of those mothers who would probably bribe her children with candy from the checkout line if only she could fiish her shopping in peace. One of those mothers who clearly doesn't care what she looks like as long as she can get throught this day in one piece.
One of those mothers who I used to swear I would never be.
As a new mom to a precious litte girl, I had high ideals and high standards. And with one child, I was usually able to live up to them. My rule at the grocery store was simple: you don't get out of the cart. It was the rule, and I meant it, and she knew I meant it.
I also always came prepared; I brought snacks and games and had all kinds of tricks up my sleeves for dealing with toddlers in the grocery store. The combination of her fairly cooperative personality and my new mom energy and motivation to "get everything right" made for many mostly pleasant shopping experiences.
And then I had baby number two.
And he is different. And I am different. And when you put us together in a massively overwhelming place like Super Wal-Mart, we're like an atom bomb just waiting to explode.
Super Wal-Mart, by the way, didn't exist in St. Louis when my daughter was little. Back then, in the good old days, I shopped at the regular-sized grocery stores, and thought I was in heaven when the miniature-sized Trader Joes moved into town. I'm convinced that the new trend in "superstores" is a direct attempt by our society to literally send moms with small children over the edge . . .
So, like I said baby #2 is different. He's a boy -- which I know is just a social construct that I shouldn't use to describe him -- but his gender is thus far the only tangible way I can find to explain why he is so different from his sister. He runs more, he jumps more, he aways seems like he's ready to physically explode. He doesn't care what my rules are or how seriously I mean them. He would gleefully run away from me in a store without ever looking back, and he's not averse to climbing out my cart and into the meat case the moment I'm not looking.
And I'm different too. I may only be a few years older, and only a few years more experienced as a mom, but I've already lost sight of that bright-eyed, new mom I used to be. I don't have the energy to always come prepared with snacks. I don't care if other shoppers look at me with judgement or question my methods with my kids. I manage to get the groceries I need and keep everybody alive. Good behavior entirely optional.
I have more simple goals these days.
Essentially, I've grown up a little bit. I've become one of those mothers who knows that bad days happen to good mothers. One of those mothers who knows that it doesn't matter what other people think about me and my kids and my choices. One of those mothers who is doing her best but still always falling short of her ideals.
And, most importantly, one of those mothers who knows that falling short is sometimes okay.
Do you have any grocery store horror stories? What are your best tips and tricks for shopping with kids? Have you found that your mothering style and mentality has changed as your kids have gotten older and you've become more experienced?