Saturday, December 11, 2010

Going Krogering

Attention Kroger shoppers,

In case you were wondering, I don't enjoy hauling four small children to the grocery store.

Their dad is out of town, and we have no milk. Nor tortillas. Nor peanut butter. Nor bananas. I just named the four basic food groups in this home, and they were all depleted. My children were on the verge of starvation.

Not only that, but I was out of Fat Free Half and Half, and my coffee with Fat Free Half and Half is proof that His mercies are new every morning.

Obviously there was a crisis in my home. Otherwise I would have never carted four children to the store right between dinner and bedtime. I would have come by myself, because when I am by myself, I don't beg myself for a car cart, I don't throw a fit over TicTacs, I don't beg for cookies in the bakery, I don't drop my pacifier on the disgusting grocery store floor, and my bladder can withstand the entire shopping trip without having to relieve itself even once.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. So desperately, off the five of us went.

Some of you were nice. To the woman who laughed out loud when Shep and Maggie burst into "You can't always get what you waaa-annnnnt" as their sister cried over my refusal to buy her press-on nails, thank you. My kids are indeed entertaining, and it makes me happy that you shared in a little of my joy.

To the older woman on the detergent aisle, who looked at me with "that smile", I knew exactly what you were going to say before you said it. I have seen "that smile" before. That smile is always followed by, "I had seven (or five, or six) myself." And I don't have to tell you, because you already know, that phrase is about the most encouraging thing you can say to me. Instantly I know, you get it. And you lived to tell! And shop by yourself again!

To the woman who let out a stream of curse words when you knocked over the tampon boxes: I understand that my son caused a hormonal surge in you when he said, "Wow, that lady sure is grumpy." But I'm sorry, you totally had it coming. And everyone was laughing at you, not with you.

To the man who let out an exaggerated sigh when my daughter joyfully pushed her little kid cart out of the aisle and into your way: sorry, yeah, they can be annoying. You were too at that age.

To the older woman in the black jacket ahead of me in the checkout line, you kept shooting looks at me too. You should know that I know what those looks mean, as I am used to them as well. Those Looks always seem to come from certain women of my mother's generation who believe that it should be a crime for any woman to bear any more than a respectable 2.5 children. And if we insist on breeding them, then we should at least be considerate enough to leave them at home and out of your personal space.

I get rather irritated by those looks, and the occasional ugly comments, and I have an urge to look at you with wild eyes and say, "We're not even done. We're gonna have more!! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!"

But mostly I feel sorry for people like you, Black Jacket Lady. And I'd like to tell you another grocery store story.

My friend Araceli was in the checkout lane with her three small boys. The boys were acting like three boys do and Araceli was frazzled and aggravated. Suddenly an elderly woman came over to her, patted her hand, looked her in the eyes and said, "Dear, I'd give anything in the world to trade places with you right now."

I know you don't understand that, Black Jacket Lady. But I do. And one day, God willing, I will be that elderly lady, and I might just say those very same words to an exhausted young mom, and it might cause her to fight back the tears and hug her little boys in the middle of the Kroger checkout lane, just like Araceli did.

So thank you, Black Jacket Lady. Your dirty looks today reminded me how amazingly, amazingly blessed I am.

And my children thank you too, as they scored some TicTacs out of it.

originally published 6/2/09


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