I was giddy with excitement for Tim to get home from work tonight. He said he’d be home “early”. Which meant he’d put Hannah to bed and I’d get to (drumroll please) go to the grocery store ALONE. Really, is there anything better? Do we not crave that time to walk up and down each aisle, quietly. Slowly. Methodically. Who would have thought this is the kind of Friday night I’d crave.
It happens so infrequently, these trips to Stop and Shop without the kids. Normally I have both kids in one of those “car carts” with the red car attached to the front of the cart for the kids to sit in and crazily turn the wheel back and forth with such force that they nearly lurch each other out of the car, and the yellow “beepy” horn that never works which means the kids spend the entire shopping trip screaming “Beep Beep!”. Who designed these car carts anyway? Mothers, they were not. The carts weigh about 175 lbs without the kids weight inside of them. They are impossible to turn without slamming into the end of the aisle. I’ve more than once knocked over the end of aisle display with the cart which is only fun for Luke and Hannah who scream with joy as the stacks of cereal tumble down on top of the car. I’ve also nearly knocked over a few little old ladies who are taking a wide turn with their canes out of the aisle. Lucky for me they get over the collision quickly when they see the two wide-eyed kids staring up at them from the car. The car carts are also too wide to go down the check out lane. No, scratch that. They fit INTO the check out lane but with no room for me to stand next to the cart and empty the contents onto the conveyer belt which means I have to pretty much climb into the cart to get the food out, and by the time I’ve emptied it, my child on the candy side of the car has removed all of the candy from the bottom two rows of the candy display and loaded it into the car which is beyond my reach. I then have to push the car all the way through the checkout lane, past the baggers who are shaking their heads at me because they think I’m trying to shop lift 47 Hershey Bars, 33 York Peppermint Patties and 27 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
Although the designers of the car carts are less than brilliant, the merchandisers who work in the grocery store have got us moms figured out. They place all of the goodies that appeal to little kids right at car cart level. Do you think they put the Bran Flakes and Wheat Germ cereal down where their little eyes are looking? Nope. They’ve even come out with Dora the Explorer corn niblets. They cost more than the Green Giant brand but of course I have to buy them. Why can’t they at least put Dora’s face on the string beans? Don’t they know green veggies are where the real fights are?
Needless to say at 7:45 I was out the door, and in my quiet car. No radio. No talking. No listening. Just quiet. I pulled into the sparse parking lot at the grocery store and walked in. Slowly. I pulled a regular old cart out of the stack and tossed my purse into the space that usually holds Luke if Hannah isn’t with us. I’m pretty sure I was beaming. I said a warm hello to the cart guy. I probably would have stopped and had a conversation with him if he had looked at all interested.
All I needed were a few boxes of cupcake mix to make Hannah’s special eggless cupcakes for her birthday party, some coffee creamer, raisins and yogurt. But I found myself walking up and down the aisles. Picking up the fruit and actually feeling their ripeness. Looking for just the right avocados. Hand picking the tomatoes. Things I never do. I spent quality time in the organic aisle, reading ingredients, looking for some new foods for picky eater Hannah to try. I flipped through some magazines. I didn’t even know they SOLD magazines there! (And Jon Gosselin has a new 25 year old girlfriend from 5 minutes from me). I sniffed a few shampoos. Looked at some new mascaras and lipglosses and tossed another 50 hairties into the cart. Does anyone else have the same problem with losing hair ties? Where do they go? I don’t wash them so they aren’t hanging out with the lost socks and I don’t put them in the kitchen cabinets with the mysteriously disappearing tupperware tops, so there really is no explanation for their disappearance. Yet, I find myself buying about 50 a month.
And when I got through each and every aisle and found I had a full cart, I decided it was time to head home. I zipped through the checkout lane without anyone begging to push the buttons on the card swipe machine, waited patiently for the chatty bagger man to pack up all of my goods (and didn’t even get upset when he put my cans of soup on top of the loaves of bread) and exited the store. No one asked for a quarter for a plastic piece of crap from the vending machine. I didn’t have to worry about leaving one child in the cart as I put the other in the car. I just walked. Again in silence.
And I came home. Both kids sleeping. Tim drinking a beer on the couch. Everyone content. So rarely is EVERYONE content. But tonight, after a quiet alone trip to the grocery trip… I sure was. Who needs dinner and a movie anyway?