I missed my daily window of opportunity to run errands, so I decided to go to the store after I picked up the big kids from school.
First mistake: shopping with three kids. I almost always regret this decision. The fear and dread that grips me is only squashed by the cruel reality of not having French vanilla creamer for my coffee in the morning. So, I lay down the ground rules:
Everybody, stays with Mommy.
Inside voices & inside feet.
The better you listen, the faster we can get outta here.
These are versions of instructions I repeat every time I attempt a grocery shop with the little people... and it almost never helps.
Right away, one of the boys is stomping in puddles in the parking lot and not paying attention around him. My trepidation rises with every step towards the building. Nonetheless, I promise a snack reward, if we all stick together.
Placing my two-year-old into the safety seat, I distract him with race car sound effects to overcome any resistance. My oldest, chats away at my left ear, waiting for my responses. I am having a hard time focusing. The five-year-old stands on the side of the shopping vehicle, throwing it off-balance, or dangles dangerously off the back, stressing me out. Walking with me, he runs ahead, and in the shopping cart, he abuses his little brother.
Of course, this makes the toddler scream. The chaos virtually erases my mental shopping list, and I can no longer remember why I came here.
Oh yeah, coffee creamer.
After looking away for a second (I know), I turn around to find my third child lying on the cold, hard floor screaming, crying, and trying to breathe all at once. I rush to him, certain that this is finally the accident that sends us to the emergency room.
Luckily, only his lip is bleeding, but now I am a useless lump on the floor in front of the freezer section, cradling my son and accepting free popsicles from a stranger.
When I regained the strength to stand up, I put my two-year-old back in the cart and snap the buckle around his waist. I had forgotten that. Rookie mistake. No more somersaults out of the grocery cart, thank you.
My three kids and I finished our errand in mutual silence that day- they, with their lime-flavored popsicles, and me, with my coffee creamer. All of us, survivors.