Things are beginning to click in this new mom life.
Last week, I left Gideon home with his Papa, and I went grocery shopping alone. As I puttered through the aisles, listening to my podcast, nonchalantly tossing cans of coconut milk and heads of lettuce into my shopping cart, I paused, smiled, and said to myself: “You’ve come far, Bethany Lotulelei”.
That First Grocery Shopping Trip with Gideon
The first time we went shopping with Gideon, I was a sweaty-palmed, red-faced mess. He was less than six weeks old when we put him in his carseat, loaded the stroller into the car, and drove to our local Wal-Mart.
Once we got there, we clicked the carseat into the stroller, and leisurely walked into the store. This was as good as this particular shopping trip was going to get. We felt like we had it together. Sure I had dried spit-up streaked down my shirt, and hubby’s eyes were bloodshot, but as we pushed our baby stroller with our adorable little guy cooing away inside, we thought: this, indeed, is the American dream. Life is good. We rock at this parenthood thing, why do people say this is so hard?
We got inside, and I grabbed a cart. The plan was that Saia would push the stroller and I would grab the stuff on our shopping list, and steer the cart.
We had barely stepped inside the door before Gideon began wailing.
He was no longer happy in his carseat, and started kicking and crying with gusto. We hurriedly extracted him from his seat, littering toys and blankets all over the fruit aisle in the process. Saia held Gideon in his arms, bouncing him, and we looked at each other, helplessly.
“Okay,” I said, trying to formulate a new plan “You carry him, and I’ll get the groceries”. I turned towards the cart and ran straight into our stroller. Oh boy, What to do with the stroller?
I detached the carseat and perched it on top of the cart. Then I folded the stroller, and attempted to shove it on the bottom of the cart. About 3/4 of it fit, the rest of it lolled out of the cart precariously. Hoping that we could get this increasingly odious errand done quickly. I swung the cart around, the metal groaning under the weight, and began hurriedly throwing vegetable after vegetable in the cart as Saia followed after me carrying our whimpering infant.
I swept through the store like a hurricane, leaving very little in my path. With every aisle I became more frantic–my palms began to sweat, my hair became disheveled, my stomach clenched. Every time I slowed down, my baby boy would let out a cry, and I would move faster. The cart got fuller, and fuller, and fuller.
As excruciating an experience as it was turning out to be, I wasn’t looking forward to repeating the process any time soon, so I decided then and there to buy as much food as possible so that we wouldn’t have to return for weeks. I tossed three gallons of milk in the cart, two whole chickens, 36 taco shells, two bags of apples, five bags of salad, six cans of coconut milk. I kept tossing item after item until the food towered above the cart, with the carseat teetering on the top, and the stroller dragging on the floor underneath.
It became harder and harder to make turns pushing that monstrosity.
We were in the chip aisle, and I was trying to wedge a family size container of mixed nuts into my cart, and Saia was jiggling Gideon who was just about done with this whole experience, when who should round the corner but Mr. M. He was a distinguished professor at our alma mater, and it was in his class in which I met Saia for the first time.
He stepped into the aisle, and in one deft glance he took in the situation–our cart shuddering under the weight of a month’s worth of food, me still pale from my C-section studying food labels, and Saia anxiously bouncing an eight-pound little baby. Mr. M looked at us kindly, and said simply: “Kids, how’s it going?” I just about bawled right there, but I figured that I was still hanging on to a scrap of my pride, and so I held it together. We said hello briefly to him, and tried to finish up our shopping.
As I was just coming out of the last aisle, I ran into an old college chum. She and I had been not much more than acquaintances, but she was someone that I admired. She had just come from work, and was still wearing a beautiful professional outfit, with her hair up in a neat twist. She had precisely four items in her tidy cart. I rounded the corner in a huge arc, the wheels of my cart screeching, and stopped right in front of her. “Bethany?” She said, tenuously, almost as if she was unsure of whether she should stop or not. “Hello!” I said breathlessly, wishing I could hide behind my mountainous cart. “How are you?” she asked, peering at me. “Oh, ha ha. You know…” I said, trying to form a sentence. When just then, my husband rounded the corner and ran straight into me, and I ran into the cart. Thankfully, my friend demurred politely and went on with her shopping, with a backward glance. Leaving us to speed straight away for the checkout before running in to anyone else.
Never again will I attempt taking an infant, a stroller, a car seat, and a husband shopping. You’ll find me shopping on my own these days, with a Starbucks cup in my hand, a loopy grin on my face, and looking calm as can be.