stacked-shopping-cartsI…. hate….. grocery shopping. From the time my son was an infant, I’ve had this anxiety about going shopping with children in tow. Back then it was because he was a ticking time-bomb ready to blow in a fit of screams to let the entire store know he was hungry. Let me just say, thank goodness for Stop and Shop’s SCAN IT; I’m not really sure how I would have survived that first year without it.

As time went on, I was able to appease him by either bringing food and drink with us, or letting him dive into a bag a Goldfish I was going to purchase, even though I (laughingly) swore I would never do that. Enter his little sister who was so good and quiet (at the time) that one time I accidentally, momentarily, forgot her in the cart as I started to take my son to the bathroom. Luckily for her, she has a good big brother who noticed she had begun to cry and gently reminded me that we should probably take her with us.

When my son went to preschool, it was like a whole new world. I never thought grocery shopping with one child could be so easy, you know, comparatively speaking. But even that presented its own challenges as I only had a finite amount of time to do the shopping, get the groceries home, and put them away before I had to turn around and pick him up from school.

Fast forward to today, where I’ve been so used to doing the grocery shopping on my own while both kids are at school, again only in the small amount of time that my daughter is at preschool. But now it’s summer and I have both children with me when I shop. And it’s a living nightmare. If I had the energy to go shopping at night after my husband gets home from work, I would. But I don’t.

I push the cart down the aisles, trying my best to keep my children from wreaking havoc and I pass other parents doing the same. The look on their faces, I can only imagine, must mirror my own. That look says, “I long for the days when these kids were small enough to be trapped in their child seat, or in one of those annoying, germ-filled carts with the car on the front even though it meant they would almost definitely come down with a cold the next day.”

Kids make grocery shopping so difficult. They pick stuff up off of the shelves, they don’t pay attention to where they’re going and run into people and displays, they “help” push the cart by hanging on it, making it just that much harder for me to lug down the aisle. Everything they do probably annoys me ten times more than it annoys the people around me, but it still stresses me out.

Then, like adding insult to injury, there is always that one person I keep passing down every aisle. At first, we may give each other a friendly smile, or they may say how cute my kids are, but with every time we pass each other I can feel the animosity growing. They always seem to need the same exact items I do, and they refuse to move out of my way. I want to scream, “Hey! There’s three of us and one of you, so why don’t you move?!” I try to skip an aisle to get away from them, but they somehow find me anyway.

I finally reach what I think is the end of the Shopping Trip from Hell, only to realize that I forgot to get something. Then I have to make the decision – do I go back and get it, or do I say screw it? I think you can probably guess which one I choose.

Needless to say, I am quite looking forward to my first leisurely shopping trip while both of my children are at school for seven glorious hours and I don’t have to worry about rushing around. I can stroll through the store, quietly smiling to myself as I pass Moms with small children, getting all of the things on my list, and remembering to use all of the coupons that I brought so I don’t have to go back to store later to claim my dollar. Until I realize that I’m spending my “free” time shopping. Then the smile will quickly fade away.

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