Some of my favorite moments happen in the grocery store.
This one actually began in the grocery store parking lot. I pulled in and got out of the car. From the corner of my eye, I noticed that there was a woman by the car next to me, pulling an young toddler from her car seat and putting her into the part of the shopping cart where you can strap in a baby. In the back of the cart was an older boy.
I didn’t look too closely and headed toward the store. I didn’t make it far because she called out my name. I turned around to find my neighbor with her almost one year old and almost three year old in the cart. The three year old was jumping around and telling me something very important, which I found hard to understand. I agreed with him and the four of us went into the grocery store.
I moved a little quicker than them, being unencumbered with young children, but every timeI looked back or turned into a new aisle, I would see them again. Every time, the three year old boy would be jumping around and would stop because he saw me, and then go on to tell me something extremely important, which I had trouble understanding. Each time, I thanked him for sharing the news with me.
Meanwhile, my neighbor, who is a psychotherapist and a lovely person, laughed every time she saw me. She apologized for her son, who needed no apology, and she pointed out the two bottles of wine she had stashed under the cart, where the boy could not get to it.
“When my husband asks me what I did today, my answer will be, ‘I went to the grocery store and I came home.’ That’s it,” she says. I know that isn’t true because she is always out playing with her kids and taking them for walks when I’m outside. And I hear her in her backyard, which abuts mine, playing with her dogs.
When she apologized about her son, I reminded her that not that long ago, I was like her, with two kids under three, trying to get basic life things done and barely getting by.
As stressful as those times were, trying to make a life while I was constantly changing diapers and bringing roaming kids back to a place where I could see them and stopping them from shouting in quiet places, etc., etc., etc., I had this strong urge to say to her, enjoy this. They are only small for the blink of an eye.
But I didn’t. Because I remember how annoying I found it when older mothers said it to me. Didn’t they see how difficult this was? Didn’t they remember? When do I get my glass of wine?
Now I am back home, in my house that will be an empty nest next September, and remembering my kids at ages one and three and realizing that while they have matured and look different and no longer make my life difficult physically, they are not that different, personality-wise from who they were early on.
I’m thinking that my neighbor’s son might grow up to be a politician or a negotiator. I believe I agreed with him and thanked him for sharing every word he said, each time we passed each other in the grocery store.
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