Walking through the grocery store I decided to take my time. I only had one kid with me, but that didn’t matter. It was the difficult kid. The two year old. She is IM-POSS-IBLE in all the places that require shopping carts. It didn’t matter that I only needed a few things. It was still going to take at least an hour. This is because I was letting The Whiner walk instead of forcing her to sit in the cart solely because of my less-than-stellar parenting tactics. The parenting tactics that don’t care about discipline and fighting anymore because she’s the fourth kid and there isn’t any resolve left. When forced to sit in the cart there is crying which leads to screaming which leads to mommy opening unpaid-for groceries to shove in the open mouth from whence all the noise cometh. Sometimes there is standing. And sometimes I don’t care. I am willing to get the death-look from all the employees because WHY DON’T YOU INSTALL A CHILDCARE SYSTEM BECAUSE I CANNOT EVEN BEGIN TO CONTROL THIS CHILD! That’s why. But usually I get pity and looks of pure empathy from those saintly beings that roam the grocery store: my teammates, my comrades, my sisters. The other mothers. They get me. So whatever.
Well on this particular day of dawdling through the store, I passed the same mother. Over and over. She was all cute and put together. She had two kids with her. They were both sitting in their cart. Minding their manners. Like little cherub angels.
Every time they passed (because we were going about the same pace but in opposite aisle directions so it kept happening) she would glance toward little Miss Blonde Busy-Body and it was becoming clear that this particular mother was not in Club Passive Parenting. She was not my comrade. We were not sisters. She was one of the Housewives of Perfectville, and she did not approve of my freelancing this mommy gig.
Whatever. I don’t even have time to care about that. I’m just trying to make sure my offspring doesn’t knock over that shelf of canned peas and/or get abducted. Stare all you want.
The torture of slow shopping finally ended. I hoisted Sassy Britches into the cart ( because my parenting uselessness has boundaries after all) and headed out to the parking lot. Stepford Mama was not far behind. I got to the Mom-Mobile, opened the back door and started loading groceries into the back only to hear a female voice. “Excuse me, Ma’am?”
It was Penny Perfect. With her two Mini-Perfects. Standing at my van probably wanting to offer me condolences for the death of my maternal determination. Possibly a hug. Maybe I had misjudged this mother after all. What was it that she wanted to offer me, the frazzled being? Coffee? Money to hire a babysitter next time? The phone number of her therapist?
“That’s my van you’re loading your groceries into.”
There is no end to this day. It can not ever end.
I looked up to see that indeed I was loading my groceries into a van that was the exact same make/model/color as my van. Except hers was clean and had fresh dry-cleaning hanging across the seat. Because people like that pay to have their clothes professionally laundered.
And my van was two spaces away. With my name on the back. Because I am that brilliant.
There is a deep, spiritual moral to this story. It is this: somedays it’s best to stay home. Because if you leave the house you are going to look like an idiot. Wait until tomorrow when God’s mercy is new again. You need it. Long live pizza delivery.