By Kelsey Cadger of kelseycadger.com
The grocery store is a magical place.
And by that, I mean that the second I step through those doors armed with my grocery list and mental map of the quickest possible route to get everything I need, my children go from being nice, relatively reasonable humans to tiny demons. With two under two, someone is always crying (and more often than not, it’s me).
If you’ve ever battled the grocery store with a toddler and a newborn, you’ll be familiar with these god-awful stages of grocery shopping.
1. Accept your fate.
You’re on day three of throwing together questionable meals from an increasingly scarce fridge. You have put off the inevitable and now you need to just bite the bullet and do it.
I mean, how bad could it really be?
2. Lose 5 years of your life getting the kids ready and packing up the car so you can make the 6-minute drive to the store.
Approximately two hours before you need to be in the car, start getting your toddler ready with one hand while nursing the baby with the other. Get pants on your toddler, which is basically the equivalent of wrestling an angry and surprisingly limber honey badger. Except with more flying limbs.
Strap them both into their car seats while negotiating with your toddler on how many toys they can bring into the store with them.
3. Find the only available parking spot way off in the outskirts of the lot with barely enough room to open your car doors to get yourself and the kids out.
Unload kids and wrangle your toddler into the cart while securing the baby in the carrier. Feel a surge of confidence as you see your toddler’s sweet face light up as she settles into the cart, her little legs dangling happily. Toddler announces that she is a sparkly unicorn and wants you to look at her fancy tail hanging from the seat.
Enter the store heroically. Let’s do this.
4. Refer to your list and meticulously planned route, which will allow you to get in and out as quickly as possible. You’re on a mission here.
Shit. You forgot your list. We’re winging it here, folks!
12 seconds in and the cart ride has lost its magic. The toddler now wants to get out and run. Your baby has decided to sing you the song of his people, like a miniature pterodactyl. How do the smallest humans have the most impressive lung power?
5. Make it down half an aisle before your toddler starts grabbing everything.
Everything is up for grabs. Literally. Wait, how did the toddler get a bottle of mustard? Scan your cart frantically for something you can replace this with as you pry it out of her hands. Watch her snag a bag of rice and ponder how she can manage to reach everything on the shelves but screams for you to grab her book whenever it’s more than two inches from her hand.
6. Lecture children as you remain outwardly calm. On the inside? SWEATING BULLETS.
You make the mistake of trying to reason with your completely rational little humans. This tactic is completely successful, obviously.
7. Let the meltdowns begin (theirs and yours).
Your toddler locks eyes with another of her kind, who brandishes a flashy orange cheese stick. Toddler now realizes that she doesn’t have a cheese stick of her own and reacts accordingly. You start to feel your anxiety level rise and the sweat pours from your forehead as you bolt towards the bakery to snag a cheesy, carb-filled silencer. You wish you could give the screeching baby one as well, but he’ll have to settle for his soother that you cram into his mouth for the 146th time.
The 36 seconds of calm that follow make you feel like you have this whole parenting thing under control.
8. Speed shop through this emotional roller coaster.
Bolt through the aisles as fast as possible while they’re both still relatively content. Kick yourself again for forgetting your list, abandon all hope and just start grabbing whatever you can remember as fast as possible. Turn around with a head of lettuce to see your toddler licking the grocery cart handle. Wonder if you remembered to sanitize it before putting her in. Then remember the garbage can that she licked yesterday and safely assume she’ll be fine.
Reminisce about the good old days when this exact excursion took you 1/100th of time and effort.
9. Make a beeline for the shortest checkout line.
HELLO LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS INEXPLICABLY LONG TUNNEL.
The ticking time bomb strapped to your chest has just realized that he hasn’t eaten in about 35 minutes. He squawks at you, which you’re pretty sure translates to “this soother isn’t cutting it, lady.” You can feel him start to squirm around and you try to keep your cool but on the inside? You’re freaking out.
Also, you’re pretty sure he blew out his diaper in aisle 7, but you’ve come this far. There’s no going back now.
10. Bribe your (other) inconsolable child.
By now the toddler has realized that we aren’t moving. Attempt to distract her with your keys, wallet, hair elastic, and anything else you can pull out of your purse (which we all know is really just a diaper bag.)
People are staring and your panic is apparent. Avoid eye contact. Open a box of crackers from your cart and shove them towards your toddler, abandoning your pre-children idea of who you thought you’d be as a parent. You just want to get out of here.
11. Get back to the car as fast as possible.
Armed with two fistfuls of crackers, your toddler is happy as can be and making faces to entertain the now pleasant baby.
You? You feel like you’ve just run a marathon or two while getting run over by a rather large truck. Silently vow that you’re never doing that ever again.
12. Until next time.
Try to figure out what you’re going to make for dinner with a head of lettuce, a half-eaten box of crackers, a third of a cheese stick, rice, and a bottle of mustard.
13. Look back at your happy, sleeping children and feel overwhelmed with love and gratitude.
This whole motherhood thing is something else.
About the Author
Kelsey lives on beautiful Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. She is a teacher turned full-time Mom to two tiny humans. She spends her free time freelance writing and loves exploring the outdoors with her wonderful husband, kids, and dog. https://kelseycadger.com