Wegmans on a Sunday, midday, is a crazy place. Craaazy. I didn't know so many people even lived here, much less shopped all at once. I tell you this this because the kids and I found ourselves there last Sunday at 2pm. Although both kids wanted to hang off the sides of the cart like trash men, I said someone had to ride in the cart because the store was just too damn crowded. They decided they both wanted to, one sitting between the other's legs, stacked back to front like a train. I pointed out that if they were both in the cart the food wasn't going to fit. "Sure it will," said Clark. "We can sit on it."
They had a blast. Seeing as my cart was 95lbs heaver than it should be, I focused on not plowing over people's ankles, so I wasn't paying much attention to the letter of their play, but jeez they were having some fun. Laughing and laughing and rocking the cart, funny faces and funny scenarios and funny rhymes. Everyones' heads turned when we passed. In every aisle. Frances happens to have the best laugh on the planet, magic chimes in her belly (seriously - someone needs to record it for advertisements) and they drew mega attention.
One woman covered her mouth to try to keep from laughing at them. As we squeezed between her and the coffee grinder she said, "I'm sorry. It's probably not helpful. I can't help it." Another person asked, "are they always this happy?" "Absolutely," I said.
At home afterwards, I marveled at how pleasant it all was. Me, two kids, Wegmans midday on a Sunday. How did we get here? It feels like a room we accidentally wandered into.
The next day my friend Emily came over with her two kids. Apparently she had spent some time wandering the extremely crowded aisles of Wegmans herself, and she described her experience in colorful detail. She did not have the miraculous and unanticipated success that I had (no one even hassled me for the free cookie! They were having too much fun to even remember!!).
Emily's description of her 23-month-old's flinging himself to the floor in the checkout line and taking the two bottom rows of candy bars with him was hilarious, and it also made me realize something: I don't remember! I don't remember. I don't remember exactly how trying it is to grocery shop with a toddler. I remember the comedy, and the anxiety about what was to come as I pulled into the parking lot, but not the dark desperation, the embarrassment, the feeling of failure.
Clark is only five and a half. I know moms forget, that somehow the human brain filters out the horrific numbing exhaustion and defeat (and the labor contractions), and keeps safe the memory of pure love and adorableness. But that quickly? It was only 3 years ago that I wrote this blog post. It hasn't been long. Although he's bigger, he still has to watch counter corners for fear of whacking his head. He's little. He still wants to be carried and sleeps with his blankie and cries if the legos won't snap together easily.
It's bizarre that our mama minds do that with so much sweep and reach. This ability is, of course, what keeps the human race from becoming extinct, but it is also why women put such pressure on each other inadvertently: they only remember the joy joy joy and can only assume you are feeling it too. Which you are. Just not at this moment in the check out line yes they are adorable thank you for saying so i'm trying to enjoy every minute yes I know it goes by so quickly no pressure there. Which makes you feel like you must be doing it all wrong for it to be so painful that you want to burst into hot tears this minute.
But you're not. Doing it wrong. And I'm not either, cuz hey look at the cool battery robots we made yesterday with a box of batteries and a glue gun! Plus, yay us we made it through Wegmans without anybody shouting or crying or even whining! I think I'll pat myself on the back for that. Pat pat.