My kids are somewhat well behaved. At least most of the time. OK some of the time.
Until we enter a store.
At any given time.
Grocery stores, however, are THE absolute WORST.
It’s as if there is a frequency that switches their defiant genes <ON> right there at the entrance. Bam! I swear you can see their pupils dilate as soon as they spot the automatic sliding doors and fluorescent lights.
Instantly, my kids transform into a pair of overstimulated raving maniacs. Singing, crying, laughing, crying, screaming, crying, hugging, crying, all while being obnoxiously loud and moving incredibly fast.
I don’t like public attention of any kind. In this day and age when no one is just a face in the crowd, I can’t help but wonder whether the stores’ face recognition cameras remember MY face?!
When you feel like you’ve failed not just yourself but the whole society during yet another torturous stroll through a grocery store, nothing can make you feel more worthless than meeting HER.
The Perfect Mom.
She had two little boys with her that seemed to be a handful.
At first they were fighting over who gets to sit where in the shopping cart and who gets to hang over which side. Then there was hitting, pinching, and screaming about 10 seconds into their disagreement and, inevitably, dual crying. And then they started to run, jump, and do somersaults in the produce section because, well I don’t know.
I glanced at the mom as our paths crossed.
She was completely calm and collected.
The polar opposite of me.
No hot mess face, zero crazy eyes. A thorough capture of Zen.
She spoke softly, acted gently, and love, piece and warmth radiated out of her.
It was contagious, too.
When one of her boys behind the pint-sized shopping cart rammed into me from behind, I wasn’t even mad. “Oh, honey, it’s perfectly OK that you’ve just severed my Achilles tendon, look, it’s only bleeding a little. I can limp just fine, see?”
The Perfect Mom made the little boy apologize in a perfect way and continued on.
When I say that her kids were wild, loud, and completely out of control, I’m not exaggerating. Still, she was unfazed and in balance with the Universe, smiling at everyone around her.
Naturally, I decided to stalk follow her.
She kept filling her cart while chasing her boys who had started a game of football with some canned soup after she had kindly told them NO! 42 times.
She obviously caught onto me trailing behind and cornered me while I was busy reading the label on a jar of pickled pigs’ feet, every vegetarian’s dream.
With a genuinely warm smile, she commented on the two wrestling monkeys with pigtails that shared about a half of my DNA, saying how adorable and pretty they were. So sweet.
And then poof…
The Perfect Mom was gone.
Right about the time my 4-year-old discovered a sticky spill on the floor. And tripped and fell right in. Because of course.
I helped my daughter up and went on to grab the last few items left on my shopping list before heading to the register. I looked around one last time as I exchanged pleasantries with the cashier but couldn’t spot the three of them.
But then just as we had exited the store I caught a glimpse of a familiar face.
And of something glorious.
There she was. The Perfect Mom.
Except she didn’t seem as graceful anymore with her face turned bright red, screaming frantically at the top of her lungs inside her car and pounding her boys with the loaf of bread I forgot to purchase.
I loved her instantly.
And it made me realize one thing: we all need more hugs.
This parenting gig? It’s the best we’ll ever have.
But dang it can get hard and lonely sometimes…