For a while now I’ve been questioning the extent of advanced technology and the ability of stores to infiltrate shoppers’ minds on a very deep level. And by shoppers, I mean children. My children especially.
My kids are somewhat well behaved. OK, fine, at least most 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! All of a sudden and out of nowhere it starts. My sweet little children exit the car, and as they enter the store they instantly 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 swear you can see their pupils dilate as soon as they spot the automatic sliding doors and fluorescent lights. Weird, right?
I don’t like public attention of any kind, and 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?!
But between you and me, I deserve it. Shopping with my kids is nothing but a payback for every single time I stared down an unruly child in a store aisle or questioned the competency of a mother that had lost it two aisles down.
I get it now.
My own children have a plethora of bad, worse, and the worst behavior on display, and they’re always finding new ways to embarrass me.
You name it, they’ve probably done it.
And thoroughly enjoyed it.
When you feel like you’ve failed not just yourself but the whole society during just another torturous stroll through a grocery store, nothing can make you feel more worthless than meeting HER.
The Perfect Mother.
And so I met her.
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 which sounded a little too familiar. Then there was hitting, pinching, and screaming about 10 seconds into their disagreement and, inevitably, dual crying and minor bruising. 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. There was a striking similarity of the temporary spellbound madness that I’ve grown to accept, but the difference between us was the grace and poise she handled her boys with.
She was completely calm and collected.
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 almost contagious.
When one of her boys behind his 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 Mother made the little boy apologize in a perfect way and continued to elegantly float through the store.
I stared a little.
Her kids were wild, loud, and completely out of control. She was unfazed and completely in balance with the Universe, smiling at everyone around her. Naturally, I decided to stalk follow her.
How could a human being sustain that kind of pressure?
If it were me, I would have lost it by then about a two million times for sure.
Not her. She didn’t even lose it once. She filled up her cart and happily chased her boys who started a game of football with some canned soup after she told them NO 42 times.
Still drawn to her, acting all but inconspicuous and forgetting to shop, I couldn’t stop trailing behind.
I think she caught onto that when she paused to talk to me while I was busy pretending to read the label on a jar of pickled pigs’ feet. 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 icon of motherly perfection disappeared right about the time my 4-year-old discovered a sticky spill on the floor. And tripped and fell right in it. Because of course.
Only a split second…
The Perfect Mother was gone.
I looked around to no avail. I could no longer hear her boys either which was odd. It was literally as if the three of them had just vanished.
Were they beamed home???
I could just picture the Perfect Mother engulfed in a timeless beacon of a bright light. Just a few feet away, dissolving back into her true form of pale rippled skin, 4 legs, 6 tentacle arms, complete with a bulbous head and 3 dark bulging eyes. So foreign yet so familiar, so far but still within arm’s reach, her aura emitting a glow of the two cornerstones of intergalactic intelligence – love and empathy.
Now that would actually explain her placid temper…
In that case, apples and oranges my friends. Human moms can’t compete with a perfectly tuned up alien genetic footprint. Instant relief.
Missing her forever but feeling better instantly, I put the last few items into the shopping cart and paid as I exchanged pleasantries with the cashier.
As we exited the store, over the multitude of paper bags that didn’t stack very well, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face.
And of something glorious.
I came to a standstill.
There she was.
The Perfect Mother that made me take a detour and buy the extra bottle of wine that wasn’t on my list.
Except she didn’t seem as graceful anymore with her face turned bright red while screaming frantically at the top of her lungs and beating both of her kids on the back seat of her car with the loaf of bread that I forgot to purchase.
I loved her instantly.
She was a perfectly fine, probably equally stressed and maybe completely exhausted human being like me, trying a new approach that seemed to have failed to work.
It made me realize that we all deserve more hugs.
Parenting is not always easy.
We work hard!
Many times we fail.
Yet, we never stop trying.
If you ever have a meltdown in public and a stranger with unbrushed long hair comes over to give you a hug, well, nice to meet you… I didn’t hug this mom, but I think I’ll hug the next.