When my first gave up taking her morning nap, I used to drop my husband off on campus and spend a weekday morning going to three different grocery stores. I saved money that way, plus it was the way to pass a morning as a stay at home mom of a baby. Then I had two children to take to the grocery store, and shopping only happened at one store, sometimes two. When we got to our third child, grocery shopping became an even bigger ordeal, so much so that I switched my grocery shopping to Saturdays and left all three at home. These past two weekends, my husband has had some yard work to do, so he asked me to take “the baby” who happens to be 22 month old now (how old is too old to call the youngest “the baby”?). I was transported back to life with just a one year old, and it was very sweet.
After making my list, last Saturday, I set out with F in her car seat, planning to stop at three stores. I popped Late to Love by Sam Rocha into the CD player and we jammed on our way. (F likes to sing along, “Show mEEEEE!!”)
Our first store (bulk, club shopping) was a breeze. She was cheerful, talkative, and interested in the food, “Cheese! Raisins! Apples!” It was cute and fun. And when she got bored of the food, I let her figure out how to work her buckle. We checked out, and headed out to the car. With her safely strapped into the cart I was able to bag into the trunk without children running around the parking lot, and then I had only one child to put back into the car.
We headed onto the next store. It is a small store, but often has better prices than our club, so I get a lot of our weekly staples there. We were in and out in about 20 minutes, plus once again I had no children to reign in during bagging. At this point she got hungry, so I did something I have never done before. I sat in the back seat eating chips with her. Sometimes string cheese does the trick, but today I went for the chips that I had already splurged on. Food cheers a kid (and a mom) up, and it gave us stamina for the next store. We even had a conversation about dirty hands, yummy chips, and “wawa cups.”
Then to the next store. The thing I like about bringing a cart riding, slightly verbal child to the store with me is that I can mutter quietly about what I need to get without getting funny looks. If I shop alone and say out loud, “We just need pasta and vinegar now,” people wonder, but if I talk to my one year old, no one even notices. At our third store, the did not have the special kind of whole wheat egg noodles that I love for my chicken soup, so we decided to stop at a fourth store. We could not leave, however, until F had requested and received her “dog ticker” from the cashier, who completely understood her request.
In the fourth store, I let F walk into since we only needed one item. She toddled happily up the aisles and look tiny next to the tall shelves. She helped me grab the pasta off the shelf and carried it to the check out. She then insisted on carrying the bag out to the car, one hand clutching the bag the other hand my own hand. We arrived home to her happy sisters and my husband, who were all eating lunch before their afternoon outing. F joined them in eating while I did the chore of unloading the car and putting everything away.
After lunch, we waved goodbye to everyone, and F and I set in on unloading the dishwasher. It threw me back four years to unloading the dishwasher with my eldest. The utensil rack all in a jumble, and a determined and delighted child, happy to be helping Mama. I could not get over how nice it was to spend time with her one on one. She supervises me most days when I am fixing lunch and dinner, but after the hours spent with her all morning I was able to appreciate spending a whole day with her without her sisters.
Naptime was a breeze as all I had to do was put her down and she was asleep for several hours. I got to exercise, work on other things, without the distractions. When she woke up and everyone was still out we set about folding the bed sheets that I had laundered the day before.
She watched me closely and did her best to
wad fold up the sheets and lay them in a stack. When the folding was empty, she took delight in the empty laundry basket. First, she pushed her doll around in the basket, and then she insisted that I push her. Climbing into the basket, she stated, “Push me!” So, I did. I pushed her back and forth across the rug, and then spun the basket around and around. F starred at the ceiling watching the room spin and then decided to check this room spinning thing out for herself. “All done!” she told me as she climbed out of the basket, and standing next to it, tried spinning it herself. After a slight turning of the basket, she looked up to see if that ceiling was at it again, spinning, spinning. She tried this again and again, until she gave up.
Then we headed to the kitchen to work on dinner. During our preparations everyone else came home, and our day spent together was over.