This morning I packed up both girls and dragged the three of us out in the pouring rain before 8:30 a.m. to do a major grocery shop. I'm not sure you appreciate what a big deal this is. I try to avoid, at all costs, taking both girls with me alone to the "big" grocery store to do heavy-duty shopping. I mean, the potential for disaster is enormous. The store is huge; therefore, it takes a lot of time to cover the necessary ground--and everyone knows that when you're shopping with a preschooler and a baby, time is of the essence. Also, you have to bag your own groceries there. Yup, that's just what I need when I finally make it, sweating and frenzied, up to the checkout with my huge cart of food and two children still young enough to do things like discard their shoes in the produce section and experience sudden potty emergencies: a mountain of groceries piled up on the conveyer belt and the strangely impossible task of fitting them all into bags that then also fit back into my cart, while other shoppers line up behind me impatiently, eyeing the river of saliva my baby is wiping all over the cart handle with the hand she has been sucking on while she cries over her emerging teeth.
Which is why I generally either a.) do the big grocery shopping alone, myself, on a weekend, or b.) duck into the small, manageable, neighborhood grocery store (where they bag FOR you) during the week with one or both girls, picking up just a few things at a time, even though it's more expensive.
Today, though, I needed to stock up on everything, and it couldn't wait, so off we went to Cub. Did I mention the rain? And when we got there, they were out of "driving carts", the ones that allow the girls to sit up front in a big plastic ride-in car hooked onto the cart, turning their little plastic steering wheels happily while I work really hard at not running everyone down in the aisles. So no fun was to be had; Genevieve had to sit in the front of a cart the normal way, and Julia had to walk. And we ran all over the store hunting down catfood and crackers and sunscreen and string cheese--just about every item you could possibly imagine--stuffing our cart top and bottom while I willed myself not to think about the self-bagging ordeal to come, and we did it all in less than an hour, while the rain poured down outside and I also willed myself not to think about getting us all back out of the store and to our car through the rain, no hands free for umbrellas this time, rain pouring down on babies and bananas alike.
And I couldn't help but think about how, back when I had just one baby, I would have told you I could never take two little ones to a huge superstore by myself, load up on three weeks' worth of groceries, keep everyone happy and accounted for, bag everything and heft everyone back to the car in the pouring rain. I would have told you I could barely get out the door once per day with my colicky infant to go around the block in the stroller. I would have told you that the mundane events of motherhood were beyond my capabilities, and that it felt as though it would never be any different. And yet here I am today, and it's not as though taking two kids to the store is such a remarkable feat--truly, parents everywhere do it every day--but when you stop and reflect on the long view, even those daily non-events have something to say about never saying never.
And here's another thing: the only way I was able to do all that shopping with both girls in tow is that I had a spare chewy granola bar in my bag, that in desperation I scrounged up and unwrapped and gave to Genevieve so she would stop crying about being strapped into the cart WITHIN FIVE MINUTES OF ENTERING THE STORE. If you think I was letting Julia snack on processed, sugary, packaged granola bars (with nuts! NUTS, people!) in the grocery store at 8:40 in the morning when SHE was 20 months old, you didn't know me then. So there you have it. Never say never.