Now that I am home full-time, I get to go grocery shopping whenever I want to. I usually go during the week (early morning) because it’s less crowded. Or after Madeline’s Gymboree Play & Learn class so we can hit up the awesome deli and food area at Whole Foods for lunch. During the week, I usually have to go to at least three grocery stores to get everything I want. Four, if I need Korean food ingredients.
Usually when we go, and it’s always at Trader Joe’s because they have the little shopping carts for little kids with a flag that says, “Customer in Training.” Madeline knows the drill know and she knows when we go to Trader Joe’s, she will get to push around her own cart. A cart that is her size and . . . red.
Because she’s pushing the cart, and I have to watch her, if we are only there to get a few things, I put everything in her small cart. If I need to get a lot, forget it. It’s a mess because I’m pushing my own cart, watching her, helping her navigate through the aisles, hoping she doesn’t knock into anyone and am constantly taking things out of her cart (things that she has dropped in there on her own) and apologizing to people because we’re taking up too much space in the aisle or causing a commotion.
One day, when we were at Trader Joe’s, it was a pretty typical shopping day but this day- for whatever reason- I was more stressed out and feeling like everyone was giving me dirty looks for allowing my 2 year old to push around her own cart, peruse through the produce aisle and happily drop fruit or vegetables into her cart, which I proceeded to take out and put back. One man gave me a very disapproving look.
Since we go shopping during the week and mostly in the early mornings, most of the customers there with us are older, Grandpas and Grandmas and I’m assuming other people who either work from home or don’t work. We will also see some fellow mothers there with children (who are also pushing around the same small/red carts). So, on this awesome day, Madeline was a little more out of control than usual and like I said, I was stressed out for some reason. I was trying to get in and out quickly but Madeline wanted to walk around, socialize, get a food sample, check out what products were new. . you know. .
We finally get to the cashier to check out. I am flustered and again, trying to watch Madeline (we don’t have a large cart I can strap her in and she will not be held today). Another mother comes by and asks if we are finished with the “customer in training” cart and I tell her to take it. This, of course, upsets Madeline greatly so I have to whip out gummy snacks or crackers to settle her down. In my frustration, I say to the cashier, “You know, you guys should really get rid of the little shopping carts. They might be bothersome to the other customers.” I said some other stuff that I don’t really remember but it was all regarding getting rid of these little shopping carts so they wouldn’t be there anymore and I wouldn’t have to have a stressful time grocery shopping.
The cashier looked at me kindly (and a little like I was crazy) and simply replied, “Well, no one has ever complained about them and we think the kids enjoy them and the other customers seem to be fine with them.” Because I was already stressed out, I felt like she was telling me to chill out. This was probably all in my head. But then I got to thinking, why am I so stressed out?
I’m freaking grocery shopping. With my 2 year old kid. Sometimes, she is going to grab a banana or something and drop it into her cart. Sometimes she might accidentally bump into your cart and then say, “sorry.” She’s freaking 2 years old.
Today, we were at Trader Joe’s again, doing our thing. And Madeline almosts runs into an elderly lady pushing her grocery cart. I immediately apologize and move Madeline out of the way and the kind woman says, “Oh, you’re fine sweetie. She’s not doing a thing. Don’t even worry about it.”
How other people perceive me, my parenting skills and my daughter at the grocery store is a bad example but I’ve learned now: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
There are bigger and more important things to think about and focus on.
And I’m going to shop and take care of my business.
If you ever see a mother in the grocery store struggling or trying to wrangle her wild kid, please don’t give dirty, disapproving looks. Just move on or help her.