I was reclining in the chair, at the dentist, a drill was grading away at my tooth when I realized that I was way more relaxed in that moment than when I’m pushing a cart filled with groceries and two kids. It was so relaxing to just lounge there and not do anything. I don’t know if this was a great realization or a tragic one.
I remember that first grocery trip as a mom of two, and I still get sweaty palms just thinking back on it. There’s so many decisions to make while picking out groceries. Then there’s the crowd of other casual shoppers sans kids who seems to be in a totally different minds space. The cart is never big enough for two small people and all the food. Someone will need to use the bathroom or eat or both. One or both kids will lick the cart or grab items off the shelf, most likely both will happen. Both are annoying, one is gross.
When my friend Helena told me she was deciding between going grocery shopping with her newborn and toddler, or to the park I let her know I needed to go grocery shopping too! With slight hesitation, I suggested we go shopping together, then take the kids to the park. I hesitated because it never occurred to me to invite another mom to go grocery shopping. What’s the worse that could happen?
Evidently this invite was exactly what we both needed in our lives. We met up to shop like two co-workers showing up for a meeting. We planned our route through the store and set our expectations about how we’ll split up and then meet up, but we’d never hesitate to text for backup. Just knowing we were in this together, even though sometimes in separate aisles helped calm our minds. It was not perfect, but it was wonderful.
We are co-laborers, co-workers, co-mommers. Why not meet up to do the hard things together? Even if “hard” gets redefined to all the normal stuff we did pre-kids. I remember strolling through my prefered grocer on a Saturday when I wasn’t a mom, and taking my time. I didn’t love it then, but I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t hard. It was a function. Now it’s hard and a function of survival. I haven’t researched this, but I’m pretty sure groups did not go hunting and gathering alone. So why go grocery shopping alone?
In multi-family homes, 70% of people grocery shoppers are women. I must share that Tyler is an awesome grocery shopper and does lots of weekly trips for us. I love when he comes home with extra fun stuff to eat. His bounty actually represents his enjoyment for grocery shopping. Mine is all form and function. Anyway, back to moms and shopping with kids, each time I pass a mom with young kids in a cart I stop myself from high-fiving her. Next time I should, and I should recommend that she calls her friend to meet up in aisle nine.
Helena and I shopped for about 40 minutes, which evidently is two minutes below the average time women take to grocery shop, and within that time between the two of us there was one potty break, two crying kids, and two snack times. At one point I lost Helena and she wasn’t answering her texts. I didn’t panic. I just kept strolling on like Pete The Cat. Then I found her sitting in an Adirondack chair. Not a complimentary chair for nursing moms, but for sale chair in the outdoor aisle. She wasn’t testing to buy, she was nursing her newborn. Her toddler was swiping through family photos on her iPhone. We just rolled into the scene like cool cats and began chatting. My son chatted with her son and me with Helena. I was baby wearing, she was baby feeding and we had each other’s back. We decided our hunting and gathering was done for the day and it was time to check-out and get to the playground.
That was a success co-momming meeting. I’d do that again. Thanks, Helena. You’re the best.
P.S. Women do 51% of the grocery shopping But when was the last time you were at a grocery store and saw a mommy & child space complete with a nursing area and some crayons and coloring books for big sister or brother? The average shopping time of 41 minutes for women, that’s not saying with or without kids, is a long time for little minds and bellies. Maybe there can be a change in the grocery store experience for moms with kids? For now, invite your friend.