When my youngest, Mr. B, finished potty training, I couldn’t wait to purge my house of all things diaper. As my caboose, Mr. B’s completion of this toddler rite of passage marked the first time in more than nine years when I would not need to purchase diapers during my weekly outings to Target.
I remember the first time after Mr. B’s potty training that I barreled down the brightly lit linoleum floors, the excitement building as he and I approached the aisle where the Pampers and Huggies live. But as we came closer, I couldn’t help myself. I slowed down. I didn’t make a full stop or even turn in, but I reduced my pace enough so I could steal a glance of the purple, yellow and turquoise packages in all their shapes and sizes.
As I passed the boxes of diapers by, I breathed in and I breathed out. Then I smiled. I turned to Mr. B who was sitting in the cart in front of me and said, “We don’t need those diapers anymore!” His smile beamed back at me proudly. While my girls completed the toilet training thing swiftly and easily, both my boys presented with their share of difficulties, and Mr. B was excited to now be doing it right. Or maybe he was just happy to finally be getting the pirate ship I promised him once he mastered the potty.
After twenty minutes of back and forth in the toy aisle deciphering which pirate ship was indeed the best to get and why, we arrived at checkout. I couldn’t wait to see the savings I would incur without those expensive diapers in my cart! As I pulled in, Mr. B started handing me things to put on the conveyor belt. I grabbed a divider to separate our loot from the person in front of me. And that’s when I saw her. She was probably just a little bit younger than me. In her cart sat an infant car seat, a toddler and a child around the age of five hung off the back. As she muddled her way through the checkout process, she kept turning to her brood, “Not now,” she would say while she unloaded another item. “Please stop,” with the next. “Watch the baby for a second while mommy pays,” she told the older ones as she got out her wallet. Her hair was pulled back in a frizzy ponytail, her clothing was rumpled, her demeanor was harried.
I couldn’t help but stare. “Wait a minute,” I thought. “Wasn’t that just me? How did I end up here with a semi-cooperative three year old in my cart, who’s wearing underwear and happily munching on goldfish crackers? Did I really just walk by the diaper aisle and NOT buy any?”
I wanted to reach out to this other mom and tell her that it does get easier. I wanted to help her load up her car while she buckled everyone into it. Instead I just caught her eye and smiled, nodded in that “I get it” way I remember receiving from other moms when I was the one juggling multiple packages with multiple bambinos. It wasn’t much, but sometimes seeing someone who understands can help ease the chaos and restore a sense of inner peace even if our surroundings are anything but calm.
As the harried mom wheeled her cart and crew of children away, I felt a little pang of nostalgia. I suddenly had a deep maternal desire to go back to that stage when I roamed Target aisles with my whole crew, praying no one would melt down, loading up on household needs as quickly as possible. I wanted to rush over to the diaper aisle and fill my cart with Pampers sizes 0 and 4, toss in some wipes and diaper pail bags too. I wanted to feel the pride I felt the one time I took all four very small kiddos to Target and left with not a tear or cross word from any of them.
But mostly, I wanted to run back to the mom I once was, trying to stay calm under the pressure of impatient fellow customers, my older two bickering, my toddler whining, my baby crying and tell her, “One day, you’ll be in line at this store with a preschooler perched in your cart, your other children busy at elementary school. Your hands will be free to unload your stuff, your lips will kiss him instead of shush him, and your eyes will look up at the struggling mom ahead and let her know she’s doing just fine.”
This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “It started in the line at the grocery store…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee http://www.findingninee.com, and co-hosted by Dawn (this week’s sentence thinker-upper) at https://www.facebook.com/dawn.skorczewski, and Nicki from Red Boots http://redboots.me.
I hardly ever take my kids to Target with me anymore (much to their dismay) because I go when they’re at school. And when I do take them they actually help find the items we need, unload the cart, pack the bags… But now I am nostalgic too for the time when they were younger! You weave such a beautiful, accurate picture of how it was then with my babies. Thanks for giving me the time to remember that again!
And gorgeous pic of your beautiful brood! So happy you’re part of FTSF! xoxo
Thank you Nicki! And thank you for hooking me up with FTSF. What a great group! While I try to do grocery errands while kids are in school whenever possible, I do admit that these days I appreciate their helpfulness. It can sometimes actually make this chore a bit more fun and efficient. Not always of course 🙂 xo
Kristi Campbell says
I am so so glad you linked this up to FTSF today. I don’t know if it’s my own partial heart-break at my son almost being done with kindergarten, but your last sentences really got to me (for real got to me with tears and everything).
“One day, you’ll be in line at this store with a preschooler perched in your cart, your other children busy at elementary school. Your hands will be free to unload your stuff, your lips will kiss him instead of shush him, and your eyes will look up at the struggling mom ahead and let her know she’s doing just fine.”
Thank you Kristi! I loved my maiden voyage with FTSF. Such a wonderful group you’ve put together! I admit I’ve cried my share of tears reading your blog, seeing my own son in yours. So I’m glad I got to return the favor to you here. Sometimes I love a few good tears when I read. Cathartic. 🙂 xo
Erika Burton says
Love this. We’ve all been there and felt empathy,exhaustion, nostalgia and love for the past and appreciation for the future. WE’LL SAID LADY!
Julie J. Severson says
Oh, I’ve been having these moments over and over lately. I just wanna give all those mamas with crying babies in the shopping cart and run away toddlers a great big hug. That kind of stuff is real life, we’re all just doing the best we can, and it all goes by too quickly. Mimi, I love your new blog and this post pulled at my heart.
Thanks so much Julie! It really does go by so quickly, even though it doesn’t always seem that way as we are going through it. And I agree, we are all just doing the best we can. That’s why I feel it’s so important for mamas to support one another. Appreciate your being here and supporting me. : )
Karen Sager says
Bullseye! (Couldn’t resist.;)) Each post is even better than the last! Keep shooting for the moon!;)
Anna Fitfunner says
My boys have been out of diapers for years, but I still get nostalgia attacks. Not just remembering the toddler years of potty training (you haven’t lived until you’ve set up a TV playing Elmo Says Boo to keep a boy sitting on the toilet!), but all of the joys and trials of the younger years. I think that we all go through this; dusting off poignant memories as we watch our children grow and fulfill their potential.
Thanks for reading Anna! I’m just starting with the phase of “dusting off poignant memories” as you so beautifully state. I think that’s why this moment hit me so strongly. It was the first time I realized, “Wow. That isn’t me anymore.” It was beautiful, weird, nostalgic and a bit sad all at once.
Beautiful post Mimi!
Thanks so much Sarah! I know you are in the adjusting to shopping with baby stage, but at least that little dude can give you the best smiles even if he can’t be helpful. : )
Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says
Yup, same here…this made me so weepy for those days of babyhood and carseats perched on the Target cart, of the little sweet-smelling head in front of me in the cart. My daughter has graduated out of the cart seat…she’s much too big a girl now. It’s kind of sad because recently when I look at her, I realize she is absolutely not a baby any more. She’s a little girl. A big little girl! But she’s a different kind of wonderful. Now she is my errand buddy and she helps find and carry the things we need, helps me pick out a summer handbag at Kohl’s, helps pick out new fruits and veggies to try at the market. So we find ourselves wistful for the baby days, but these big kid days are going to be just terrific as well! I loved your post.
Thanks so much Lisa for reading! I know what you mean about the different kind of wonderful. The other day I ran to Trader Joe’s with my 6 1/2 year old little girl. She took her own cart, did most of the unloading at check out and made sure I remembered stuff I would have otherwise forgotten! : ) She actually made my shopping more fun and efficient. Definitely a wonderful change!
This is so lovely! As have all of us, I have been the rumpled mom and the smooth-sailing one. I remember every time someone gave me a nod of understanding, a hug or words of encouragement. It made those grocery treks and Target trips and errands from hell that much better, easier and put in perspective. It is so wonderful when moms lift other moms up instead of making them feel as if they’re inadequate. Thank you for doing so!!!
Thanks so much Emily for reading and your kind words. I totally agree with you that it is so much better for moms to lift each other up rather than make them feel “inadequate,” as you so aptly write. We give so much love to our children, and it’s important that we share that love with each other too. : )
Kelly L McKenzie says
Oh what a lovely intro to you and your family. That is such a lovely photo that you posted – made it all seem that much more real to me. I remember when moms would share smiles with me as we shopped. And you’re right, it did help. A lot. Congrats on moving out of all things diaper. That’s a huge step.
Thanks so much Kelly for reading! Moving out of all things diaper and other milestones from my youngest helped me finally move forward wit my writing and my blog. I’m glad to have connected through FTSF. I look forward to sharing more words together!
Mimi! My littlest guy is 3 so I relate to this 1000 percent. Sometimes I see that mom of a 2-year-old leaning in to talk to her little one in the seat and I remember some of those sweet moment (and some of the less sweet ones). I find there are pros and cons of each stage.
Nate is still in pull ups at night but when we can 100% stop paying for diapers I will be THRILLED!
Thanks for visiting me here Nina! I totally agree that there are pros and cons to each stage. Keep me posted on when Nate’s done with nighttime pull-ups. We can celebrate with a virtual party. 🙂
Erica Pelman says
Thanks Erica! So glad you got to read this one. : )
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