photo credit: @shelliecarson
I remember those places I used to love going. I'd get off work and have an hour before needing to get home or a Saturday with no plans and I would head to the lovely place of red shopping carts, dollar spots, cute clothes, and fun decor. As I entered, I would make sure and stop for some hot caffeine I could drink slowly as I walked about. Slowly enjoying my leisurely walk, browsing and putting things in my cart that I knew I needed for the house or to give as a present to someone or just stuff that looked cute.
I miss those days.
But today I decided I would try and attempt this with my 4 sons in tow. Why shouldn't I enjoy a little leisurely walk with my hot cup in hand? So I picked my kids up from school and told them that they would each get a piece of paper and a pencil. The rules were simple: no running, screaming, hands and feet to yourself. They were making a "Christmas list" to give to family. They got to go window shopping in the toy aisles (while mama walked on the main aisle glancing at cute decorations and clothes.)
Why I thought this would work is beyond me. In the first thirty seconds I should have loaded everyone back into the car and went home. It all started when I told the 7, 6 and 3 year old that the baby was finally asleep and they better not wake them up. After everyone got out of the car we start walking toward the store. One car past ours, the 3 year old yelled with every ounce of loudness expelling from his body "ROAR!!!"
There was of course a bird that needed to be scared (along with everyone in the parking lot.) Why are little boys with birds like dogs chasing squirrels? It doesn't matter where they are or what they are doing, they see one and they lose their minds trying to scare it away.
So here we are, 5 seconds into our venture through the parking lot and the baby was woken up. "But he's smiling mom. So it's okay" says the 3 year old bird scarer. Yes, for now he is smiling.
As we safely enter the store I beeline it for coffee. I am still determined this can be a relaxing trip. The coffee was calming, hot and delicious. Then I look over to see my 6 year old laying across the table and my 3 year old running around in circles and my 7 year old getting on to both of them while laughing. I snapped my fingers and they instantly knew from the look on my face that they better shape up in a hurry.
We headed to the back of the store, towards the toys. The boys were all getting very excited about 'shopping', even though I continued to remind them we were not leaving with anything today. About that moment when the toys were in sight, the baby smiles turned into a frown. By the time we got there it was full blown loud crying.
So I remind the boys of the rules and let them get to their Christmas list making. I turn my main focus to comforting the newborn. Pacifier, rocking, singing, swaying, pacifier again, back in stroller, walking, back in my arms, and finally he drifts off to the sleep he desperately needs. At that exact moment I take a sip of my coffee and glance around, trying to decide what I can window shop from a distance when the 6 year old runs up shouting in my face "Mom!!!! I found what I want you to buy me today!!!"
Screaming erupts, both from the newborn and from inside of my head. I have the look of 'seriously' written all over my face. I mouth to the child "go write it down.”
A couple of minutes later, my phone alerts me that it is time to go. The 7 year old comes rushing up to me to show me his list. I cannot read a single word of the gibberish. So I asked him what he wrote down. He points to the item number. I had to laugh out loud at that moment. None of the boys had a single item title that I could look up later. Thank goodness for smart phones. I told them to go stand beside their favorite 3 items so I could take a picture.
I patted myself on the back for quick thinking, buckled the baby up, took a long sip of coffee and told the boys we were leaving. As we moseyed toward the front, I decided to make a pit stop to see if there were any Christmas shirts I wanted to get for them. The second I veered off the main path, one kid hit another and said "tag, you're it" while the other ran and tripped over the stroller and fell, waking the baby again of course. Nevermind, no shirts for them.
We could not get to the car fast enough. And of course the baby was back to screaming with all of his might, deliriously angry. When we got to the doors and one kid had to tie a shoe, I turned around and saw the store in it's entirety. It was like a long lost friend that was passing through town and we waved from a distance. Hoping we could meet over coffee, but alas, it never came to be.
One day, in a few years, maybe I will be able to enjoy this again without children to taint my relaxing experience. But then again I think I'm better off just escaping after they've all gone to bed and all is quiet with most of the world. I would love to push a red cart with ample room to hold my newfound goods instead of a stroller with another hand holding whichever child needs help making good choices at the time. But such is my season of life as a mom. Cheers to all the others walking in the same tired shoes, celebrating the survival of each day.