The Grocery Store

Today I had to go to the grocery store.

These days that task is as mundane as it sounds.

Except for that the grocery store is never mundane, especially if you shop at Walmart as I often do.  Walmart embodies the whole of the broken state of humanity. It is where it all hangs out — literally.  It is the state fair and the airport all in one place.  Every person pushing a cart has some wild crazy Pulitzer Prize winning tragic story.  And I can see that, I can smell it and that lights some sort of fire in me, those stories that hide in plain sight.

And that’s why I love the grocery store.

Even with all that lurid carnival-style enticement, the store is not the same as it was when I had a grocery store buddy, a chubby fisted helper who was thrilled and delighted with all the exotic marvels that the grocery store offers.

I thought of that today as I was pushing my cart towards the checkout.  Right in the middle of the St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts there was a man going up, up, up on a vertical lift.  He was retrieving a helium balloon from the ceiling.  Did his mother never tell him that if he just waits long enough it will come down?

Had my little boyfriend been with me, even today, we would have stopped and watched and marveled at the machine and it’s scissor-like arm reaching for the ceiling.  We would lie with all sincerity about how we wish we could ride the vertical lift.  Except that we would be too scared.  And maybe we would impulsively buy a balloon when we got to the checkout and promise not to let it go.

But today, there were no brave wishes or balloons or grocery store buddy, just a cart full of mundane to get through the checkout.

As I waited my turn in the checkout line, I thought about how much I enjoyed going to the grocery store with Sean and how I miss him hanging off the end of the cart and his running observations and commentary.

And then I caught myself.  Surely that is not really true, surely there were days when I just wanted to go, get groceries and go home — and not have to stop and watch a man on a vertical lift or see how much two apples weighed or see if they had any cookie samples for good boys.

Has the same time that heals all wounds also rewritten the tedious and mundane days of my motherhood into a more lovely narrative?


But if so, if going to the store with a little boy was a chore and a pain, I honestly don’t remember it that way.

And so I should like to do it all over again.

17 thoughts on “The Grocery Store

  1. My sons are in college so I shop by myself.. over winter break my 19 yr old went along to help me as my chemo was making me very tired. So he drove and pushed the cart and loaded them in the car. As he took the cart back to the cart corral he pushed off , jumped up and put his feet on the bottom rack and rode the cart across the lot.. It was such a cute overlap of 19 yr old 6’1″ college sophomore and 4 yr old little boy….


  2. Isn’t it funny how we poeticize our journey with kids? When I’m at the store without my kids, I look at harried moms speaking to their kids through pinched lips, and I think, “Lighten Up, Mom – they aren’t even doing anything.” Then, I’m the one at the store with pinched words wondering why they can’t stop climbing everything. Is it a Grass Greener thing, or just a mom thing?


  3. Glad to know someone else feels this way. I had to stop the car once and have a large cry, because I saw a woman in the parking lot pushing her shopping cart with a strong-faced and intent little boy clutching tightly to the cart. I too miss those days very much.


  4. I haven’t pushed a little one in my cart in many, many years. I should like to do it all over again as well. Beautifully written.


  5. You made me cry. (You’ve made me cry many times though). My 8 year old boy always wants to weigh the fruits and veggies and I’m always rushing him and saying hurry up. I am going to try so hard to not rush him anymore. I always try to remind myself that they are little for such a short period, but I do forget.


  6. I recently was in Sam’s (Walmart 2.0) and there was a lady behind me in line who’s daughter was singing a cute little song. Really loudly. I smiled at her and mentioned how cute she was. The mother rolled her eyes and said “She. Never. Stops.” I was dealing with a bit of “empty-nester” with all my kids in school and I wanted to look her eyes and say that this doesn’t last forever. You will actually miss this. And to treasure whatever season your in because it won’t be forever. But I didn’t because that would be a creepy thing to say to a stranger in a check-out line. So, I get it. I love your writing and you insight. 🙂


  7. I so remember those days and I miss them. I love that we can replay those sweet times in our minds when a memory catches light. You always make me remember things I’ve long forgotten. 🙂

    Going with him to Wal-Mart now *he’s almost 40* is just as fun as it was when he was little. He still tosses items in my shopping cart cause Mom’s still paying. Though now he’s carrying his 11-month old son on his back in a backpack…who tends to nip things from the shelves. New memories.

    I’ve missed you!


  8. I love your writing. You inspire me and you speak what I can’t eloquently put into words. Yes, trips to the grocery store just aren’t the same without little fingers and motor mouths. I think that is one of my loneliest places, too, now that my kids are grown.


  9. You have no idea the number of times and things I wish I could just do over with my son. He is now 22. He still gives me really good hugs and kisses and I am beyond thankful for that much. I miss the hand holding and real cuddling and and and.

    You still lots of time with Sean. Enjoy it! As you know, it all goes by and you don’t know exactly when it stopped but it did. Sigh.


  10. Oh Tina I Love your writing, it always touches my soul and pulls on my heart strings! Thank you for that gift you have! My mundane grocery store runs & those that I can’t wait to finish soon enough will be viewed differently; patient with discovery!
    I must admit I do relate to your Walmart adventures…the best place to people watch! However I even find asking myself when I need to run in for just a couple of things ,hmmmm do I need to clean up, nah it’s just Walmart!! Hahaha


  11. Yes I miss the days when you used outings as an educational experience. I have a 16 yo that I drag with me explaining I need her help carrying those groceries. I still point out why i pick out what we buy and I even throw some comparison shopping in. Slowly learning to see the same wonders and maybe I’ll snapchat them to my older children, what I still find interesting,


  12. This is just the beginning, Tina. I am now at the point where I remember having twins and another one only 20 months older as all sweetness and light. 3 toddlers in diapers at once? Honestly, I swear all they did was cuddle and babble and be adorable.


  13. I could so relate! I loved going to the store with my boys and have such fond memories. You made me smile. Thank you.


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