Today I stayed home with the little ones. My mom, who usually watches them on Tuesdays went to be with my grandparents out of town.
About the third time that Billy called this morning with his usual, "What's going on?" I told him, "Nothing. Still Nothing." But of course, every mother knows it's just the usual. I made breakfast, cleaned up, did laundry, dishes, vacuumed, played, colored, cleaned up again. Then it was time to make lunch and clean the kitchen all over again.
Even in the face of the raging Mom War, I have always known that I wanted to keep working outside the home after I had kids. I know that no matter what choice a mom makes - to stay at home or to go to work - the best thing for a child is a happy mom. By the time I saw Billy this afternoon, I was not a happy mom.
We went to Wal-Mart.
Addison was asleep when we pulled up to the store, but she was really compliant about getting up and at 'em. The kids wanted to ride in one of the carts with the seats for children that face each other. Fine. One can go in the basket and the other two sit in the seats. But as soon as we gathered our fresh fruits and vegetables and were into the meat section, Clayton declared he had to "go" bad. After making a plan to deviate from the planned Wal-Mart route, he decided that he could in fact "hold it." And we proceeded with our typical million questions, pestering of the siblings and asking for obscure items "because we've never had it before." As we made our way winding through the aisles, we played a sibling rivalry version of musical chairs asking to get in and out of the cart. All the while I am fumbling for coupons, trying to get the best deals, maneuvering my troupe to stay out of others way, and still playing the million questions game.
When we made our way back up to the front, Clayton took off running. He still had to go to the bathroom. But Preston and Addison followed him. So I abandoned the basket I'd just spent almost an hour filling to chase the line of little sprinters through the check out stands. I nabbed Addison, just in time to see the boys dart into the men's restroom. So I get in the check out line right in front of the restroom, so that I can wait and still be a little proactive. When they come out and before they look around to find me, they decided to get a drink at the water fountain. Great. But then they proceed to try and stick their heads under the water so that they can comb their hair forward like the "big guys." Yuck. So this time I leave my over flowing cart with my child in it to educate my children about etiquette at public drinking fountains.
Back in line I am ready for the final push from the troupes of the "Moma, can we have a..." but I stood strong and finally it was our turn to load up the belt with our bounty. Clayton was helping. Addison was handing things over. And Preston was still playing with the impulse buy items on the near by shelves. He went to examine the goods of the shelves over on the next aisle and I could hear him talking with his never-met-a-stranger banter. I was still unloading the goods, watching the kids, examining the totals, listening for the beep of the register as it scanned our loot. Billy called - instant multi-tasking overload. And I did a quick head count - I always take inventory when he calls. One... Two... Damn!
"I can't do this right now, Billy. I can't find all of your kids." Once again I leave my basket and dart out into the aisle, this time barking instructions at Clayton to stay with his sister. And a lady passing by says, "Are you looking for a little boy? He's at Customer Service" just as I hear my name over the loud speakers. She said, "He's crying." to which I replied, "Good." (You can start filling out your Mom of the Year Nomination forms at this point) I march down to the center of the store, thinking all the while, "He knows better. How'd he 'get lost' from one aisle over? That kid! ugh" And when he sees me he smiles a great big smile and says, "Hi, Mom!" and jumps off the counter top where he'd been charming the cashiers. As the ran to me, both the ladies in the blue vests said, "Bye, Preston."
I could have rung his little neck right there in front of the whole town. I lectured him all the way back to the check out where I'd ditched my other children. Clayton was screatching to make Addy laugh and the cashier was still checking things out. I told you the cart was over flowing. Clayton and I loaded what once fit into one cart into two to get it out of the store.
Pushing one cart, pulling the other, navigating my way through the other Wal-Mart coma induced shoppers, we made it to the front doors. Addison was in the child seat of the first basket. Clayton was patrolling the area. Preston was strapped into one of the double seats in the second cart. And a man behind the convoy told the kids, "That's a super mom!" And Preston, knowing the depths of his pending punishment, said "Yep, she's my mom!" I just smiled as the man followed us a few steps out the double doors telling the kids to be nice to their mother "because she's taking good care of you." Little did he know I lost them - twice! Threatened them. Ignored them. Gave into them more times than I want to admit.
At tee ball practice tonight, I told a few of the other parents what had happened on our shopping trip. And before I told them which kids had pulled the Houdini act on me, they already knew.
God bless mothers who take their brood to Wal-Mart