Children and Checkout Lanes

Grocery store checkout lanes. So harmless, right? Unless you are a mom with a few kids in tow. Are you perspiring right now just thinking about it? I’m a single mom now, but even when I was married I was that lady in the checkout lane with an overloaded cart and three small children talking to her, hanging on her, needing a million things at once from her in the sweetest possible way. Side note: I still can’t believe my eyes when I see husbands helping their wives (sans children) with shopping lists at the grocery store. I just can’t wrap my brain around the helplessness of that. One of you go or the other but not both, unless of course this is a romantic venture. I’m all about that. But it never appears to be. Because the men seem to fall into two categories –  slightly annoyed or slightly feminine, not that there’s anything wrong with either of those.

But I digress. Checkout lanes and children are a complex mix, aren’t they? Let’s call it what it really is – – a mini candy store. If you’re like me, you are not extreme in either direction regarding healthful eating. A candy or two every now and then (read: everyday) is okay with you. But there is so much more at play in the checkout lane. You’re about to spend a fortune for groceries, you can barely concentrate on getting the stuff out of that cart, heart beating wildly as you have that familiar thought “oh my God, tell me I brought my credit card” while digging in your pocket for a couple of wrinkled coupons, picking up a possibly passive-aggressively dropped sippy cup, answering your first grader’s profound non-candy related question, and greeting the cashier. And then it comes, your toddler’s query that sets off an explosive chain of questions from all of your children old enough to speak. And you are transported out of the moment. Because the fact is, even with all this going on in the here and now, all you can think about is how this decision is going to pave the way for the ideas and beliefs your children will have about this in the future – about money, about health, about giving in, about standing your ground, about being a mommy or a daddy, about what kind of a mommy YOU are, and yeah, even about candy. It’s amazing in that moment how many things you can connect the purchase of a candy bar to – all the future moments of your children’s lives seem to rest on it.

But, this is not true of the person behind you. They are right there in the checkout lane, nowhere else. There mind is completely clear and present. And regardless of the path you choose at that moment, to place that candy on the conveyor belt or not, I want to assure you that the person behind you will not agree with your decision. In fact, they will disdainfully and openly disagree with you (hint: the openly part is only true if you are stupid enough to make eye contact with them so don’t unless you like that kind of thing or are seasoned at this – – I admit I got very good at the stare down, the one that says “you got a problem with this?”).  But I tell you this disdain is especially true if that person happens to be a mom. Listen, you know that some moms would completely have your back. I understand this too. But, sadly for you it isn’t going to be that mom behind you. Statistically speaking, just saying.

So, what’s the lesson here? Mothering is about this very thing, that’s the lesson. Your forever job is to focus simultaneously on making your children’s lives everything they can be in the here and now, making your children’s lives everything they can be in the future, and doing all of this under the scrutiny of people who aren’t the parents of your children and don’t see inside your little Walter Mitty universe. Promise me you’ll do these things and do them with a smile. Again, this is your forever job. 🙂

I’ll leave you with a pertinent verse: Your young but in my mind I see you this way and another. I see you as a little child, prepare you for when you’re a mother. I try to live my life in ways you’ll proudly emulate. And you, my son, I  prep you to become an awesome mate. The choices that I make for you until you make your own, are made so very carefully because they’ll set the tone. For who you are, who you become, how happy your life will be.  Nothing hold’s a candle to how much this means to me.

Okay everyone, see you next time for a drop of wise and a hint of rhyme. 😉


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