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March Madness: Taking Children To The Grocery Store

For the parents reading this- lean in.  You need a hug.  Like one of those long, slow, rub-your-back-a-few-times hugs that eventually makes us sway back and forth but then we stop because we’re strangers and that just got weird.

Grocery store shopping with children has the potential to be… well.. frankly, a catastrophe.  The kind of experience where you made a list (but why?) and people are staring at your kids (go away) and you hope your children can extract all of the appropriate vitamins and nutrition from the eight Chips Ahoy bags they tossed into the cart (ugh).

Some people can take their kids to the store and somehow create this entire Family Field Trip. They manage to promote language and literacy development, further social skills, and develop mathematical understanding, all while staying in the budget and leave energized.  As a former teacher, let me be the first to commend these parents for incorporating such outstanding educational concepts into their errand-running.  (So serious- y’all are amazing)

If we’re being honest though, most of us are team-huddling at the store entrance like, “Gather ’round offspring.  We are about to enter a public place known as a STORE.  If you run away from the cart, I WILL FIND YOU and I will break your spirit with a permanent hand hold.  If you sweep Reese’s eggs into the cart when I’m not looking, Mommy will pay for all of them with your allowance and put them in her Easter basket.  And just to be clear, if I see you licking any produce, I will disown you immediately and call your father.  Ready? Break!”

taking children grocery store

It all started when your kids insisted on riding in the Party Bus Grocery Cart.  You know, the one that’s triple the size of a regular cart and nearly impossible to put on a swivel onto Aisle 4.  Inevitably there are also some sort of novelty race car stripes along the plastic side.  Plus a jankity wheel.  Don’t get me started…

A grocery trip shopping solo would have allowed you to get oriented with your list, the layout, the store’s temperature, the coupons, the sales, and then begin.  That day, your first step into the store was accompanied by your precious little inmates- who, God bless them, could not manage any chill because they caught a glimpse of the 25 cent tattoo machines on the way in.  You were barely in the store thinking, “IT’S NOT GONNA GO DOWN LIKE THIS”, so you promised the three year old he could get the tattoo of a skull wearing sunglasses after check-out to keep the peace.

As you made your way around the store, you mentally catalogued all the ways your children have abused the shopping cart in recent trips.
1.  Standing up in the basket to “surf”
2.  Toddlers trying to do full circle spins in the front seat
3.  Kid standing on the side and literally flipping the cart over while toddler sibling is in the front seat
4.  Sitting on the inside edge of the basket teetering backward toward a concussion
5.  Child “helping” parent push the cart which is definitely code for shoving the cart into shelving units and walls
6.  Kid laying flat along the bottom and paddling along the oh-so-clean floor with their hands

You tried to make the shopping fun.  Like, playing “Hunters and Gatherers” and sending your oldest back and forth to get items from the list.  This was fun until it was not fun.  More specifically- when he gathered someone else’s cell phone from their purse.  Later, it was like “Hey guys!  Look how interesting it is to learn new words on the cereal boxes!”  And those inquisitive early readers yelled, “MOM DOES THAT SAY CORN POOPS” and that’s when Fun Shopping abruptly and permanently died.

There’s no way to predict which products or food items will make kids beg and plead.  This is March Madness, you guys.  Expect the unexpected.  Your toddler tantrummed over a bag of edamame.  And you might’ve even bought it if she ACTUALLY liked it.  But no, we’ve entered the Twilight Zone where hungry, tired children start campaigning for products based solely on the packaging colors, and she only wanted it because it’s green.  If you bought edamame for the crying toddler, this is what dinnertime would end up like: “I would not like them here or there/ I would not like them anywhere/ I do not like green edamame/ I do not like them (unless we’re in the grocery store and you won’t buy me nothin else in which case toddler logic says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth over that green bag of soybeans)”

To many, March Madness is filling out a basketball bracket.  To a parent in a grocery store, March Madness is a child with no Act-Right, filling out a bracket to see which forbidden products can secretly gain entry to the cart…
grocery store bracket

The real fun started at the check-out.  At that point, Mom discovered piles of contraband that would’ve tripled the grocery bill and immediately guaranteed Type 2 Diabetes.  Your feral crew of lovelies traded whining for begging once they spotted the ride-on machine at the exit.  One child was trying to scan the items for the cashier.  Another wanted his skull tattoo.  You forgot to grab juice but there was no freakin way you were leaving that check out lane.

A simple smile and shrug was exchanged with the parent in the check-out lane next to you, because they’ve been there and know you’re an amazing parent with really great kids.  They remember how crazy March Madness can get, along with all the other grocery-shopping months- May Mayhem, Just-Eat-Out July, Self-Destruct September, to name a few.  As that parent passed by you on her way out, she handed you the brochure for Curbside Pick-Up and gave a friendly wink as if to say, “Hang in there..you got this.”

If Adults Acted Like Babies…

If I could have three wishes granted, I would wish for
1) a best friends necklace to share with the Duchess of Cambridge,
2) to anonymously win the Powerball (money doesn’t buy happiness but it does buy an island and a plane, MKAY?),
3) to know of a world where all the adults acted like babies for my entertainment.

Enter this world with me:

If Adults Acted Like Babies...

  1.  Our thigh rolls would be SO IN right now.
    Imagine the elation you would feel as an adult baby if someone commented on how chunky your legs and arms are.  “New favorite person, would you also please take a close look at my triple chin and speak a kind word to it as well?”  Trending: #FatRollsMatter
  2. I would swat at the iPhone with complete disregard and zero accountability for my swipes.
    This would explain how I ended up on the Facebook page of my college roommate’s ex-boyfriend’s wife’s photo album from their holiday trip to Cancun and accidentally liked a photo.  I just tried to FaceTime the Honda Dealership?  I downloaded four apps and agreed to their terms and conditions that supposedly forfeit my rights as an American citizen? I can’t help it guys, I’M AN ADULT BABY!
  3. Lunch breaks at work would be like:
    Eating carrots because I like carrots.  Smearing banana into my hair.  Wiping banana in your hair.  Throwing carrots because WHO COULD POSSIBLY like carrots?  Licking the table for three minutes.  Gazing longingly at your grilled cheese.  Suddenly stuffing all available food into my mouth at once.
  4. Pay our bills in Puffs, the currency of babes.
    “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to give you $45 for the electric bill, but I can afford to give you 45 Puffs because all of them are currently stuck to my high chair and the car floor.”
  5. Crawling is our CrossFit.
    All it would take to tone up the core is a few brisk laps crawling around the kitchen.  Additional perk: you may even find a snack on the ground while you’re working out.  Put me in, Coach!
  6. I would have permission to cry in any of these scenarios:
    -You’re making me eat your disgusting food.
    -Don’t leave me!!!!! Don’t you ever leave me!!!!
    -Shoes.
    -I just want to lick the remote control.  Is this too much to ask.
  7. We could nap anywhere without being judged or getting fired.
    It would be appropriate- even expected- that we would lay down on our work papers and fall asleep for an hour.  As a committed napper and borderline narcoleptic, all I can say is yassssssssssssssss.
  8. Conference calls would look like:
    Everyone say their favorite animal noise.  Discuss agenda item #1: Should we eat staples?  (Action Step: No, we should not.) Each person gets to do their loudest squeal.  Bang the phone on the table five times to signal the end of the call.
  9. You are weird, therefore I will stare at you for twelve minutes with uninterrupted eye contact.  
    Optimal locations to practice adult-baby-staring:
    -Walmart (Black Friday)
    -State Fair (Anyone with a turkey leg)
    -Airport (Stare at the outfits people choose to travel in)
    -Gym (Watch the Dudebros getting their cardio-crawling in on the treadmill)
  10. My Amazon cart: ordering a Sleep Sack for a size 5’8”.
    Also in my cart… a wipe warmer because WHY NOT.  I’ll take a pair of socks that look like ballet slippers and a Tommee Tippee for my morning coffee.  Put it on the tab, Prime!

Talk to me, Interweb… what’s missing from the list?

 

9 Insights About Motherhood For My Pre-Baby Self

Dear Pre-Baby Self,
You’ve heard that life is going to change when you have kids and you think you understand. Well, that’s cute.
I’m here to tell you that you’re not prepared at all. I know what life will be like on the other side. Your new normal will be challenging and special and perfect and busy. Listen closely and take notes.9 Insights About Motherhood

  1. “Wheels on the Bus” is about to be your heartbeat song.
    You will officially know everything that happens on that bus, just like you also know all the animals that live on Old MacDonald’s farm. Even some jungle animals will make cameos on the farm if that means your child will not cry in her car seat for six minutes. (What? The song is about animals, not ecosystems and habitats. Maybe Old MacDonald really wanted a gorilla on his farm.)
  2. In addition to having a child, you will gain another new roommate named Bacterial Colonies.
    You will think your house is relatively clean until your little one starts shuffling around with tufts of pet hair pulled out of the carpet and leaving sippy cups of milk in the play kitchen, only to be found days later. Food will be heartily flung to the floor from the high chair and unless you invest in a dog or a Roomba, it may live there for awhile, at least until company comes.
  3. Motherhood is a delicate balance between dying to self and making time for yourself.
    You will realize that you can’t be the center of your universe anymore. There are little feet that need shoes, little bellies that need filling, and little cries that need soothing. You are going to tend to everybody, but make sure you get a cut of that TLC too, starting with a pedicure with a girlfriend.
  4. You will soon understand there’s a reason why sleep deprivation is commonly used as a torture tactic.
    Lean in, Pre-Baby Self. You’ve already heard that in the beginning you won’t get much sleep and it’s true. But I need to prepare you now for the things you will do while sleep deprived including, but not limited to: discover a dirty diaper under all the covers at the foot of your bed, try to cradle and rock your cat, and put DVDs in the freezer. One day the baby will actually start sleeping through the night! This will last until Daylight Savings when you get to wake up at oh-dark-thirty and start sleep training all over again.
  5. Invest in a U-Haul. You will need it for all the baby gear that accompanies a weekend trip.
    When you plan a weekend away, it will seem necessary to pack every baby shower present and furniture item that your child owns. If you want to drive down the highway with an inflatable duck tub crammed across your lap, then buy the minivan. But if you want to travel comfortably with all sixteen hundred lovey blankets, then go with the U-Haul.
  6. It takes a village to raise a mom. Be brave and accept help from your village.
    Let me just say Pre-Baby Self, you are going to be such an awesome Mom. You will work really hard and dole out kisses, Band-Aids, and snuggles. You might feel frustrated when you don’t know all the parenting answers or feel helpless if you experience Postpartum Depression, but you have a whole crew of people who love you and your family. Be willing to let them into your world.
  7. Many tasks of motherhood require speed and stealth: Opening and closing the diaper pail is one of them.
    It won’t take long for you to realize that leaving the diaper pail open for longer than 0.001 of a second unleashes the underworld. Change the diaper, dispose of the diaper- open, close, done. Be quick about it. Trust me on this.
  8. Your pre-baby body and post-baby body are not friends on Facebook and they probably never will be. And that’s okay.
    You will have moments where you look down at your new belly button, turn on Boyz II Men, and sing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”. You’ll work out, you’ll eat healthy, and still- everything will sit differently than it used to. Bathing suit season will get you all hot and bothered, but you know what? You rearranged your organs to grow and birth the most precious human. Treat those stretch marks with respect… they actually tell a beautiful story.
  9. The love for your child will be very real- deep and strong and even a little overwhelming in the very best way.
    You will look at these little people that you’re raising and ache because the love you feel is so powerful. Sure, you will have moments made of utter chaos, but even after the hard days, you’ll still tiptoe into their room at night and think to yourself, “That child just about killed me today. But I couldn’t love her any more.”

Pre-Baby Self, we both know you don’t have a clue what you’re getting into. Soak up every moment with your babies. You won’t believe how quickly the time will pass. For now, though: travel, sleep in, binge watch Netflix, eat out, pee by yourself. These days are numbered, but truly, the best is yet to come.

Raising Girls to Be Strong, Confident Women

Princess

When we found out we were having a girl, I loved daydreaming about the pink hairbows and the frilly princess costumes.  I couldn’t wait to brush her hair and braid it into pigtails.  Smocked dresses! Mommy/Daughter manicures!  Dancing to Beyonce!  (WHO RUNS THE WORLD? GIRLS.)  Oh the joys!

It wasn’t until later that my daydreaming slowly transitioned to a growing panic… Having a girl also means lots of tears and all the drama.  Mean girls.  Conversations about maxi pads.  Fragile self image.  Twerking.  (Dear Lord, please let twerking stop existing as a thing by the time she is of age for school dances.  Amen.)  Thankfully I was able to sidestep the full-fledged panic attack and gradually embrace the challenge of having a daughter in the era of selfies.

Now I realize in the raising-a-daughter department I’m no expert, considering I’ve only been a Mom for a hot minute and my parenting expertise is limited to conquering nap time and saying Peek-a-Boo at different pitches.  The thoughts here are a collage of observations, realizations, and aspirations, a collection of ideas that formed as a result of attentively studying the amazing mothers around me and deciding I wanted to do this as well as they did.  

In the very same way that we, as women, faced important questions about our identities, our daughters are going to grow up and wonder:
How do I make sense of the world’s messages about who I am?
What defines beauty?
Am I enough?

child-1127087_640 girl-789868_640 small-child-945784_640 portrait-962654_640 little-girl-958419_640

In a world that values skin complexion, the numbers on the scale, and the tucking and tightness of all body parts, my daughter will have her fair share of insecurity.  She will come downstairs in inappropriate clothing and will promptly be told “Girl, I know you are not leaving this house in booty shorts.  Thanks for playing, TRY AGAIN.”  As we fight she will think I know nothing and have zero life experiences.  But I hope, at the end of it all, she learns that developing the beauty of her character deserves just as much attention as her hair products and Pinterest boards.

Raising my girl to be confident in who she is needs to first start with what she sees in me.  If she watches me stand in front of the bathroom mirror incessantly primping and fixing and curling, or commenting on the imperfections of my appearance, then my underlying message appears to be “This is the most important.  You’re beautiful and valued because of all of this.”  Don’t get me wrong- we all gotta take care of our Money Makers.  All I’m saying is these little girls are watching the women in their world to understand what beauty is and we have the responsibility and privilege as Moms to shape this part of who they are as we raise them.

Moms of girls, together we strive to raise our daughters well and instill values that will help them grow to become strong, confident women.  Keeping in mind that perfection in parenting is out of reach, we accept grace daily.  We recognize the terrifying yet freeing reality that even when given the very best model, our girls will grow up making their own choices, endure many mistakes, and battle unique insecurities.

Choosing to start somewhere to build our daughters up, let’s balance our compliments about their physical beauty with equally sincere compliments about their creativity, intellect, and inquisitive spirits.  Let’s first be committed to loving and accepting who God created us to be as women so we can raise our girls with an authentic model of inner beauty and self confidence.

And if that also brings about manicures and Queen Bey dance-offs in the kitchen, then so be it.

The Truth About Co-Parenting With Google

My daughter is currently being raised by me, my husband, and anyone who contributes to a parenting web forum on Google.  No shame in our 2016 parenting game.
google-1018443_1280I’ve always been in awe of Google.  (It’s a noun and a verb, you guys!) I can Google search how much you paid for your house or the menu at Chili’s, how to fix the garbage disposal or photos of Courteney Cox’s plastic surgery, review my Internet trail from the past decade or discover a dozen ways to make a meaty lasagna.  I can spend ten minutes viewing search results for “unlikely animal friends” and an additional ten minutes wishing I knew a fawn and a puppy that would snuggle together on a hammock.

Google searches were the worst enemy of my pregnancy and the best friend of my entrance into motherhood.  When I was pregnant and thickly spreading peanut butter on top of my peanut butter, I’d feel the slightest twitch of a “symptom” and- against my better judgment- end up at Google.  A midnight search for “my neck is sore” would confirm that I clearly had bacterial meningitis and it could only be cured by whisper waking my husband, arguing about going to the ER for 45 minutes, and going back to sleep with five added pillows.  (This feels like the right time to sincerely apologize to all of our trained Medical Professionals who have to deal with the WebMD hypochondria of the general public.)

Once I became a Mom, my relationship with Google started innocently but evolved rather quickly.  Initially, I’d type in a few keywords like “tummy time” to quickly get some info on infant care.  Then, it’d be complete questions to tell me answers to specific scenarios.  Reasonable questions like:
-What are the signs of reflux in babies?

-When do you start solid food?
-Can you sleep train an overtired baby?

Somewhere between the delirium of five hours of nighttime sleep and narrating my day to an infant, my searches became stream of consciousness and Google basically became my Pen Pal.

-“hey google whats up with you nmh.  Should a baby’s pajamas fit when you put her down at night but then be too tight in the morning?  Get back to me ok?”

-“google please pull up all internet forums related to getting a baby to nap. Literally pull them all up because im going to sit here and read every single forum post to get this right”

-“it’s me again google.  Just checking in to see the best way to treat diaper rash so let me know what you find but don’t pull up that one website that talks about “finger painting” the rash cream because I felt really weird about that one.”

-“so hey goog, today my baby acted like she didn’t want to eat sweet potatoes but most days she loves sweet potatoes so did this happen because she’s teething, ornery, tired, allergic, or all of the above? Write back soon love u so much.”

I have no idea how people parented prior to the Internet.  Did you send out a pigeon to your cousin to ask her about nap schedules?  Or like… did you just follow your heart?  Didn’t it take a ton of time to pick up the phone and twist all the numbers around and untangle the cord and ask your list of questions to your best friend?

Every now and then, I get the giggles when I start to Google search something and the auto-fill lists other popular questions that may match what I’m typing in.  I’m just trying to find out “Will babies go (to sleep after crying for an hour)” and it pulls up “Will babies go (in the rapture)”.  Or I wanna know “Is it ok for babies to eat (table food at x months)” and it brings up “Is it bad for babies to eat (baby powder)”.  WHAT????? You had to Google that?! Who are you?  The best was when I started Googling “Do babies have (allergies)” and I got three winners to choose from:
-“Do babies have (kneecaps)
-“Do babies have (tastebuds)
-“Do babies have (gills in the womb)
Y’ALLLLLLL.  Really tho.  I’m just gonna leave that right there.

If Y2K shut down the Internet years ago, who knows where we would all be today.  (Y2K #neverforget #alwaysinourhearts)  I’m fully prepared to Google my way through my kids’ todder-lives, elementary years, adolescence, probably even into their adulthood.  “hey google talk to me about adult children trying to move back home.  can i charge inflated rent to cover the tuition she drained on sorority tshirts. do I have to share my cookie butter.  if she cancels my DVR recordings of gymnastics can i cut her off emotionally. let me know, lylas”

2To all the parents who contribute to the web forums I’m reading, thank you for being my mentor and guiding light.  To all the parents who will come after me, my best advice is:
1) Never leave home without your diaper bag.
2) Don’t be afraid to utilize Guess-and-Check Parenting.  Also known as Regular Parenting.
3) Google will be your constant friend and Pen Pal.  Maintain a solid WiFi connection and treat her well. She’s the closest Parenting Manual you’re gonna get.

Would You Rather: Slide Down a Razor Blade into a Pool of Rubbing Alcohol… or Open a Door While Pushing a Stroller?

Easy choice.

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Opening a door to enter a building while pushing a stroller is admittedly a first world problem- but certainly one that needs to be addressed.  I don’t even understand why this is so stressful.  It just is.  When I’m out running errands, it takes me seven minutes, a twelve-point turn, and two Xanax before I can physically enter a store with my child.  Honestly..  we have entire careers devoted to inventing products that maximize our convenience and comfort.  For crying out loud, someone invented a night light for your toilet bowl.  And sells it.  For money.  MURICA THE BEAUTIFUL!  Let it be known that if someone invents a robotic stroller arm with an opposable thumb, I will purchase this product and endorse it until the day I die.  (LOOKIN AT YOU fifteen year old on Shark Tank!)

If you’re new to the Stroller Situation, let me break down this tedious six step process.  I can’t guarantee this is the best way to maneuver a stroller into a building, but I’d like to offer it as a suggestion.  If you are a seasoned parent who has discovered a better method, tell me your ways and I will sit at your feet and be your Padawan and grow up to be a Stroller Jedi just like you.

The Pathway to Insanity  Six Steps to Opening a Door With a Stroller:
Step One: Casually approach the door to Hallmark and hit the door with the stroller to see if there are any handicapped door activators.  [Spoiler alert: There are none.]

Step Two: Turn around and wheel the stroller backward toward the door.  In one fluid motion, fling the door open but also insert your body in the doorway so the door stays “open”.  You will develop a hematoma but you are also a parent who has to learn the child comes first.

Step Three: Shuffle backward and pull the stroller.  The front wheels will probably lock at some point in your journey so be prepared to pop a wheelie and ruff ride into Hallmark if it comes to that.

Step Four: HEAVEN HELP US if there are any individuals watching you do all of this without offering to help.  If this happens, stop and stare into their eyes so they can see deep into your soul.  Or “accidentally” run over their toes once you make it in.  Or both.

Step Five: Your body is in the store but the stroller is stuck in the doorway.  If I understand science correctly, your child really won’t retain any of these early childhood memories so if the door closes on him a few times while you continue dragging the stroller backward, they’ll think about it for, like, 90 seconds then go back to thinking about how to kick off one shoe.

Step Six:   Now- please pivot approximately nine times.

Your reward for making it successfully into the store is two minutes of victorious browsing before your kid lets it all go in his diaper and you need to find a bathroom.  That’s predictably when I fall to my knees in despair and claw all the product off the shelves and get kicked out of the store.

But at least they open the door for me on the way out…

Three cheers for automatic doors, helpful strangers, and Amazon Prime!