On Apples and Babies

I’ve always been a gawker. My sister has called me out on this time and time again, since childhood. “Son, stop! You’re staring again!!”

I’m sure it comes across as creepy. No question about it. But I swear, the reason behind it is simple curiosity. (Sidenote: It also has led to a very gratifying career in journalism, which rewards us weirdos who must always have those 5 W’s answered.)

Well, this morning in the grocery store, let’s just say my sister would have been sufficiently embarrassed by me.

In the middle of the produce section, I caught myself in a full-on staredown of a mom who was pushing around her 3 kids around in one cart.

3 kids. 2 toddlers, one infant. The infant was still in a carrier, by God, taking up that valuable shopping cart real estate, and yet she had it all crammed in there perfectly. I even caught the two toddlers hugging in the front of the cart at one point. And the mom was peaceful. Calm. Ever so slowly, measuredly, gliding through the store, plucking items from the displays daintily. If her cart were a human it would look like they were doing the Viennese waltz.

My path, on the other hand, resembled the tracks of a drunken fruit fly. (How many times can I forget my order at the deli and have to turn back? Three. Three is the answer.)

We were a tangle of bread crusts and balloon strings. El Toddler stole Baby Girl’s balloon. Baby Girl was crying and soaked in drool. Sammy had just finished screaming APPLE!!!! and I hastily cleaned one with my shirt and stuck the produce sticker on the front of my shirt so that I could actually pay for the fruit that I had just so necessarily—albeit temporarily—shoplifted, all to keep him quiet.

I actually dropped the mango I was squeeze-testing at the time because I stared so long at Good Mom gliding past. What was her secret? How did she do it? If I wheeled my cart close enough, would some of that panache rub off?

I didn’t even mean to speak but I did.

“God bless you. How do you do it?”

She laughed. She must get that question a lot.

There was no answer, by the way. Only a nod of the head and a wizened look of, “You’ll get there someday.”

I don’t know if the contrast between me and Peaceful Mama was really that apparent, or if it was because it was just “one of those mornings” for us. You know, the one where you have to bodily carry your toddler out of your place of employment after a quick stop, him screaming, you pushing the stroller with your hip while your boss holds the door open for you as you leave the building sweating bullets.

That was just me? Oh.

So, yeah. Composure. I’m workin’ on it.

But one thing I know for sure is I’m not the only mom who’s in that place right now. For every one wild moment, there are ten sweet, delicious moments.

For every meltdown, there are ten other moments that melt your heart.

So to all my fellow moms out there who, like me, haven’t quite mastered The Dance, keep on pushing that cart. You’re not alone.

Just don’t forget to pay for the apple at the front.

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