I somehow made it 2.5 years as a mom without so much as even acknowledging their existence. Scratch that -- one time I almost got ran over by a couple of kids in the freezer aisle who came barreling past the frozen meatballs, whizzing by me with a blur of metal.
I'm talking about the Trader Joes tiny shopping carts.
You know the ones. They're meant for kids to use. I'm not sure for what purpose, to teach children how to steer a cart? To teach them how to grocery shop? To annoy every single other person in the store?
I think my son noticed them once and inquired innocently, "Momma, what's dat?"
I responded like I usually do when I simply can't be bothered with something as inconvenient as tiny shopping carts.
"Those are shopping carts, buddy! Maybe next time."
He asked if we could buy grapes and that was that. (I am going to miss his toddler attention span when he gets older.)
But I digress.
It was a foggy Wednesday morning and it had been a rough week. When I say rough, I mean there had been an incident involving diarrhea in the car seat. I repeat: Diarrhea. In. The. Car. Seat. We were all a little on edge, we were all tired. We were all sick of potty training and sick of the crummy weather.
We were out of milk and cheese and cereal and even though the idea of grocery shopping with two kids gives me anxiety, I decided to suck it up because I was hungry and we had nothing better to do. So I packed up the kids and the 84 things required for us to leave the house and off we went.
I don't know if it was the fog or the Sam Smith song playing on the radio or what, but something came over me in the parking lot.
Today's going to be the day, I thought to myself.
It's tiny shopping cart day. (cue dramatic music)
I've been thinking a lot about inconvenience lately, and how bothered I am when things are inconvenient. Getting two kids in and out of two car seats every time I need to run a simple errand? Inconvenient. Spending 45 minutes every day playing whack-a-mole to get two kids to go down for a nap at the same time? Inconvenient. Needing to pack 84 things every time we leave the house so we are prepared for things like diarrhea in the car seat? SO VERY INCONVENIENT.
If I'm being totally 100 percent honest right now, just taking care of two children every day is pretty inconvenient. Don't get me wrong, my children are miracles and I love them more than life itself but let's call a spade a spade: everything is harder to do with a toddler and infant in tow.
I don't always have a great attitude about it. I sigh loudly and I lose my patience often. I hate that about myself, and I've been thinking about how I can change (both my perspective and actions).
So on that foggy Wednesday morning, I decided to embrace the inconvenience. I mean, why the heck not? Grocery shopping with two kids is already a ton of work. It's already going to take twice as long as it would if I was there alone. Why not turn an otherwise boring errand into a grand adventure for at least one of my kids?
As soon as I fished the tiny shopping cart out of the line-up, my son's face lit up like a Christmas tree. He felt so grown-up and proud pushing his very own cart up and down the aisles. We stopped at the produce section and I let him pick which color grapes. I started filling his cart with all his favorite snacks: bananas, granola bars, carrot applesauce, cheese sandwich crackers. He trailed right behind me the entire time grinning ear to ear. He almost crashed into two different people, saying "Whoa! Watch out!" each time. I'm sure they appreciated that (good thing he's cute).
When we went up to the checkout counter, he handed every single thing -- one by one -- to the cashier, naming each item.
Bless her heart, she let him empty his whole cart. As soon as it was empty, my son turned to me and said, "Momma, I put it back."
He wheeled his cart back over to the line-up and much to my surprise, perfectly shoved it into the other carts, just as he had seen me do dozens of times. The cashier seemed equally impressed, and handed him a sheet of stickers.
As we packed everything and everyone back into the car, I asked him if he had a good time grocery shopping.
"Dat was fun, momma! I wanna do it again."
And you know what? It was fun. It was so fun that for a minute there, I totally forgot it was inconvenient.