Having my kids close in age has made life interesting to say the least. Interesting is probably not the most accurate word, but I want to sound like a nice mommy. There is much controversy surrounding the ideal way to space out your children. I would love to say that I spent a lot of time planning my family and thinking about the best way to space out my children, but I can’t. I had 4 kids in 5 years; clearly, there was no planning whatsoever.
I remember when I became pregnant with my first two; I got all of the wonderful responses from people that expectant mothers get “that’s so great!” “Congratulations,” etc. By the fourth pregnancy those wonderful statements were replaced by dirty looks and, comments like “Really?” “You are pregnant again???” My ob-gyn asked me if I had figured out how “this” keeps happening. Blatant yes, but probably well deserved. Being pregnant had become a perpetual state of being for me for over half a decade. I couldn’t remember what it was like NOT be pregnant. For five straight years I shopped exclusively at Motherhood.
Despite my lack of planning and forethought, I have 5 amazing children who are the absolute loves of my lives. While I can’t convince too many people that what I have done is rational; it has worked just fine for us. While I never regret having so many kids close together in age, I admit there have been trips to the grocery store that have caused me to second-guess myself.
I’m not sure what it is about the grocery store, but there is definitely something there that has always triggered the most horrible, outrageous behavior in my kids. No matter how many times I prepped them by saying, “You need to behave,” You need to listen and “you need to stay with me.” “No touching things,” “no running…” It was always as if I had never uttered a word to them. The second they stepped out of the van and those automatic sliding doors flew open they were off! Unleashed… a B-line for the bakery department for the “free cookie,” the one I knew was going to give them just enough “fuel” to make my grocery trip a living hell.
On a complete sugar high, they would run from the bakery up and down every aisle clear over to the other side of the store to make sure they are noticed by every single person in the store, waving their hands, screaming, yelling, giggling and touching every item on every shelf.
One time it was so bad that all four of my boys got down on the ground in the middle of the grocery store as if they were on display. They rolled around in a ball like a barrel of monkeys. Several people gathered around them. I was horrified! People were glaring at me in a way I knew they thought I was the worst mother ever – a woman with clearly no parenting skills and no ability to discipline her children whatsoever. At that point, all I wanted to do was look the other way and pretend those four kids belonged to someone else.
From there it was about making the B-line straight for the check out just as fast as I could possibly go – dragging four kids behind me. Of course I was then headed for the biggest danger zone in the entire store. The display cases – the area guaranteed to make any child meltdown with 500 of the most tempting items any kid could ever want: candy bars, bubble gum, lifesavers, stickers, hot wheels, mini flashlights, silly putty, you name it. Items designed to entice every child and torture every mother.
As predicted, all four of my children grabbed as many items as their little hands could hold, and there I was single-handedly peeling each one of them off the display cases. Meanwhile, the person behind me was complaining that I was holding him up. Seriously!!! Do people have any mercy? Any understanding for how hard it is to survive the ordeal of taking four babies to a grocery store? I had to wonder if any of those complainers had ever been in my situation, or had time erased the horrors of such traumatic experiences from their minds. Either way, I couldn’t wait to pack up my things and get out of there. My kids could be free to run around and I could go home and relax and forget about the emotional impact of the last hour – until the next time.