One of the biggest surprises for me about having kids is how hard it is to get out of the house to run errands. It’s just such a huge project. Things that used to take an hour tops now take twice or three times that long. Everything takes careful planning and preparation, and even then, it often ends in tears or chaos or both. Take tonight’s trip to Wal-Mart, for example:
4:45 p.m.: Everyone’s up from naps, so I start getting ready to go. I wouldn’t go this late usually, but it didn’t work out to go earlier in the day, and I’m down to the last two diapers, so it can’t wait until tomorrow. I get Lego’s pants, shoes, and socks on. I find my list, my WIC vouchers, and my purse. I get my own socks and shoes on. I nurse Duplo so he’ll be good for the whole trip. I make sure there are two diapers in my purse in case Duplo needs them. I put coats on the boys. I give Lego a pumkin cookie so he’ll be good the whole time, even though we’re approaching dinnertime.
5:15 p.m.: We’re finally out the door. I buckle both boys into their car seats and get going. A few minutes later, I’m at the first red light when I realize I’ve forgotten the two checks I needed to deposit. I turn around, go home, and run in for them. Before I get to the small highway in town, Lego’s asleep because he refused to take a nap today. Oh, and I remember that I’ve also forgotten the two items I was supposed to return to Wal-Mart. There’s always next time, I guess.
5:30: We arrive. I have to wake up Lego to put him in the shopping cart. Luckily, he seems okay with it and starts chattering happily before long. Duplo’s just being mellow, which is great. I check out a movie from Redbox and deposit the checks, then start on the shopping.
6:40: I’m finally done shopping. For some reason, there’s always at least one thing I need at Wal-Mart that I can’t find. Today it’s granola bars (they’d moved them in their remodel). Also, any time I have to go to the pharmacy/health section, as I did tonight, it adds a good ten minutes to my trip because that’s way the heck on the other side of the store.
6:45: I’m entering the checkout line. It looks like a pretty short one, especially for Wal-Mart. Lego informs me that he’s going to go pee on the potty when we get home. Knowing we’re about 20 minutes (at least) away from being home, what with checking out, loading up the car, and driving, I drive straight through the aisle to the restrooms. Which are being cleaned. The only other ones are at the back middle of the store, a good half mile away (okay, not really). So back we go with our full cart. Duplo begins fussing and losing his pacifier, which means he’s hungry, tired, or sick of his car seat.
6:55: Lego goes potty while I change Duplo’s diaper (hey, we were there anyway). We wash our hands and get back out to the cart. The minute I put Duplo in his seat, he starts to fuss again. Now he won’t keep the pacifier in his mouth at all. Uh oh. Remembering that we’re 20 minutes away from being home (at least), I head for the dressing rooms. As we approach, Daniel is crying, and the attendant just says, “Do you need to feed him?” “Yeah,” I reply, and she leads us to the handicapped dressing room.
Duplo was definitely hungry. While I’m feeding him, Lego opens the door to the dressing room. I freak out and yell at him to close it, and he does. “Why did you want me to close the door, Mommy?” he asks. So I explain a little about how people wear clothes and how we keep certain parts of our bodies private. This also seems like a good time to explain how he always needs to put his underwear back on right after going potty, so I tell him that too. Then he asks what the bar on the wall is for. So I explain about wheelchairs and how some people’s legs don’t work very well. He has no idea what a wheelchair is, but he seems to think it’s pretty cool. I tell him I’ll point one out next time I see one.
7:00: Duplo finishes one side, and, figuring he can wait until we’re home for the other side, I put everyone back in the cart and head for checkout. Finally. I put our regular items in one group and separate out the WIC items. I pay for the regular groceries. Then she scans and compares for voucher #1. I sign it. Then she scans and compares for voucher #2. I sign it. This really takes forever. I always feel bad for the people behind us in line. By the time I get the bags into our shopping cart, Duplo’s starting to get cranky again.
7:08: Lego’s taking off his coat, which he has worn the whole time. I tell him we’re going outside now, where it will be cold. As I’m pushing the cart, he tells me every two seconds to zip up his coat. But at this point, I’m on a mission. We need to get home, feed Duplo, eat dinner ourselves, and get both boys to bed. I don’t stop. I just hurry out to the car.
Which I can’t find. This almost never happens to me. I look down the aisle I’m pretty sure I parked on, but don’t find it. It’s not on the one further east either. I’m pretty sure I didn’t park further east than that. I look back on the first aisle just to make sure. No car. Recheck the second aisle. Did someone steal my car? Why would they? It’s 15 years old and messy, with child seats and garbage in it. Okay. Maybe I did park further east. Yep. There it is. Since it’s kind of cold, I put both boys in the car first and then put the bags in the trunk.
7:13: When I get in the car, Duplo’s screaming. It sounds like he’s dying. Lego’s singing him his (Lego’s) favorite lullabye, “My Pigeon House.” When he finishes, he starts another song. As I’m driving, I start to sing along, but Lego tells me not to. Okay. After a few songs, Lego tells me he doesn’t like it when Duplo cries. I tell him I don’t either, but we really need to get home. I start talking to Duplo as soothingly as I can about how we’re going home and how I know he’s tired and hungry. Every time I stop at a light, I put his pacifier back in his mouth, which stops the crying for 0.002 seconds.
7:25: We arrive home. I get both boys out and inside, where I nurse Duplo while Jon Boy carries the bags in. By 7:30, the trip is officially over. Almost three hours later.
Excuse me while I collapse now.