Back to reality

Having enjoyed/survived an overly indulgent weekend at my parents it’s back to reality, school runs, food shops, cleaning, play dates etc.

As a parent, in my limited experience, you find yourself looking for time saving short cuts to give yourself those “Extra 5 Minutes”. Whether it’s using 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner to speed up the showering process or using the “expensive” nappies at night hoping to get past the 4.30am wake up mark. Whatever it is you are delighted when you find it. 

My recent discovery was a stair specific hoover attachment that reduced the stair vacuuming process to under 1 minute. I was so delighted I nearly text my entire phone book vowing to name my next child “Henry” in honour of the hoover. 

A process I had overlooked however was the food shop. Historically I have dabbled with online shopping but never found it as satisfying as doing it in person. I used to feel as though I had adulthood nailed by pushing a trolley around the supermarket and buying essentials like toilet paper and light bulbs. I even bought the “trolley bags”, the multicoloured Velcro numbers that extended in your trolley. Every self sufficient persons dream. I was winning. I was smug.

Then came along our little bundle The Baby.

Gone were the days of “nipping” to the shop. Now it’s a military style exercise, nappy changed before going in the car seat, toy to entertain whilst in the car seat, nappy bag, muslin, Bastard Dummy, spare bottle, spare change of clothes, recycled bags and we’re off. Believe it or not, that’s the quick version!

Online shopping seemed like the way forward. I was back to winning, back to being smug. Until I began arguing with the “friendly” text message service notifying me of the status of my delivery. Late. Always fucking late. 

I phone customer service to find out what’s going on and to point out that I’ve picked a delivery slot for a reason. The reason being “IM NOT FUCKING THERE AFTERWARDS”. Acting like I’m the only person ever to have had children or order food online I do my best “I want compensation” routine. As I’m mid flow the door knocks with my delivery. Bollocks. I style it out with a “forget it, I’m too angry to discuss it further” and hang up with a bit of shame. 

Having successfully avoided touching the germ ridden signature machine I unpack my delivery. Substitutes. Always fucking substitutes. “You ordered a rib eye steak, we have replaced this with dust”. Useless. I vow never to shop online again. 

This brings us back to today. Having returned home it’s evident I will need to venture out to the supermarket in person. 

Now comes the decision making process – where to go. There are various factors that help me reach that decision. 

  1. Size of the food shop? If we only need a couple of bits I will go to our local supermarket putting The Baby’s car seat in the trolley and load up around him. Note – if you do this, shove the wine bottles upside down in the corners of the trolley, it’s real space saver. If we need a full shop then it’s off to a supermarket that has the baby seats attached to the trolley. 
  1. How much time do I have? Do I have a play date? Am I on the school run? What housework have I got? Can I get away with just dinner for tonight and do an online shop for tomorrow?
  1. What mood is The Baby in? Given his hated for the car seat can I drive a little further today? Did he consume enough milk and naps earlier to leave the house without screaming? 

Assessing our situation I decide that we need to go to a babyseat supermarket, we have time before the school run and although The Baby is in a foul mood (teething) we need to go.

Everything packed and ready I load my screaming son into the car, stopping at every traffic light (of which there are hundreds in Northampton) to put the Bastard Dummy back in and we’re off.

Remembering I can park in parent and child now I load The Baby (still screaming) into the trolley and off we go.

He’s calmed down, he’s distracted. For some reason this makes me think I have all the time in the world. I’m dawdling, I’m looking in the book isle, I’m sniffing candles, I’m testing out children’s toys. I’ve lost all focus. An older couple have commented on the cute baby who is giggling and cooing. I wheel him around so they can get a better look and bathe in their compliments. 

Why did I ever think online shopping was easier? This is great!

Then I notice clouds forming above the trolley, the mood has changed, the fun has dispersed and he is ready to leave. I look in the trolley realising all that’s in there is a fairy castle for The Small One’s birthday in 2 weeks and an enchilada kit. Oh. Holy. Hell.

Apologising profusely and I’m my best “everything’s fine” voice I start shopping like a madwoman. Throwing cucumber around like it’s becoming extinct. 

The Baby is now full on screaming. The tongue is flapping which means he’s inconsolable. It also means he’s probably dirty. I don’t know what to do, I’ve never encountered the “I’ve shat myself” during a shop before.

My trolley is half full, I don’t know where the toilet is, do I abandon it? How much have I got left to do? Before I get a chance to think a stranger has tapped me on the arm saying “can I have a look? I just love babies”.  Before I know it he’s shoved his head towards The Baby and is gesturing excitedly towards him. My traitor son starts laughing. I’m sweating at this point, I want this stranger to fuck off so I can finish this god awful process and go home. So when The Baby starts crying and the man is saying “what’s wrong with him” I should have said “he’s sitting in his own shit, I think you’d be crying too!”. Instead I advise he’s tired and I need to get going.

Having shaken off the weird baby loving stranger and deciding Tesco is now on my list of unsafe baby environments I carry on.

The Baby has upped the ante and is now wailing. Against my better judgement I pick him up. He instantly stops. Whilst I want to console him I also don’t want him thinking that behaviour will be rewarded.

I carry him, pushing the trolley with my stomach and one arm until I can’t feel my fingers. Back in he goes and so begins the screaming.

Fuck it, the kids can have whatever’s in the trolley for dinner. I don’t care if it’s fish fingers and fruit salad, it can be like Ready Steady Cook.

Loading up the conveyor belt whilst rocking the trolley I am trying to remain calm as the check out attendant asks me questions. “How old is he?”, “is he your first”. Listen lady, the only question I want to hear right now is “do you want any help packing”??!! I politely answer her questions as I manically bag the food in no particular order. I am nearly done and ready to pay when another strange pensioner has come up and is trying to put the Bastard Dummy in his mouth (good luck with that). Fear overwhelms me, GERMS, STRANGER, STOP TOUCHING MY CHILD. She is a sweet old lady trying to help but I see a child stealing witch trying to feed him glass. 

She too is asking me questions, in the end I snap, my shopping has come to £138, I have no idea what I’ve bought, he’s screaming and I forgot my Clubcard.

I say to her “I’m sorry but I really need to go and the longer I stand here talking to you the longer he’s going to cry”. I feel terrible but she takes it well. I hope to god she’s going home to a family and not alone with that being her one conversation of the week.

Feeling like the worst mother and person in the world I load up the car, return the trolley, put a screaming Baby back into the car seat and go home via every possible traffic light. In tears. Realising I’ve forgotten the butter.

Oh well, I’ll just “nip” to the shop later.


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