I build up my resolve that we WILL be in and out in an hour's time as I gather my things, and take a deep breath as we enter the land of flourescent lit hell.
After searching for the "right" buggy (my kids will only ride in the two-seater kind that I'm sure have resulted in multiple customer injuries because they are impossible to steer...I'm still nursing a bruised ankle from the last trip) and strapping the kids in, we are finally ready to get started. Everyone wants to be part of the action and excitement of choosing fruits and veggies from the produce section, so each child is given a plastic sack and one item to place inside. After dropping and hopelessly bruising at least three apples, kissing a cucumber b/c it looks like Larry, and frantically wiping off the baby's hands after she grabbed a handful of jalapenos, we head for the next area.
Everything is going well, but out of the corner of my eye I see a mother trying in vain to get thru the check-out line with a child who has just had it. I hear shrieking and "I don't want a cookie if I'm good!" as I quickly push my children away from the highly contagious whines.
35 minutes later (and after opening a package of teddy grahams and saltines for my STARVING children), we are there, the gleaming with goodies line for the registers. My stars, there is more candy here than I saw at Halloween, and aren't we just so thankful to the person who schemed against mothers everywhere by placing them within reach of even the youngest child? The sun rises in the east, the earth rotates around the sun, and in keeping with the laws of nature, there is not a single line with less than three people. It's a little like playing the craps table in Vegas, but I choose a line and commit to it, almost audibly willing it to be the right number, which it almost invariably is not.
The cashier gives my children a smile and says, "oh, how adorable" or something like that as she begins scanning my groceries. Her smile becomes slightly less enthusiastic when the baby reaches over and grabs the electronic pen to taste test it, and even less (if that's possible) genuine when I have to excuse myself for just a second to place back the half a dozen candy bars my 4-year-old has brought to me.
But at long last, receipt in hand and with T minus 5 minutes til the next scheduled toddler meltdown, I feel a small glimmer of pride. I have conquered the grocery store. I have chosen healthy foods (I pretend not to see the bag containing mommy's secret stash of dove chocolates or the half-eaten package of cookies I bribed my kids with). I have fulfilled my half of the hunter/gatherer duo that is my marriage...and I do not look back when I hear a comment from someone who's forgotten what it's like when they see the dried chocolate on my baby's face.
With reluctance I acknowledge that we will meet again, the grocery store and I. And suddenly a starvation diet to lose that last ten pounds has never sounded so appealing....