For just a few fleeting moments at the grocery store, pushing that cart without anyone hitting me in the head with a sippy cup or begging me for cereal that turns the milk pink, I remembered what it was like to shop before I had kids. I leisurely explored the nutritional information on a container of part-skim ricotta cheese as someone else’s kid had a tantrum in the cart next to me. It was lovely. Then an older woman said to me, “Excuse me dear, my granddaughter is turning four. Do you think she’d like the Dora the Explorer yogurt or the iCarly yogurt?” Without blinking, I said, “Almost four? Dora, without question.” And then I thought, “OMG, how did she know I would be able to answer that question??” Thinking mommy-pooch was the giveaway, I sucked in my gut and swapped my part-skim ricotta for fat-free.
As I put it in the cart, though, I realized that the fact that I had to balance it in between a huge crate of Cutie’s tangerines, nine boxes of Amy’s Organic Kids frozen meals and four containers of milk–two whole for the baby, one 1% for the kids and husband, and skim for me–that probably clued her in to the fact that I knew exactly what kind of yogurt her granddaughter would like. The cart was piled so high I had to peek out of the side to see where I was going when I pushed it. So much for my brief moment of feeling like an unencumbered single chick. (Unencumbered single chicks buy ice cream, wine and Lean Cuisines, from what I recall.)
When the pre-pubescent bag boy got extra sassy with me in the checkout line, I once again had a fleeting moment of glee, thinking I’d tricked this poor kid who’d just started shaving into thinking I could be an unencumbered single chick. Then I realized he probably saw the $234.98 order being rung up and was just jockeying for a tip, if I’d agree to let him help me haul my loot to the car.
But when I got home, the baby was still napping and my former purveyor of Dora yogurt (who now indeed prefers iCarly) was excited to bake brownies with me, and I felt pretty good about my Mommy label, because being encumbered is really, really a great thing, most of the time.