First of all, before I start my tirade, I do want to thank you for bagging my groceries. Not many stores have a designated bagger so that’s nice. I also think it’s great that you are working after school instead of staying home and taking drugs and making out with girls or whatever the kids are doing these days. So, good for you! But I do have a few tips for you and I hope you don’t mind if I share them:
Stop Making the Bags So Freakin’ Heavy
You are obviously very gifted in the spacial intelligence category. I can tell that you are a genius at tetris just by looking at the incredible amount of items you are able to fit into my grocery bag. I mean I would have stopped at two cartons of juice, but you were somehow able to also fit eight boxes of mac and cheese, 2 pounds of butter, a bunch of bananas and a pineapple. It’s like you’ve somehow magically changed my reusable bag into a Mary Poppins carpet bag!
When you pick up the bag to add it to my cart, I can see that you have no trouble at all, what with all that fresh testosterone coursing through your veins, but honey, I’m nearly over the hill, pushing a cart full of kids, so please just stop. I cannot lift this ridiculously heavy bag! Just because you can fit all the things in one bag, doesn’t mean you should.
Don’t Give My Kids Stickers
Honestly I feel bad even suggesting this because it’s such a nice gesture on your part. But I have to be frank here. In the big wide world of stickers, yours are the worst. They barely stick and they feature cartoon animals that no one can really recognize. Like, is this green thing with a beak supposed to be a duck or a platypus? Plus, it only just adds to the time I’m trapped in this store with my adorable little monsters. Then, once you finally find the stickers and pull off four unidentifiable creatures, my kids inevitably fight over who gets the pink elephanty hippo-ish looking animal, which in turn causes added referee work for me.
Don’t Accuse Me of Stealing
Yes, it’s true that I snagged my gallons of milk off the conveyor belt before you were able to slap some paid stickers on them and I’m sorry if I overstepped the bagger boundary, but do you really think I stole them? When you pointed to the gallons in my cart, I was a little worried that you were going to remove them and place both in a bag along with an anvil, but then you so politely clarified by telling me that you just wanted to make sure the cashier rung them up. Seriously, dude? I know people steal; but I’m still insulted that you are in fact, accusing me of stealing to my very face. Maybe next time you think someone is stealing, you can ask the cashier in a more discreet manner.
So, there are some tips for you! Other than these very minor improvements, I think you are well on your way to being an excellent grocery store bagger, or perhaps an expert trunk packer/weight lifter.
The middle age woman who literally could not lift most of her bags and had to unpack them to put them in her minivan and who definitely does not steal milk from grocery store.
I see you Yelly Mom. You gave your two year old a little bag of goldfish because you thought that would stop her from reaching out of the cart to knock stuff off the shelves and it did, but not for long. The calm only lasted until she spilled her goldfish, leaving you with a big crumbly mess and an inconsolable toddler who doesn’t want another bag of goldfish, she wanted that bag of goldfish.
Your five year old, who is exhausted from a long morning at kindergarten, has finally stopped asking you if you can buy him every damn toy he sees and has taken to running ahead, oh wait, now he’s lagging behind, aaaaaand now he’s running off again.
Your kids are miserable and whining and at the end of their rope and you know how they feel. And here comes the frustration out of your mouth-the yelling. In an attempt to control this MESS of a situation, in an attempt to end this shopping disaster as soon as possible, you start yelling at your kids.
There are people in this store who are judging you, some are giving you dirty looks and maybe, the bolder ones, unsolicited advice on how to properly parent your kids. I know what they see. They see you in this one moment, where you have lost your patience and are snapping at your kids.
They didn’t see you in all those moments before. So many moments-from the time you unstrapped your kids from their car seats, got them safely through the parking lot, and found a cart with two seats so they wouldn’t fight over who gets to sit in the cart. They didn’t see all the moments you gently pulled your two year old’s arm away from the packs of diapers that she desperately wants to throw on the floor or all the times you patiently and politely asked your son to stay with you.
I saw you in those moments Yelly Mom, hell, I’ve been you in those moments! I know that you regret yelling at your kids and I know that you are at the end of your rope today. This isn’t your best parenting moment and it is on display in a store full of judging eyes. Please know that I am not judging you, in fact I am praying for you. When I see you in the store, frazzled and stressed, know that I am praying-asking God to fill you with his peace and to give you his patience. I don’t know if it’s going to work and miraculously fix this moment for you or if you need to throw today out and start again fresh tomorrow. But please know that I see you in all your moments, and I’m praying for you.
This here is my minivan, Bertha. Ain’t she purdy?
She looks like a Bertha, right? If she were a person I imagine she’d be in her mid 60’s with big fluffy grayish white hair that curls away from her face. She’d be chubby wear cardigans and comfortable brown shoes. Sometimes she’d be a little grouchy when her gout was acting up but mostly she’d be cheerful.
She looks great in this picture – but don’t be fooled. I got lucky with that lighting. Really Bertha is pretty beat up. First there’s this rusty scrape that goes allllll the way down the right side of the car from when that guard rail came from out of nowhere. Honestly, I haven’t even washed her since then because it’s like, what’s the point?
Then there are various dents and bumps and scrapes from throwing my kayak on top and having kids who like to play frisbee and wiffle ball in the driveway.
There is a spot on the windshield that never gets clean because even though the wipers work and the washer fluid is full, the washer fluid sprays all areas of the windshield except for the section right in front of my face.
The automatic door on the right doesn’t obey the automatic door button and doesn’t lock automatically either. And no, it wasn’t because of the guard rail incident; it was broken before then.
The automatic door on the left works most of the time. Except for when it doesn’t. But it works well enough so that when you push the button, you walk away expecting it to close without checking it. And then you come out of karate an hour and a half later to find a gang of raccoons helping themselves to month old french fries. Ok, that last part may have been a little bit of an exaggeration.
The air conditioner doesn’t work. Well, it does work kind of. It blows cold air out of all the vents except the ones on the driver. Those blow burning hot air.
If it rained overnight I can’t steer for a few blocks.
The brakes squeak, well not the braks, but the break pedal. When I push it down it makes a faint, high pitched, “wheep,” like a sad little guinea pig.
It’s hard to explain the noise she makes when she’s idling, but it doesn’t sound good. It sounds like she’s tired, she’s struggling.
And so we are getting ready to say goodbye. And I am surprised that I’m feeling kind of sad about it. I thought I’d be ready to kick her to the curb and get a new, sleek van with a camera to help me back up and maybe some of that satellite radio and maybe even a DVD player built in for long trips!
But, as I think about getting rid of this van, I think about all the time she’s been with our family.
All the times I drove around with one, or two, or three crying babies trying to lull them to sleep. The time when the girls were 3 and everything was hard and cooking dinner seemed like an impossible task so we scrapped it and hopped in Bertha to go out for ice cream. The time we got stuck in traffic on a bridge for 2 hours and I cried in the backseat along with the kids. The time we brought our cat home and she made cute little squeaking sounds the whole way home. The time the car overheated and we pulled over in front of my 6th grade crush’s house to wait for Daddy to come rescue us. All the trips to the doctors office, the sing-a-longs, the fights and the giggles, the chit chats, the prayers for passing ambulances, the everyday conversations.
When I started this post, I thought I’d end up at fake sentimentality. I thought I’d make a few jokes about how “important” a minivan is to a stay at home mom. But now that I’m here at the end of the post, I’m a little embarrassed to say that the fake sentimentality has turned real. And now I’m not really sure where to go with this. I wanted to end on a funny note but now I’m feeling a little melancholy. So much of our life is tied to that van.
So I guess I’ll just end by saying, “Thanks Bertha.”