A vigilante armed with reusable bags
Steadfast, each Saturday I wake to two nemeses: Mount Laundry (OF DOOM) and Foodless Kitchen. Washing a week’s worth of clothes for a family of five and shopping for a week’s worth of groceries for the same number is all kinds of time consuming, and my first instinct, always, is to ignore it and hope the problem goes away. (Pro tip: It never does.)
Once Sunday rolled around, I finally had a list cobbled together (which is over half the battle) and time carved out of the afternoon for shoppin’ and schleppin’, and most importantly, I was teeming with gumption. It had to be gumption that made me decide that I would go grocery shopping with 15-month old Max—most definitely the least helpful member of the family to take with me on such an errand. However, gumption. So load up and go I did, toddlery guy in tow.
I didn’t get into the habit much with Noah and Rosie (read: I never did it with them), but have since discovered the truth: babywearing is the bomb. When Colic Con came to our house last summer, I became a convert to the religion of wearing any kind of contraption that holds your baby to you and leaves your hands free to do something, anything else than hold said baby (whom you’re likely to need–and want–to hold for multiple hours). It is my belief, in fact, that the rise and fall of nations have indirectly been caused by the practice. I bet the Romans would still be on top, if only they’d figured out how to configure those togas into a nice baby-holding wrappity-wrap for the ladies. Saner mamas = stronger countries. That’s just science, y’all. ‘Murica, I’m lookin’ at you.
So yes, babywearing is full of all kinds of win, and I have been toting Max around since he was wee, but what I have not been doing is toting him on my back with no one around to help actually situate him there in the first place. This was a small detail I forgot until we were 15 minutes from home and firmly parked in the tiny space at the Prius-packed Trader Joe’s, strollerless. So unless I wanted to try and shop with a mobile mini-guy in a tiny cart seat—or worse, walking alongside me—for the duration of procuring a lengthy list of seven days of dinner ingredients, it was in the carrier on my back he was going, experience loading in solo or not. The way I decided to deal with the situation is illustrative of much of my parenting thus far in life: I faked it till I maked it.
Of course, it’s August in Atlanta, and unless you live here, you haven’t experienced how hot this month actually feels, and we happened to be atop a slab of asphalt at 3:30 in the afternoon. The wall of heat hits you the second you open your car door and pummels you like an annoying neighborhood kid latched onto your back in the pool. So it was in this very heat I stood for 10 minutes (no exaggeration) with Max in various states of flung-ness on my back, trying to strap him in to my carrier. Several grocery store patrons passed by and made that noise where you suck air in really fast through your teeth like a disaster is happening, and at least one approached me with arms outstretched, attempting to spot Max from behind. (HE WAS FINE YOU GUYS.)
Through all of this, Max took the opportunity to practice his newest (and my favorite) phrase, “OH NOOOOOO!” on repeat, which made a comical situation about 17 times more comical. Once the last buckle was clicked, and all the hitching that needed to be hitched (adjusting Max into the carrier, and also hoisting up my pants, which had not stayed in place during this whole procedure) had been … hitched, I swiped my arm across my sweaty brow, triumphant. I AM BABY WRANGLER, HEAR ME ROAR. And maybe fan me off for a little bit with these coupons I’ve got in my purse, if you don’t mind, SHEW. Thank you.
Above photo taken during another (assisted) babywearing venture, but just picture us surrounded by produce, and you’ve got it.
Anyway, I think the lesson here is that no matter how many kids you have or how long you parent, you never run out of things you don’t know how to do. And likewise, you never run out of chances to get another small thing right.
Or maybe it’s always take your stroller with you, to all the places, just in case. One or the other.