I often refer to laundry as the Sisyphean stone of parenthood. It’s the number one never-ending chore of parenting. Number two, after laundry, comes grocery shopping.
I don’t remember much about grocery shopping when I was single or coupled but childfree. It was something I did quickly, after work, maybe once or twice a week — not one of the boulders I had to push uphill daily.
Now grocery shopping’s one of the chores I dread the most. Why? Because not a day goes by that I don’t need to visit the grocery store. I swear I spend more time grocery shopping than I do sleeping. Which explains a lot about my general state of mind.
Even when I’m organized, and I’ve made a comprehensive shopping list, without fail I’ll forget to purchase something essential. Something like toilet paper or milk. Something that I must pick up immediately or the wrath of the Furies (or furious kidlings) will descend upon me.
Yes, Asheville is home to some nice grocery stores, most with a decent selection of local and organic foodstuffs. Regardless, I cannot get excited about grocery shopping. Plus, food shopping gives me sticker shock, especially lately. Grocery stores are also time and brain sinks. No matter how hard I focus on what I need, inevitably I’m seduced by the glare of the fluorescent lights and lotus-like food packaging.
Suddenly, I’m no longer in the grocery store; I’m lost in the Labyrinth. I must find my way through the maze, not to slay the Minotaur, but to find the shortest checkout line. Then I must endure some of the lesser-known labors of Hercules: bagging, the credit card slide, and car trunk loading.
Since I’m eco-committed, I bring my own bags, so I’ve learned to bag groceries myself. I’m not sure why, but in many cases, offering your own bags means bagging your own groceries. Cashiers don’t seem to want to touch the dirt-contaminated bags I carry around. Not that I blame them. “What’s that smell?” “Just some smushed fermenting grapes in the bottom of my hemp bag.”
Next I run the payment gamut. I rarely carry cash. If I do, it’s certainly not enough to cover the $100 or so necessary to escape the Labyrinth with limbs intact. So I use my credit card, which never works the first time. Only after two to four slides through the card reader does my card agree to shell out $4 for one red bell pepper.
In the meantime, those behind me in line tap their toes and try to calm their kidlings, who are frenzied by their proximity to rows and rows of corn syrup-laden sweets. Candy placement in grocery stores clearly is meant to teach kids the the myth of Tantalus. Or to teach parents tantrum-coping skills.
Finally, there’s loading the car trunk. I could ask for help with this, but I’m a strong female trained in the ways of Betty Friedan. I can do it myself, thank you very much. And if, in the process, I drop the glass bottle of juice, which shatters on the asphalt, because I’m unable to properly bag my groceries in my own smelly, but environmentally friendly, bags?
Fate. Or destiny. I’m not sure which.
Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.