Edgy Mama: Grocery store blues

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.


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9 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Grocery store blues

  1. Becky

    And let’s not forget the #@$% Ingles ‘store card’ you have to swipe to get the sale price, which is sometimes on the *other* key ring. Once I asked the guy behind me if I could let the cashier swipe his Ingles card cuz mine was our in the car, oops three bucks less per pound on shrimp!). He was NOT happy! In some obscure database somewhere, he bought shrimp. Maybe it was a religious thing :) That was the same day the guy in the Prius didn’t like how slow I was driving, and at first opportunity sped around me and shouted, “a******!” Well alrighty then eco-boy. You have a nice day too. Gee whiz. We’ve got to be kind to one another as we negotiate the stresses we’re kind of lucky to even be having (I hear groceries are limited in Iraq at the moment, not to mention Priuses.)

  2. Becky

    Oooo sarcasm. Only thing is, Anne’s is funny. There’s the one-up-on-ya stuff, and then there’s the kinder, funnier brand. Way too much of the former, not near enough of the latter.

  3. kathy

    Next time you are frustrated to be at the grocery store again, how about you just be thankful you can be there buying food for your family at all. I have a family of 5 and this week I only had $20 for groceries. Real stress and frustration is figuring out how you can eat for a week, having to bag your own groceries is made up stress.

  4. therapydoc

    I hate it all, the shopping, the laundry. All I like is doing dishes. That makes me happy, the warm water, the clean glass.

  5. cloudydeb

    If you can do the shopping w/out yer kids, it’s really not that bad…take a cup of coffee, and your time, stare at the pretty packages mindlessly, and buy yerself some really awesome treat(bottle of wine, chocolate?)! Don’t get stressed about the bagging, the asshole impatiently stamping his foot behind you (which means you should move EVEN SLOWER), or the eco-twit (I mean this purely in jest)in the Prius.
    Or…ask the hubby to go instead while YOU enjoy some down-time at the park blowing bubbles with your kids:)

  6. Stephanie Shannonberg

    I wish all I had to complain about was doing the lawndry or going grocery shopping. While my husband goes out and slays dragons to feed the bank account. You sure have a tough life there Edgy Mom.

  7. Dwayne

    Geez ya’ll, Anne’s got her tongue firmly in her cheek, sounds like to me. Lighten up a little folks. I know it’s tough times and all, but all the more reason for a little harmless kvetching. Maybe even a little whine with cheese and crackers.

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