I have recently gotten into bargain shopping. Grocery shopping has become, dare I say, a hobby. I religiously clip coupons from my four papers, organize them, pour over store advertisements and watch a website to help me with all this madness. My four-year-old will yell in support, “Wow, great bargain mom!” in the aisles of the grocery store and knows by sight the names of the many stores we frequent.
Excited to have the four-year-old in preschool, and with only the one-year-old in tow, I headed off to the market. My list was organized, my coupons were cut and in order, the baby was fed and is generally happy guy–this would be a piece of cake. We had two stops to make. The first was for some great deals at the local drug store. I placed my strapping young fellow in the seat of the miniature cart and raced to the toilet paper isle, fearing as I do on a Wednesday, that everyone else will have gotten there first. I was in luck. I filled my cart full of toilet paper: an amazing deal. Halfway through my stockpiling I realized that the dwarf-sized cart would not be sufficient to hold all my treasures. With cart in tow, we headed to the front to get a second one.
My son, realizing his boredom, found that if he stretched just enough, he could grab a pack of toilet paper from the cart and pitch it over the edge! A game that made him giggle hysterically. While sweating, I managed to wrangle all the necessary toilet paper into my two carts, retrieve the flying packages (the kid is developing a nice arm) and make it up to the front counter. Here the woman complemented my son on what an infectious giggle he had, that she could “hear it all over the store.” I smiled a serene smile, while feeling the stress inside, just glad to have the first stop over.
Next was the grocery store. It was rather uneventful, going smoothly and rather quickly. My stress had diminished and I was again feeling the euphoria of my bargains. With a cart halfway full, standing in the cereal isle, a young woman started asking questions about the rules of the sale. I turned my back to help her, explaining all the wisdom I had acquired on the subject, feeling quite satisfied with myself at being able to help out this newly-married, poor, college student. I turned around to hear a splat and a hysterical giggle. My son, under the watchful eye of an employee walking down the isle, had thrown a container of cottage cheese over the edge. He was staring at his mess, laughing. What kind of a kid was I raising, who laughed at being naughty? What a bad mom–not even watching the kid, too busy disseminating knowledge to strangers! The glaring clerk cleaned up the mess, as I profusely apologized. We quickly finished up, and left to pick up the preschooler.
On the drive home, I promised to no longer shop with the children. Midnight runs to the grocery store in my pajamas would probably be my equivalent to a day at the spa, I told myself. Who needs sleep? It would be much better to not have to endure all this. I had only had one with me, two is utter chaos and note to self, I cannot handle more children.
The day moved on with its other normal events: cleaning, laundry, dinner, etc, to the golden hour when Dad gets home…ahhh relief. We sat down to dinner, where before I can ever get my first bite in, I am accosted with “Mom, what was your sweet today?” Now, I started this–it was my idea, and truly it is a ritual I enjoy. We go around the table sharing something good that happened to us that day. But, my daughter takes ritual, habit and routine to a whole new level (a challenge for her scatter-brained mother). The questions must be asked in the exact right way, the order of people being asked (mom, dad, baby, then her last…always last) must never be deviated from. Even company must participate. Conversation may not continue, move on, or become sidetracked without first finishing this tradition.
Truth be told, “What was your sweet today?” is sometimes a hard question for me to answer. Can’t we just skip me today? Not a chance. First of all., I am barely certain everyone has what they need, the food has not been properly cut into un-chokable sizes, the milk not been poured, when my brain needs to stop its state of perpetual motion to remember the events of the day. Second, I am ashamed to admit that while being a mom of two young children I often forget to recognize what was sweet in my day. I’m sure there have been a hundred things, but I often can’t even think of one. What an exercise in gratitude this small moment in the day has been for me.
On the other hand, answering the next question is often too easy. The next thing asked is what was your sour, which my daughter always must ask as “What was something sad that made you sad?” Her answer is always, “Nothing made me sad,” despite perhaps the screaming fit she had at the park or the eight times she attended time out that day. I can usually think of many things and have to narrow it down to the choicest moment of the day, something really good to complain about, and let my husband know what a rough day I’ve had. Today I shared the story of the baby pitching items out of the cart. Everyone, including myself was laughing and enjoying the craziness of my life.
It made me stop and think that if I didn’t have these moments, what would I share for my sour? I am working on remembering during the stressful moments to take a deep breath, smile and think to myself, “Well, this will make a great sour for tonight.” I, of course, am doing a much better job at the sweets. I am taking moments to stop and find the joy in my daily activities. I hear these years pass too quickly, I don’t know if I believe that, but I’ll try to trust those older, wiser women and enjoy both my sweets and sours.
QUESTION: Can you start collecting your “sweets” and “sours”?
CHALLENGE: Realize everyone’s got both. Learn to enjoy them!
Image from FreeDigitalPhotos.