My whole entire life revolves around carts. Store carts. Okay, not my whole life, but most of my mother-strategizing revolves around carts.
When I had one child, the extent of my tactical planning about shopping was 1) bring some goldfish crackers, and 2) park near the cart corral in the parking lot.
Once I had three children under three, however, the logistics were cranked up to a whole new level. We’re talking The Situation Room just to leave the house. Intelligence analysis. I had one who couldn’t reliably walk through a store and two who couldn’t hold their own heads up. Shopping carts were not an option at all. My only option for shopping alone was to take my triple stroller. I could only buy what would fit in the basket of the triple stroller, and (I’m speaking from experience here) that was NOT a pack of diapers or a can of formula.
Once the twins could, you know, sit up, my options improved dramatically. Then I could actually fit two kids in the front of a cart, and one kid in the back. The problem with this plan was that the only place that had double-seater carts was Costco. So, at least I could go to Costco, right? Right – if all I wanted to buy was maybe a can of formula. Not much else is going to fit in the back of a cart with a kid back there.
Once my oldest could reliably walk beside me in a store, my options opened up ever more. Then I could go to Costco, with the twins in the double-seater front of the cart, and my oldest walking beside me. (I still couldn’t go anywhere else, because nowhere else has double-seaters. And I can’t trust either twin to sit in the back of a cart yet.) I could fill up the back of the cart with all our groceries, instead of my kid. Well, I could do that… when I wanted him to whine “I’m tired. My legs hurt. I want to go home. I can’t walk.” through the entire store.
Another option that became possible was shopping with the double stroller, which is SO much lighter than the triple stroller, while having my oldest walk through the store (again, while tantrum-ing). I could only buy what would fit in the bottom basket of that stroller, though, or what would balance precariously on the top of the handles of the stroller.
I, of course, buy diapers in bulk, so I have to balance that bulk box on top of the handles of the stroller, while steering it, and while a grouchy kid clings to my legs. Suddenly, he will decide he wants to steer the stroller himself, which keeps him happy and then I can carry the big box in my arms… until he careens into innocent bystanders.
And SPEAKING OF BYSTANDERS,
Why does no one ever help me? I think I look pretty friendly and open. Maybe it’s because I have the look of a crazed animal in my eyes. Maybe it’s because I haven’t slept in years and my ponytail is always askew. I think if I saw a mother with three children careening around and a giant box of diapers balanced precariously on top of the extremely-heavy-and-hard-to-push stroller, I would offer to help. But nope. Never. What’s the point of living in the south if no one is going to be chivalrous? Sheesh.
-getting two carts. I push one and pull the other. I look ridiculous, I crash a lot, I usually amputate one of my kids’ legs, and it really hurts my wrists. But it works in an emergency.
-asking a friend to meet me there and push a cart for me. This only works if you have friends without children. Or friends with children in school. Since I am mostly friends with other Mormon moms who have about 17 children each who aren’t yet in kindergarten, this option is a pipe dream.
-parking next to the BIG DADDY CART.
<— You know what I’m talking about. Each Target has, like, maybe one of these things.
The Holy Grail of Carts, The Big Daddy Cart, is the monstrosity with the cart and the wagon all together. This cart fits one child in the basket and two children in the wagon. Sadly, my Target does not have one of these. Sometimes, I will drive ten more minutes to the next-closest-Target, hoping against hope that I can get that cart. I believe the next-closest-Target has one of these crazy contraptions in its entire store. ONE TIME, I was lucky enough to snag it… and my husband happened to be there that time, so I didn’t even need it anyway.
And, the only possible way that I can even USE the Big Daddy Cart is if it happens to be in the parking lot cart corral. I will circle the entire parking lot in my minivan, looking for that thing. If that thing is in the store, how exactly am I supposed to get all three kids across the great expanse of life-endangering parking lot? One of my kids is a bolt of lightning who doesn’t hold hands. I would have to secure the twins in the double stroller just to get them across the parking lot, then hope that the Big Daddy Cart would be waiting for me inside. Then I could fold up the double stroller and put it inside the Big Daddy Cart with all three children. Then I could shop.
It never works. I usually can’t find the Big Daddy Cart and then I am just stuck with buying, again, what will fit in the basket or what I dare to balance on top of the handles, while my oldest yells that his legs don’t work anymore and he needs to lie down on the Target floor for a rest.
And, oh, yeah, he has to go to the bathroom now, too.
Just then, a mom with merely twins casually strolls by me in the only Big Daddy Cart in the whole store, with ONE EMPTY SEAT. How dare she? She smiles at me with her non-askew ponytail and I want to make it go askew.
Just FYI, I don’t attempt any of these maneuvers on a regular basis. My husband took over the grocery shopping when I was on bedrest – and I will take it back when the twins go to Kindergarten. Or college. I do the shopping for the diapers/household goods/accidentally-purchased-cute-dresses when my sweet in-laws come for their weekly visit. I am a very lucky momma.