As I sit at my kitchen table armed with steaming hot coffee and pen and paper; I start my Costco list. Suddenly I feel my pulse quicken. Then out of nowhere, like a swarm of unwanted gnats, the memories come flooding in. Why do I subject myself to this? Why am I going back there?
It started out like any other day of my life. The kids were not being cooperative, but what else is new? Unfortunately, on this particular day, I had A LOT to do. I was getting ready to host a party at my house for about 40 people and I needed to fill up on food and supplies. Of course, that meant a run to Costco with my three littles. At the time, they were 6, 4 and 2. Running any errand with this gaggle of kids was not a task for the weak, but it needed to be done so I loaded them all up in my van and off we went.
When we arrived at Costco, the sun was shining and I was confident, despite the yelling and hitting on the way there, that this was going to be a successful outing. Let’s just say, I am an idiot! After essentially form tackling my kids into the cart, off we went. Once inside the building I tried to bribe the kids with my phone. Unfortunately, Costco is built like a cement fortress and there isn’t reception in that building at all. Nothing. At. All. Seriously, Costco? I could spend all day in Target because of the free Wi-Fi. Just load up my kiddos on my electronic devices and it’s like I’m on a mini-mommy vacation. Target should really serve wine too… I digress.
Back to Costco; I ran through the aisles as fast as I possibly could – think Baywatch style only greasy hair and a lot less skin! It did however, feel like slow motion because I was toting 3 kids who acted like they were in a torture camp. I managed to get to the end with the last of my emergency purse suckers and fruit snacks as well as promising my 2 year old a Batman Lego book because, who can really leave any store without that?
I was a hot mess by the time I reached the check outs. I was sweaty, stinky and in a very unpleasant mood after that hour and a half was up; but the end was in sight. As I started towards the check out, I opened my wallet to find only one credit card and it wasn’t something they take. So I parked my cart, grabbed all three kids by the hand and ran back to the car. Everyone was fuming and my youngest was screaming worse than when he gets shots (think pterodactyl screeching). I fumbled through my car to find my saving grace – a credit card in my center console (yes, I know it is not wise to put things here). We sprinted back to the store and unloaded our lot. Almost $300 later, I handed my credit card to the cashier. Declined. Are you freaking kidding me? There must be some mistake. The cashier was kind and probably a little afraid of me as she loaded up my prized possessions and set them off to the side. I let me youngest keep his Batman book as we walked over to the food court, unable to buy my hungry kids anything due to no money. I tried to call my husband to figure out how I could possibly pay for all of this. As soon as I dialed his number I remembered the cement bunker I was in and realized it wouldn’t happen.
I took a deep breath and tried to hold back my tears. I once again gathered the kids, ripped Batman once more from a screaming 2 year old and headed outside to call my husband. As I stood by the side of the building, I dialed him and much to my surprise, he actually answered! Unfortunately, the Costco no-call zone travels far into the parking lot. I could hear him but he couldn’t hear me. By this time, I was done. I had no dignity left. I yelled into my phone and sadly, swore. A lot. I hung up and dragged my kids, kicking and screaming back to the car as I silently cried. There was no way I could go back in and face the staff.
This was not one of my shining moments as a mother. If fact, it was one of my worst. I got the kids to the car and basically had to sit on my youngest to get him buckled. Why do 2 years olds have super human strength when they are throwing a tantrum? I started the car but could not move. I was paralyzed by my failure and angry because of my kids yelling at me and screaming from the back. In that instant, I lost the battle every mother faces everyday. The battle of both sanity and composure. In that moment I also lost my mind. I cried and the one glistening tear was followed by deep, loud sobs. It was not the time “pretty crying”, no, it was ugly. I cried the whole way home as my 2 year old screamed. My husband called several times during the drive but I couldn’t answer because I couldn’t speak. I could barely breath. Seeing my 2 oldest kids in the back of the van is what snapped me out of it. They were not moving and they were quiet for the first time all day. They were afraid of me. Truth be told, so was I.
That day at Costco is likely going to cost my husband and me years of therapy bills in upcoming years. Every time we pull in the parking lot they still say, “hey mom, remember that day you cried here?”. Yep, that is Costco in our family. The day mommy lost her mind. That day I felt so alone. Now I cannot help but wonder if other moms have days like this. Although I am sure other moms are pretty criers, but the emotions are still the same. We are all trying to do the best that we can for our kids and trying to make it through the day without a nervous breakdown. I think all parents need to take a step back and give each other a little grace. Parenting is difficult, it’s lonely and it’s ugly. That’s OK. It’s OK to feel like that and it’s OK to talk about it. Just remember the next time you try to hold yourself together, that eventually you will fall apart. You need others for support and to lift you up. Trust me, you don’t want to have the same Costco experience as I did!
Let’s say a prayer today for all mothers (and fathers). Let us build each other up and create a community that is warm and forgiving. One that is not afraid to share the ugly Costco stories of life.
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