Now that I’m no longer doing it with little kids or teenagers (or even with my husband), I have come to the realization that this every-day, taken-for-granted necessity is as complex and demanding as many top-dollar responsibilities.
Mood, energy level and hunger aside, the thought processes required to fulfill this obligation are exceedingly complex.
Preference, season, local, organic, sustainability, dietary, budgetary, bulk, sale, recipe, occasion, guests… What have I forgotten?
At 55, I cannot believe that anyone is expected to make multi-faceted decisions affecting family health, wellbeing & financial stability while simultaneously caring for children. Women must refuse to do so any longer. It is simply too taxing and motherhood is tax enough. (Men, however, should grocery shop with children as much as possible. For the next thousand years.)
I rarely shop on a Sunday and it was disheartening to see the aisles absent of men this morning, and instead populated by frantic mothers tending to the needs of children while carefully filling a cart.
If ever you ever come across a young mother grocery shopping without children in tow, she looks as if she is on vacation, so freed is her mind to focus or daydream; while men shopping alone often look perplexed or entirely ambivalent.
I always thought I loved grocery shopping. I used to cry when my mother left me behind. Once I could drive, I did the shopping for her. With several younger siblings, I may have simply been hungry. 8 gallons of milk is all I can remember. I can still see the white jugs lining the bottom of my cart with a signed check in my pocket.
When I was lucky enough to accompany my mother as a girl, she would coach me and my younger siblings before heading inside. “Previewing,” is what the educators call it now. Though uneducated, my mother was a brilliant developmentalist. As the eldest of 8 and the mother of 8 (with an absentee husband), this may have been a matter of survival. She often apologized, explaining that as her first, I had been her practice child.
When I went into teaching, she expressed alarm. “All those children,” she’d say, “How will you manage?” But I liked the order and routine of the classroom much better than the chaos and ambiguity of the home, as if those were my choices, which were much better than hers.
It turns out, I was anxious in the classroom too, just as I was in the home and in the grocery store, even alone.
What is this internal pressure?
I wasn’t born with it.
I suppose it was inherited through the generations of women asked to do so much at once with so little recognition of what it is they faced and considered and decided every hour of every day.
Mothers, AMAZE me.
WOMEN amaze me.
SIT DOWN, Women!
Put up your feet.
You deserve it.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
You are MORE than enough.
TAKE A BOW!