I was at the grocery store waiting for my friend to join me. Yes, I was waiting for my friend to join me at the grocery store so we could multi-task by chatting and shopping at the same time. I guess we were catching up and ketchup-ing up. Wow. Really?
Anyhoo, while I was waiting for my shopping buddy, I ran into another mom from school. We began talking in grunts and whines about how OVER IT we both are. We lamented our lack of cooking creativity, our inability to get our sons to eat healthy foods, and our general feelings of motherhood failure. My favorite part was when she admitted the amount of bacon her son eats. Like, all day every day. This woman has four kids. I say let them eat bacon.
Then my friend showed up and joined in. We were all amazed at how similar we all feel on a daily basis. And then ANOTHER woman, this one a complete stranger, chimed in with “It sounds like you’re talking about my life.” I told her we WERE talking about her life because we all have the same damn story. We are trying to do too much in too little time, we never feel like we’re succeeding, and we always feel like we’re falling behind.
Then I stood on a pallette of oranges and pleaded with the other moms at Trader Joes.
“LADIES”, I began, “Please, lend me your ears for a moment. Are you tired?”
YES! Came the reply. Just one reply, but women were beginning to slowly walk toward me.
“LADIES! Are you OVERWHELMED?”
YES! More women now. Less timidly coming my way.
“LADIES! Are you LOST?”
AMEN, sister!! A woman in the frozen section stopped comparing the organic blueberries to the organic cultivated blueberries and looked up.
“SO AM I!” I accidentally spit when I said this, as my passion was taking over. One woman winced but didn’t avert her eyes. I had them.
“So am I.” I said it more quietly this time, remembering that a quieter voice draws people in.
At this point one of the Trader Joe’s managers tried to coerce me off the oranges. One woman booed. Another hissed. A baby began to cry. He backed off.
“So why, I ask you, are we trying to do everything on our OWN? WHY, I ask you, are we trying to be SUPER HEROES? WHY WHY WHY are we taking it upon OURSELVES to do it ALL?”
A chant began. Softly, at first. But then it began to rise. A young man asked someone where he could find the nitrate-free turkey but was cut off by “why. why. why. why. why. why. why.”
“WHY”, I continued as they chanted underneath my sermon, “Why have we put this pressure on ourselves? Why have we become so solitary in our work? Why is it only MY job to make three square meals a day for my family? Why is it only MY job to clean under the couch? Why is it only ME who comes to this god-forsaken-no-parking-hippy-solicitor market to fill my fridge? Why do I have to do it all, plus the laundry and the bills and the folding and the banking all before I pick up my child at 2:23?”
why. why. why. why. why. why. why.
A pregnant woman was weeping.
“What happened to, ‘It takes a village’? Has my village been plundered??”
“Have my villagers forsaken me?’
“Have I forsaken THEM?”
why. why. why. why. why. why. why. why.
“I say it’s time. I say it’s time for us to rise TOGETHER. I say it’s time for YOU to do my shopping and for ME to do YOUR laundry. I say it’s time for YOU to pick up my dry-cleaning while I pick up YOUR child from school. I say it’s time for YOU to sip some tea while I mop your floor, and it’s time for ME to do some yoga while YOU make me something INTERESTING for DINNER!”
The chant changed. time. time. time. time. time. time. time. time.
“I say it’s time MY son learned to eat some green fucking vegetables, and he’ll probably do it if he’s at YOUR house! I say it’s time for YOUR daughter to learn some manners and I think I’M the one who can teach her!”
time. time. time. time.
The woman with the crying baby handed me her child. I held her as though she were my very own. She stopped crying.
time. time. time. time.
“Let’s pool our money and buy a plot of land just outside of town. Let’s live in houses separated only by inches and let’s start doing this TOGETHER!”
A voice from the cereal aisle asked if there’d be a Trader Joe’s close by. Someone by the nuts said she wasn’t a “drop by” kind of gal. A grandmother by the peanut butter pretzels said she had a housekeeper and her kids were all grown up.
The crowd began dispersing. I stepped off the orange crate. My friends had already left for their home and the gym.
I eventually found the woman who handed me her baby. She was by the prosecco. I handed the baby back.
Later I got a text from the friend I had planned on catching up with. She said she forgot to get organic baby carrots, and would I pick some up for her.
time. time. time. time. time.