Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Grocery blues

I thought a lot about my mom this morning.

I’d put off going to the grocery store as long as I could. We were out of everything. Cereal, bananas, Kleenex (DARN I forgot that this trip!!) meat, lettuce, tomatoes, lemon juice, frozen peas, everything! I stalled earlier in the morning, doing other little tasks, waiting for it to be late enough that the store might have a cashier working. I hate scanning my groceries when I have a full cart.

Anyway, I was thinking about my mom and how she shopped for a family of 6 on a much smaller budget than mine. I don’t remember her complaining about it, though I don’t remember her complaining about much of anything. I do remember her hollering when she pulled into the garage for those of us home to come help her put the groceries away. And her lament about how much it was, on average, per paper paper bag filled with groceries. Seemed like it was always more than the week before.

I hate going grocery shopping. First there’s the list making, which involves pulling out cookbooks and determining a menu for the week. That alone makes me want to wait at least another day.

Then there’s the traipsing around the store, dodging those big carts pushed by the professional shoppers, mostly teenagers, who are picking groceries for those smart enough to order online, and the pallets of food sitting in the aisles waiting to be put on shelves, and the little old folk comparing prices while their cart sits in the middle of traffic, (I’m not one of those!) and the preschool kids hanging onto an adults hand while whining. No, the grocery store is not somewhere I want to be.

I try to organize my shopping list in the order of the store so I don’t miss something (like Kleenex) or have to backtrack too often. That kind of works to get me in and out fast, even with a longer list like today. But by the time I get to the frozen vegetables I’m usually in a decision overload mental crisis, and just grab a couple bags of something and hurry over to checkout.

Where I wait.

If I’m lucky there is one lane open, usually a new person is running the register. I feel bad for them. Today there was a customer finishing up an order, a total of $300+ who was paying for it with assorted gift cards some of which didn’t work. It took awhile. Then she was getting $20 back. The clerk handed over the receipt and the $20 and the customer decided she didn’t want a $20 bill. She wanted 3 fives and 5 ones. The new clerk didn’t know how to open her cashdrawer once the transaction was over. It took awhile longer.

The woman ahead of me, with her full cart on the conveyer just smiled at me and rolled her eyes. It’s good to be retired.

By the time I got out of there with my order and loaded it into the back of the car, then unloaded it onto my kitchen counter I was feeling really sorry for my mom. In fact, on one of my many trips from the garage to the kitchen, while passing the back bathroom I noticed my reflection in the mirror. Mom looked back at me. Neither of us seemed happy.

I don’t know how my mother did it, shopping and cooking for a big family night after night. After night. I have it easy in comparison. I know I could order online, and I have, though what I get isn’t always related to what I thought I ordered. And I could even have the groceries delivered. But I’d miss the inspiration of seeing something on sale and figuring out another meal on the fly, or that impulsive quart of Ben and Jerry’s. (No, I didn’t even go down the ice cream aisle today, I faded out at frozen tortellini.)

So I guess I’m writing this as a sort of rant, and now that I’m done I should feel better. But you’d think after spending $150+ my fridge would be more full. I don’t know how big families survive these days.

I’m sorry, mom, for not appreciating you more back in those days. Grocery shopping is exhausting, I think I’ll go take a nap.

Something you never got to do.