One day, I will learn not to take all three of my kids to Target alone. Maybe.
It was a Friday morning, that fateful day. I needed a few things, and I had a hankering to peruse the home aisles of my local Target. You know, to relax and imagine a world where children don’t actually destroy everything nice I own. It started off fine. Knox and Brody were in the front of the monstrous family buggy, and Ford was in the Ergo carrier. We made it all the way to the back corner of the store, as you do, before the crying began. Ford was done shopping at Target. Like, furiously done. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but wearing an angry baby is UNACCEPTABLE and is in no way, shape or form an allowable alternative to holding said baby. So, I took him out of the carrier, which now dangled around my waist and held him. Still, no dice. His angry “I hate Target” cry quickly turned into a “feed me, woman” cry. So, we pushed our cart as quickly as possible to the front of the store, where I pushed everything and everyone into the family restroom, ignoring the “no merchandise in the restroom” sign. Sorry, Target.
I quickly nursed Ford while Knox and Brody tried to free themselves from the buggy and destroy the bathroom. I mangled to wrangle them one-handed back into their seats with only minor threatening, which I considered a success. Once Ford was finished, I foolishly thought “that was easy enough, now let’s shop some more.” FATAL ERROR, JESSICA. FATAL ERROR.
Once again, we managed to get back to the same corner of the store (school supplies, no less), when Ford promptly lost his cool. All the way lost. Of course, by this point, the section is crawling with quiet families, happily shopping for pencils and dry erase markers. All of which, by the way, are pointedly glaring at me. So, I took Ford out of the carrier again, and tried to jiggle him around. Jiggling really pisses off babies that are tired, FYI. We are nearing nap time, but I just needed to get a new notebook for Bible study. Just one, tiny notebook. “Jesus wants me to have this notebook,” I think. I need it. It’s for holy purposes. Certainly I can just grab one really quickly. Nope. The sight of notebooks is enraging to Ford. I reach out to grab one. I am throwing it in my cart when I see “wide ruled” emblazoned on the cover. WHY DO THEY EVEN MAKE WIDE-RULED NOTEBOOKS???? College-ruled or bust. I frantically start scanning the mountains of notebooks for something with thin-lines. Ford’s screaming is reaching a fever pitch. The eyes of Target people are boring into the back of my head, and I start sweating. Notebook Gate 2016 is becoming a real thing. For the love of all of the things, WHERE IS THE COLLEGE-RULED SECTION?!!! Frantic, I just pushed the cart out of the section, my wailing baby serenading us all the way. As we move to the front of the store, Ford gets quiet. I look down and see the totally red face of a baby that has let loose into silent cry. You know the one. They are so pissed that their cry has lost it’s sound, which only means that in approximately .467 seconds, the loudest cry possible will emerge out of their mouth.
I knew what needed to happen. This baby needed to nurse IMMEDIATELY. I was still halfway to the checkout section. There was no way I could make it back to the family bathroom in time. I looked around and saw it: the empty furniture aisle. I shoved the cart down the aisle just as Ford started to hysterically scream. All I could think about at that moment was that crazy video where the man at Target starts berating the women for breastfeeding her baby without a cover, and I could not be the newest viral breastfeeding story: “Mom beats man senseless when he tells her to cover up, story at 11.” Because of course, I had left my cover somewhere, so I did what I had to do:
I went into the shelf.
There, between a barstool and a side table, I scootched all the way back, shielding myself with a cart of children (who at this point were beating each other, gladiator-style, with boxes of Legos) and nursed the baby. Peace (except for the gladiator children). I was hot and sweating and praying no crazy breastfeeding-haters would stumble upon our shelf spot. Once it looked like Ford was asleep, I got up and practically ran to the checkout. Well. All the running woke the baby, who once again realized that he was in Target.
You can guess what happened next.
Every checkout lane had a line. BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY DID. So I had no choice but to wait. Sandwiched between a blonde lady, about my age (with no children because she was probably smart and got a babysitter), and a lady around the age of my mom, I stood holding a baby that was irate and screaming at the top of his voice. By the way, that’s really loud. My two biggest are asking for Kit Kats and Push Pops and all of the processed foods, and at this point I am like “GET WHATEVER YOU WANT, HEALTH IS STUPID” and pathetically trying to load the conveyor belt with one hand. The blonde woman keeps looking at me, and finally, she can’t help herself…
“Would you like some help?”
I opened my mouth immediately to offer a sweet “no thanks, I am fine,” but instead what came tumbling out was “yes. Yes I would.” So she and the woman behind me jumped into action, unloading my cart and then, taking it a step further, talking sweetly to my angry baby, who promptly stopped crying and smiled at all of the grandma-like attention he was getting from the woman behind us.
It hit me then as I stood there with happy kids piling candy onto the belt- why don’t we say “yes” to help when we need it? I always feel like I have to fake control and make people believe that I have it all together. Let me tell you something right now: I DO NOT HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. And sometimes, I need some help. I need a nice blonde lady to unload my cart and someone else’s grandma to sweet-talk my baby because I can’t do everything perfectly, all the time. I don’t know about you, but faking it for someone else’s sake doesn’t actually make anything happen for me aside from filling me with anxiety and making me a little sweaty. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with other people: motherhood (and being a woman, in general) is messy, and it’s hard. God designed us to live in community- to build each other up and pour into one another. Sometimes we are the ones pouring out, and sometimes we’re the ones getting filled up. It’s an ebb and flow, and it is okay to accept the filling. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human. I am thankful today for two women in Target that showed me kindness and taught me that it’s okay to say “yes.”
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” -1 Peter 3:8
P.S. I got home and realized: I forgot the notebook.