A hallmark of the postpartum period for me is anxiety. In non-hormonal periods of life, I buy it in Costco sized quantities. So life’s a barrel of monkeys after childbirth.
I haven’t really adjusted to life with five children, but that hasn’t stopped me from charging ahead and continuing with my never ending list of things that must be done yesterday. We have been ill since Gestated Cinco arrived, and has resulted in me referring to our little princess as Typhoid Cinco. It’s been ugly. I’m on a first name basis with every urgent care doctor in the system and am customer of the decade at the local Target pharmacy. Apparently being customer of the decade does not actually expedite the whole filling the prescription process.
So there I was, wandering the aisles of Target, listening to Mac ask me to buy him a toy, or a toothbrush, interesting choices for sure. The girls were arguing because they exist and X-Man was drinking my Starbucks. Gestated, fully aware of her typhoidesque behavior, was sleeping in her car seat.
I was grabbing random items, things that we needed. The girls would pause their arguing over whose hair style was more soccer-like, yes for reals, to remind me of something else they couldn’t live without. That toothpaste tasted nasty, they wanted that one, and they were out of hair ties….etc. Mac kept mentioning that he really, really wanted a toy.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed an onsite security officer was following me. And it seemed to not be a coincidence. If I stopped, he stopped. When I moved, he moved. Subtly was not his strong suit. Neither was facial hair growing, but that’s a different story. I immediately envisioned a large poster of my face hanging in the front of the store announcing “Shoplifter!” Never mind that I hadn’t actually shoplifted anything. Nor was I planning on starting. But obviously something had brought me to the attention of security. I tried to reassure myself that he just figured that I would try to smuggle something out in Cinco’s car seat, so when he saw me check out, it would all be fine. So I played it cool, kept my nice mom voice on, continued shopping. I made sure to carefully observe all that the girls showed me, especially the “cute” outfits. Because that’s what good moms do. They don’t snap “I said hands on the cart” they smile and enjoy random detours down aisles of stickers.
However, Dudley Do right continued to practice his French espionage skills. And I was getting frazzled. So I turned, real casual like, and made eye contact. I actually took it a step further and flashed him a smile and batted my eyes. Well, I’m sure that’s what he thought. I was actually begging for mercy Morse code style, but this guy was clearly more fluent in text speak than any code. I moved on, convinced that as his cover had now been blown, he would now move on to more productive endeavors, such as shopping cart retrieval.
However, he didn’t leave. I failed to fall for his arranging things on the shelf routine and found myself with a headache and a bad temper. At this point, both girls were pirouetting in front of a mirror and Mac was announcing excitedly that he wanted me to buy him the Angry Birds Star Wars pillow he saw. I asked outright “Slow day?”
Ok, so that wasn’t really outright, but I didn’t think I would get far with “Hey jerk, what’s with the passive aggressive accusations of stealing?” He, in turn, looked sheepish and replied “Yeah, just killing time.” I would have had a sarcastic comeback but I was thrown by his sudden offering of items. Was he trying to frame me? And he was really bad at it because I already had that toothpaste, that box of q-tips and diaper cream in my cart. Didn’t I?
He continued “I was wondering how long it would take you to notice?” At that point, he noticed my blank stare. “Uh, your little guy’s been tossing things out of your cart.” At this point X-Man put down my Starbucks cup and said “Uh huh” with his fat little hands reaching for his lost treasures.
See, Gestated’s ride took up most of the cart, so I had been placing items in the front seat with X-Man. Which apparently became a game for him. In my defense, I entered the store with five children, and I knew where those children were in entire time. I also knew what almost all of them were doing that whole time.
It was my turn to feel sheepish, and fairly annoyed that the same children who were constantly practicing to be paid informants for the FBI failed to notice X-Man chucking the very non-gross toothpaste that they absolutely could not live without. So I gave up the whole nice mom charade announced “Hands on the cart and if you want your toothpaste, watch X-Man.” And attempted to retreat with my dignity. I’m not so sure that worked.