I drag my kids to the grocery store all of the time, especially Vivian who is not in school. Buying food each week goes with the territory of being at home with the kids. Lately I have been sick of the grocery store. Shopping and decision-making has felt like a chore because I have been in a food rut. Going up and down the same aisles, buying and cooking the same meals. Blah. Blah.
Over the weekend I decided to make a change, and I pulled a recipe from my recipe box. I felt a little better while I shopped on Sunday afternoon. I pushed the overloaded, heavy cart to the check-out without as much loathing because of the new ingredients I placed on the conveyor belt. The chicken and basil and penne pasta and sun-dried tomato dressing lifted my spirits. The promise of a new meal in the lineup.
This afternoon after picking up Vivian from a friend’s house, I asked her what she’d like to do before it was time to pick up Lance from school. She said, “I’d like to stop at Wegman’s and buy Oreos.” I hesitated because this request was out of the blue and something I have never done. And then I thought, Why yes let’s stop at Wegman’s and buy Oreos. “And milk,” she added and started singing, Milk and cookies, milk and cookies yummy in my tummy, an old Kindermusik ballad.
We walked into the store hand-in-hand, her warm little hand, that I just love holding, tucked in mine. She skipped along and I even skipped with her for a beat. Why not right? When we got in the store I felt completely liberated. I was there to buy two things — milk and cookies. We were on a Oreo mission and nothing was more important than that. I did not allow myself to get distracted in the produce section or wonder what else we are out of at home or try to think up a new meal on the spot or worry that I should buy this or that. Or that I should not buy this or that. Or who needed a snack for school. I did not give in to impulse buying or throw unneeded items into the cart. Hell I did not even get a cart.
To the cookie aisle we went. My life felt simple.
After Vivian made her selection, she led me to the milk section. She led ME. She probably knows her way around the store better than I could ever imagine. Hmm, this whole grocery store thing was taking on a whole new level of interest for both of us. I carried a gallon of 1%, she the Oreos. My mind was clear and focused with only milk and cookies on the mind. I bopped down the aisle lip-syncing to Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape that was playing on the sound system. My behavior was a far cry from the long-faced norm.
When Vivian and I got to the check-out, we went the self-check-out route. On the rare occasion that I am buying a manageable amount of groceries the kids like to help me scan items and be the first to pull out the receipt at the end of the transaction. I do not know if in the history of my grocery shopping tenure as a mother that I have ever been in a grocery store and purchased only two items. I felt the excitement and lightness of my younger self buying only a case of beer and red Solo Cups. Except at this stage in my life it was all about these Oreos, this milk. They screamed, Afternoon par-tay!!!!
Back through the parking lot, Vivian carried the Oreos with importance because she had scanned and bagged them herself. She slung the bag on her should like a purse and walked out like she was boss, receiving many smiles along the way. Truth be told, I was carrying a gallon of milk that we did not even need, but telling Vivian we already had milk at home would have taken away from the full effect of the Oreo Mission.
The mission made for the best trip I have had to the grocery store in a long time. At home, Vivian and I ate two Oreos together, and let me tell you I do my fair share of junk-food-stress-eating and this was nothing like it. Having cookies and milk with Vivian was an intentional indulgence and I enjoyed every last bite of Milk’s Favorite Cookie. And as I turns out, I learned that Vivian likes to take her Oreos apart and dunk the half with the cream on it in the milk. I am more of a traditional dunker. We had fun talking about all the different approaches you can take to eating a Oreo.
I have a feeling the cookies and milk are a turning point in my food rut. Maybe the grocery store does not have to be so bad. Leave it to a Oreo Mission to boost my mood and remind me that there is beauty in narrowing your focus and holding hands with someone you love.