“My turning point occurred the day a man yelled at me from his car. They are words I will never forget.
He must have seen us inside the grocery store. It was the first time we were going in without a stroller. Everybody do good listening for Momma, okay? Six innocent eyes peered back at me.
We created the cutest chain of handholding I have ever been associated with. I was holding the hand of my oldest. She was now almost six, sporting a pink ball gown that she thinks Pnina Tornai designed, as a result of too many viewings of Say Yes to the Dress, but was really on sale at Costco. Her red cowboy boots complemented her rainbow wig. She was holding hands with our newest additions: the twin tornados. Her baby brothers, Twin B, who refused to leave the house without a bright green arm warmer and his sister’s hat and Twin A, covered in a mixture of guacamole and applesauce. It took us about ten minutes to get through the revolving door, but we had this.
We were here for a mission. We had not only graduated from the possibility of Jordan never speaking, we were moving towards functional life skills. My daughter had proudly remembered the four things we need to buy. She had spent all week working on identifying them and is here to generalize the skill in the grocery store. With the support of her therapists, we had a modified Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) where she could look at a picture of the item and put it in her grocery cart. Today’s haul included: Strawberries, Milk, Popsicles, Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Aisle #1: ‘Looks like you have your hands full’ greeted us in the produce aisle.
‘Yes, it’s our first time without the stroller,’ I heard my chipper voice respond.
‘Strawberries!’ My daughter spotted item number one. Off they went.
Despite the fact that two of my three children wear orthotics, and one wasn’t supposed to even walk, they are suddenly faster than I can ever imagine. Their physical therapists would be so proud. Someone needs to tell the produce people the height of the fruit is exactly wrong for almost two-year-old twins. They have each put five cartons of blueberries into the shopping cart, but they are not tall enough to drop them gently, so there was now an avalanche of tiny spherical berries surrounding the cart. Twin B sits on the floor to start eating them. ‘Yum berries.’ Twin A can’t stop giggling and our fearless leader was shouting, ‘Not on the list. Only Strawberries.’
Aisle #2: I bribed Twin A to sit in the front of the shopping cart with the stolen remnants of the berries I couldn’t return into the package. This is a gentle reminder for consumers to wash your fruit before you eat it. Twin B was holding my hand singing and we are stopped by a fellow shopper at the deli counter. ‘Looks like you have your hands full. I have two children. One is a newborn. I don’t think I will ever take them to the grocery store.’
‘Would you excuse me; I’m supposed to have three children.’
Don’t worry about helping me sir, just watch me frantically throw a child into the back of a grocery cart while his twin grabbed my glasses. ‘Nose.’
‘Yes, honey, that is Mommy’s nose. Jordan! Can you hear me? Has anyone seen a little girl in a pink dress and wig? There can’t be many in the store. Jordan, Mommy can’t see you!’
I finally made it to the snack aisle, with every cliché of panic on my face.
‘Hi, Mommy,’ she stated, calmly holding a bag of pretzels. ‘Not on the list. Keep going.’
Aisle #3: I have now bribed Twin B with a lollipop to sit in the grocery cart while Twin A insisted on pushing the cart while I carried him. My daughter was leading us towards the milk aisle. We walk past a maintenance worker and his full ass crack as he bent over the lobster tank.
‘Look, Mommy, tushy.’
Yes, honey, I see it — let’s move ahead. I grabbed the milk with my other arm, throw it in the cart, and head towards item number three.
Aisle #4: Everyone was now sitting inside the cart, with squished blueberries on their pants, devouring the box of popsicles we just located. I return to get a second box. Of course, I left the wipes in the car.
An elderly woman with a cart full of avocados and cantaloupe made sure I catch her eye. ¨Well, you sure have…¨
‘…my hands full, yes. ¨
As we approached the final aisle, I complimented my daughter on her strong shopping skills. This was a big deal for her, and we had to finish the entire task to make the lesson stick. She was the most excited for item number four. The chocolate chip muffins. I, too, have never been more excited to purchase an item, because it meant we could go home.
We turned the corner and I can see, like a glaring spotlight, they are sold out.
‘What about blueberry muffins? They are delicious.’
‘No! The list says chocolate chip!’
If you have ever been around a child, let alone one with special needs, the space between the expectation and the reality is frankly — painful. I was ready to handle the breakdown. I had my contingency plan in place. I wasn’t too far from the beer aisle.
‘Mommy.’ She took a deep inhale. ‘No muffins. Let’s go home. My list done.’
This momentous occasion practically made me float out of the grocery store. And for the record, not only did we not float, we disrupted an entire display of candy bars, Twin B signed the credit card receipt, and my daughter did her best rendition of Ariana Grande’s song, ‘Side to Side.’ (Less than appropriate, but that’s for another day.)
We piled into the car. A full 50 minutes after we had arrived. Four items in our bag. As I buckled the last car seat, I hear a man’s voice shout from behind his steering wheel.
‘Hey Lady —’
‘Hey. I saw you in there.’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry. It was our first time —’
‘You are a terrific mother. Have a great day.’
Thank you, kind stranger. I will have a great day. A great day that will end with me trying to figure out how to turn strawberries, milk, and popsicles into a meal — because while we were at the grocery store, I didn’t have any time to get dinner.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Leah Moore an English Teacher from Westchester, New York. Follow her on Instagram hernone and visit her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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