I went grocery shopping with both of the girls on Saturday.
Before you think too hard about what we've been eating for the past 6 weeks, you should know that I have been to the grocery store since Charlotte was born, but it's either been with only one of the girls or with another adult along for the ride. This trip was the first time I took both of them, by myself.
This is a big deal.
Right after Maddy was born, I was terrified of leaving the house. Seriously, I felt incapable of leaving. I didn't know how to handle her car seat with the shopping cart. I was terrified of her crying in public. What if she had a major blowout, or decided she wanted to eat 2 hours ahead of schedule? I honestly felt like I had forgotten how to go grocery shopping. It was awful.
I don't really remember getting a specific kick in the pants (other than the realization that I would have to leave the house sometime), but I do remember that it was very much a just-grit-your-teeth-and-do-it kind of thing. It had to happen. I had to do it. So I did it. Maddy and I became quick shopping buddies, and I was proud of myself for doing something I had been totally afraid of. Go, me!
And then Charly came.
I can't tell you guys how good I felt during our first few days home. Seriously. I felt much more in control than I did right after bringing Maddy home. She was a good baby. I'd done this before, and I felt like I could handle it (especially since I was done with school). I was in good spirits, even while running on little sleep and constantly sore from nursing issues. In general, I was recovering beautifully. Life was good.
And so it was, that when my mom mentioned that she was taking my little sister out shopping for school clothes, I asked if I could tag along. After all, I needed to get out of the house, and even though I was a bit nervous about doing so (DOUBLE STROLLER?!), I had learned from last time that I just needed to grit my teeth and do it. Right?
Well, my friends, I can tell you that from the second I walked through the doors at the mall, I knew I'd made a mistake. There were so many people. So much noise. And I swear, Charly shrunk to about half of her (already very small) size. She was so new! What the heck was I thinking, taking this brand new baby out shopping?!
I forced myself to stay for maybe an hour. I weaved the stroller through the crowds and half-heartedly browsed through the racks, feeling absolutely suffocated by even the music in the stores. Something was going to happen. Someone was going to steal my baby. Or touch my baby. Or steal my toddler. The pumped milk I had brought for Charly was going to spill and soak everything in the diaper bag. And then Charly would get hungry. And she would start screaming. And Maddy would get lost. And did I still have my wallet? And the MUSIC WOULD JUST KEEP POUNDING IN MY EARS - FOR GOODNESS' SAKE TURN OFF THE DANG MUSIC!
Yeah, pretty sure that was an anxiety attack right there.
I burst into tears the moment the car door shut. I spent the drive home feeling sorry for myself, convinced that I would never be able to leave the house again because I just couldn't handle it. Apparently I wasn't good/strong/smart/capable enough to go anywhere with two children. I felt totally defeated.
Sure, I bounced back - told myself that I just needed a little more time. So, I gave myself a little more time, and I tried again. And I ended up feeling defeated again. I tried again. Defeat. I kept trying, and I kept getting shot down. It wasn't good for my mood, I can tell you that. Especially when mixed with all those postpartum hormones that are so amazing.
You're probably expecting me to now share with you the "breakthrough" moment - that one day when I took the girls with me to run errands and realized that I could do this, that I am a perfectly capable mother of two. Sorry to disappoint you, but I don't have that story yet. Believe me, I wish I did.
What I do have is the story of my first trip to the grocery store with my two girls, a full 6 weeks into being a mother of two. It's the story of an essential trip to Walmart with no way around going by myself and taking both of them. Our list was all of 10 items long, which was good because with the baby in her carrier in the basket, there wasn't room for much else. I brought along a sandwich baggie full of marshmallows to bribe Maddy to sit in the shopping cart seat. We visited the fish tanks and Maddy counted them while I tried to not look at the nasty things. I didn't think about what else I might need; I just stuck to my list (I'm usually pretty bad at doing that). When the line at the deli counter was long, I just bought the packaged sliced cheese they had in the cooler, even though it was a little more expensive. I let Maddy help me swipe my debit card and let her push the green button after I entered my PIN. I forgot to price match my milk.
And I sang along to the radio on the way home. I see that as progress.