Every day, all across America, bajillions of Americans go shopping. They go to the grocery store and buy bread. They go to Walmart and buy toilet paper. They go to the mall and browse through clearance racks. They do it without thinking. Without planning the trip out days in advance. Without giving themselves nervous breakdowns.
These people clearly don't have twins.
When the twins were first born, I had no idea how to go about the logistics of shopping alone. Where do you put two car seats AND groceries in one shopping cart? You just can't. I guess I could have gotten two carts and tried to push them both around the store myself, but that just seemed impractical.
My solution? I never went shopping alone. Seriously. I always went with either my mom or my husband. Two adults. Two babies. No problem.
When the twins were finally old enough to sit in a shopping cart, I got excited. "I can just get a double cart, and everything will be great!" I thought.
Wrong. No one has double carts. Seriously, you can never find one. And when you do, all the straps are broken. My brief hope of finally being independent and able to shop alone were dashed.
Sometimes I would think about going alone anyway. Then I would start to feel all clammy and my mind would start whirling and I would feel like I was going to puke.
My twins were a year old before I was finally brave enough to attempt a shopping trip solo. It's almost embarrassing to admit this fact. I had taken the twins other places alone, but there was always someone to help out on the other end. Not so with shopping.
That first trip alone, I started out nervous but optimistic. "This will be no big deal," I thought. "I can handle it."
I got the twins, myself, and the diaper bag ready to go--a 30 minute process in and of itself. I struggled to open the door while holding two kids and a diaper bag, then I wrangled them into their car seats and we were off.
The whole way to Walmart, I repeated the same prayer over and over in my mind: "Please let there be a double cart, please let there be a double cart." I knew it was unlikely, but a girl can dream.
There was no double cart.
I circled the parking lot for nearly twenty minutes hoping one would magically appear.
I parked in the closest stall I could find, took a deep breath, and told the twins in my most cheerful voice, "We're going to be good boys and sit nicely in the cart, aren't we?" I was already trying to decide who would be better to put in the back of the cart, who would be the most obedient and least squirmy. Probably Thing 1.
Unbuckle two car seats. Heft two little boys. Walk quickly into the store, all the while sternly telling the twins to hold still so I won't drop them. Once inside Walmart, I nudged a cart out of the line with my foot. I buckled one kid in, and sat the other in the basket. "Won't this be fun?" I asked Thing 1. "Sit down and we're going to go for a ride."
He sat for all of five seconds. Thing 2, buckled in front, started crying in protest. Thing 1 was clearly having more fun, and Thing 2 was put out. I rushed to where Thing 1 was standing and sat him down. He promptly stood back up. We repeated this action about ten times between the front door and the toothpaste isle.
I ended up spending the entire shopping trip alternating between carrying Thing 1 and holding onto his hands while he stood in the cart and I dragged it along beside me. By the time I finished shopping, both boys were screaming. I had to stop every few feet to feed them Cheerios and beg Thing 1 to sit.
There were no short shopping lines. The screaming escalated while we waited, and I was fighting back tears by the time I paid and headed to the parking lot.
A whole new dilemma awaited me when I got there. I put my purchases in the car, then pushed the cart all the way up to the car door so I could keep an eye on the baby in the cart while I strapped the other one in his car seat.
I cried the whole way home. So did the twins. I called up husband and angrily told him I would never, ever, ever be independent again. That I would always have to wait for someone else to go out to complete the simplest of tasks. Sometimes I'm irrational like that.
Then I got home and realized I'd forgotten to purchase about half the items we needed because I hadn't written a good shopping list. The day was a complete bust. I raised the white flag of surrender and vowed to never try something so stupid again.
The twins will be 17 months soon, and we still don't go very many places alone. They're just too rambunctious, and too hard to corral. But I know I can do it solo if necessary, and that gives me a lot of peace of mind and comfort. I know to be better organized when going out now, and I don't stress about it nearly as much.
Maybe one day I won't stress about it at all.
When you think about it, giving up shopping alone or shopping stress-free to have two amazing sons isn't really a sacrifice at all. The moral of the story is this: if I see you with a double shopping cart and only one child, I will take you down.
TWIN MOM TIP: Make your shopping list before you go, then put all the items in order of where they'll be in the store so you don't have to backtrack. That way, when your twins have a meltdown (which they eventually will), you can quickly get in and out without fear of forgetting something. It's one less thing to stress about.