You know that book — The Five People You Meet in Heaven?
I haven’t read it. But I do know that it involved meeting five people in the afterlife who teach you profound stuff. And today, after a fairly typical trip to Target with two little ones, I met my own cast of heavenly characters — there to lend a hand, or simply, a smile.
1. The fellow mom in the parking lot.
“You’ve got your hands full,” she playfully commented while I, 7 months pregnant, hoisted a 22 lb baby in a baby carrier and a wiggly, 35 lb toddler into the cherry-red cart. I chuckled and we chatted for a moment while she loaded groceries with a newborn tucked in her Moby Wrap.
She cautiously asked, “And when are you due with the next one?”
“August,” I answered.
“Oh my,” she responded with a kind smile.
And off I went, pushing my babies in that shiny red chariot, waddling across the pedestrian crosswalk, ready to take on the world (and the produce section).
2. The Starbucks barista.
Our first stop was the Target Starbucks.
As the mama-with-the-mostest, I bribed my toddler with a fun drink (organic Apple juice) to sip in his special seat while mama enjoyed her decaff iced latte.
“Do you want more kids?” the barista asked.
“Oh, yes, we’d love a big family,” I said, mopping up the already-spilled juice from the plastic seat.
“That’s cool,” the 16-year-old barista responded.
“When are you due?” she asked.
“August,” I answered.
“Wow…” she said.
And with that, I hit a hard u-turn and let the toddler pick out some bananas.
3. The pretend kid-napper.
It was all going well.
Until the toddler decided that trying to lay in the front seat like it’s a beach-front lounge chair, using my purse as a pillow wasn’t comfortable. So when he started yelling “Not comfortable! NOT comfortable!” we decided he should walk on his own. Which is never a good idea, because it turns into a game of “run and hide from Mommy in the women’s clothes section.”
Which turns into a game of “Mommy abandoning the baby and purse in the cart to try to find the toddler.”
Which turns into the game of “random stranger helping Mommy by pretending to chase toddler like a wild chicken until Mommy can pen and grab him.”
Which turns into a game of “Mommy forcing toddler to sit in cart against his will.”
Which turns into a meltdown, of course.
4. The empathetic, smiling customer in line.
Who just smiles. While the toddler screams that he has to be in the cart. And while the baby screams that the toddler is screaming.
5. The gentleman.
I’ve now collected two carts — one to carry the bags, the other to carry two screaming toddlers.
But I do not despair. I waddle my cherry-red chariots back across the crosswalk, patiently place the expressive children back in the car (while not letting my grocery cart roll away). And alas — a silver-haired angel comes to my rescue, offering to take my carts back to the little cart-holder for me.
“You are such a gentleman!” I gush with more relief and enthusiasm than he probably expected.
And so you have it. The Five People You Meet at Target. When you have young children. And a protruding belly. And a (very) grateful spirit.