I am a jealous person.
I can probably help it.
I blame not going to church and a superstitious nature.
Jealously rears its green ugly head most often these days when I get rejection emails (they don’t even cost money to churn out nowadays) and when I encounter the cult of Dad.
Case in point, our last trip to the grocery store.
The kids and I usually go alone. I pack snacks and fill the sippies and if I am lucky the “right” cart is available at the store, either the car or the multikid family one. These are the carts my daughter will get in without protest. When she was one she would escape and run willy-nilly down aisles, my preggo self lumbering after her holding my belly with one hand and my list and the creepy varicose vein that kept me from prenatal business travel in the other. Now she enjoys those carts, and the “situation” is usually my son, whom I pacify with a raw whole cucumber from Produce when we first hit the store. This usually calms him and keeps him occupied until the paper towel aisle. From then on if I turn on my mommy chatter (“oh, look, maybe we will have beans tonight, do you guys like beans? You know who loves beans, your Auntie Kerri loves beans, let’s have beans!) we can make it to check out and high tail it out of there before all hell breaks loose. Because my husband and I work odd hours, I am very fortunate that usually when we pull onto our street and park, all I have to do is text and down he swoops to help us bring all the bags up the flight of stairs to our apartment and I don’t have to lug two very little children plus food alone.
But yesterday we were preparing for Earl. Just in case. We are from New England. While there are many false “BIG ONES”, we know all it takes is one kinda right one to make a difference.
First we hit the hardware store. The kids were restless, but okay. Kinda like a tropical depression.
Then we headed to the grocery store. With dad. And this gave both kids all the extra energy they needed to go Category Five on our asses, and right quick.
Obviously, both kids love Dad. I love this because my own dad was, well, difficult. So I really take great joy in the fact that my kids love their dad and their dad loves them and is able to demonstrate that love and care by being actively involved in every aspect of their lives.
And I can openly admit sometimes I get jealous of the cult of personality that surrounds Dad. Everything is a holiday when dad is around. Whereas, quite often, when it is just me, the mood can turn, um, a little sour. I try to make it fun. I sing. I make up rhymes, I can pass pack very tasty snacks at stop lights like you wouldn’t believe. But nothing is quite like the air around an outing that includes Dad.
As a feminist these are moments to be studied. The private sphere/public sphere, traditional domestic roles we play kinda thing. But as a person who watches kids squeal with delight at Da-Da-Da-Da-Da, I am left a little bit heartbroken.
The grocery store.
My daughter bee lines it to the car cart, which my husband pushes, and I wrangle the boy one into a regular cart. Not even half way through Produce, cucumber in hand, my daughter escapes her confines, charged by the idea we are all in the store TOGETHER! She claims she wants to be with me, but it is a sorry excuse to run around the meat section.
The juice aisle, where we ventured alone while DAD! filled the car cart with groceries for his mom, witnessed many questions about DAD! Where is Dad? Does Dad have that car cart? What is Dad getting? Da Da Da Da DA!
Once Dad was sighted, more energy got released. My daughter who is usually pretty good at Johnny’s Foodmaster went completely haywire in Johnny’s Foodmaster half way through the baby aisle. My son, who had left a woeful trail of chewed cucumber and carrot (the carrot was my usually trustworthy snack, presented in the pasta aisle to a deceptively smiley set of children), was now is whimpering mess. Perhaps it is the new bra I got that lifted these ladies so I can maybe look like I have not been nursing for almost three years straight (think South Pole, Antartica) but which have the added effect of just taunting him. Perhaps it was the skittish feeling my daughter was giving off as she buzzed around him. Whatever it was, I resorted to nursing him in front of the baby food, thinking it was the safest place to do so in this somewhat conservative area of a more conservative than Cambridge town.
That did not help.
By the time we hit the bread section (last stop before check out thank Goodness) both kids were beside themselves and I can’t help but think it was due in part to how charged they were by their Dad. Who was able to remain calm throughout as I pulled soggy with saliva and tears cucumber and carrot off the dirty linoleum floor.
“They aren’t usually like this,” I said to him as we got ready to pay. I don’t want him thinking his kids and wife are blazing through supermarkets other business establishments as if we reside in a barn.
“People are staring.” Said with amazement at realizing we are THAT family.
“I know. They’re usually okay.”
And they are.
But there is something about Dad, who despite my singing and rhyming, is just much more fun.
I don’t think I’ll get over it.