My health insurance company requires that I fill my prescriptions at Wal-Mart. I have several problems with this, which I don't have the rant-energy to get into now. The long and short of it is that I have to make a bi-monthly trip to the Super Center down the perpetually-worked-upon main drag of Lafayette where the traffic lights may stop you at every intersection, but at least they keep you waiting for the green forever and a day. The first half dozen or so times I went to Wal-Mart to fill a prescription, I was hugely pregnant, hormonal, and absolutely nothing went well. To the credit of the pharmacy workers, I've never caught them spitting in my amber bottles, despite the pregzilla fury I unleashed every time I was told that no, my insurance wouldn't pay for it and no, Wal-Mart would not call my doctor and no, the pharmacists were not interested in helping me find out what my insurance covered. They also always coo over LO now that he's my traveling companion, which mollifies me somewhat.
Yesterday, I had a prescription that I had to fill and groceries to buy. Knowing that LO would not stand for two separate trips, I decided to get my groceries at America's Retailer. (This touches on my second problem with Wal-Mart. I don't trust any store that is everything to everyone. And being able to sell me stuff for super cheap means someone somewhere is getting screwed. But damn do they sell Smucker's All Fruit Jelly and Pepperidge Farm Bread for cheap!) On my way in, I called J and asked if he needed anything. We agreed that having some cold beers waiting for him when he got home would make for a fabulous welcome.
LO was an angel for the first 75% of the shopping trip. He slept the hell out of his car seat, despite the bumpiness of his ride in the shopping cart. Little children saw him and cried "Baby!" with excitement. Women fainted at the sight of his handsomeness. Men wanted to shake his hand, but knew it would wake him and restrained themselves. It was, in other words, an ordinary day for my little man.
Sometime around frozen foods, LO began stirring. I may have mentioned once or 17 times in this blog that my son has a remarkably expressive face. I, as his face-reading mother, can tell before he even wakes up what kind of mood he will greet consciousness with. (I don't know if the child will ever have a future in poker-playing). I could see from the set of his still-sleeping face that I would need to brace myself for incoming infant fury. I started shopping faster. (I believe this is the point in the proceedings when a gallon of milk ended up on top of a loaf of broad. I'm going to be making turkey and swiss on whole wheat balls for lunch for a few weeks.)
LO woke up, took a quick survey of his immediate surroundings, determined that there was no breast bearing (baring?) his lunch within a few inches of his face, drew in a huge lungful of air, and let out a wail loud enough to wake the greeter at the front door who had lost his hearing aid.
It was at this point that my brain told my body to begin the frazzling process. Because nothing helps a hungry and screaming child like a mother who is jumpy and irritable and therefore completely incapable of competently hurrying.
(Now, side note--in Indiana I have the right to breast feed in public. I own a breast-feeding cover that is always in my diaper bag. [It also happens to be black and look like a half-cape, so that I feel like the Phantom of the Opera. If I had more time, I'd embroider bare breasts on the front]. However, I still can't quite get over my feelings of complete and utter embarrassment at the idea of feeding LO in public. And the Wal-Mart in Lafayette is not the place where I'm going to get over this phobia. So I knew I had at least another 15 minutes of public screaming between LO and any hope of him getting lunch).
I only had two or three things left on my list at this point, so I ran through the store grabbing as quickly as I could. I should have recognized that everyone I was shopping with didn't seem to care that my son was having a melt down, but no one ever accused me of being a rational individual when frazzled. (Or ever, to be honest). For the last item, J's beer, I rushed down the liquor aisle and reached for the Guinness on the top shelf. I bobbled the case, dropped it, and managed to splatter myself, LO, and our cart with beer.
I stood in the liquor aisle in Wal-Mart, reeking of beer, with a baby who was screaming bloody murder. I felt I just needed a cigarette dangling from my lips to complete the picture of Mother of the Year. I briefly considered leaving the mess on the floor and making a run for it. No one needed to see this. (It was bad enough that they'd be able to smell it!) But then my latent retail experience kicked in, and I forced myself to find an employee and confess. He was really kind. I babbled about how the beer wasn't even for me because my husband had asked for it. He didn't give a hoot.
On my way to the register, I continually looked over my shoulder to see if Child Services was already following me. I rushed out of the store like I'd stolen something (even though my cashier volunteered to be a foster grandmother and the woman behind me was remarking how cute LO's cries were) and ran to the car. I got LO strapped in, threw the groceries in the trunk (and I mean that literally), and was pulling out of the parking space less than 15 minutes after the crying began.
LO took that opportunity to fall asleep.
I think there is a lesson here for me. Perhaps I'll remember that most people are sympathetic toward a young mother with a crying baby. Perhaps I'll get over myself in needing to project a perfect image in public. Perhaps I'll learn to relax about LO's crying, knowing that just because he's mad, that doesn't mean it's an emergency. But mostly, I think I'll know from now on to ALWAYS buy the beer from the bottom shelf.