This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme -an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt: “store,” used any way we like.
I went to the store early this afternoon. One week before Christmas, maybe that’s not exactly a news story…
But I wasn’t shopping for holiday gifts, or for the ingredients to make a fancy dinner for extended family or friends. Our bigger kids prefer to order most of their gifts online; they’d rather know what they’re getting and have the autonomy to order it themselves, track the packages, and open their treasures as soon as they arrive. And none of us are fond of those extended family gatherings – they tend to come with a great deal of stress, bringing to light any and all areas of friction, with a focus on things that aren’t important to us.
So, what was I shopping for, early on a Saturday afternoon, at a time when I usually don’t leave the house without children?
Groceries. The average, we-need-to-get-some-food-people-want-to-eat-in-this-house kind.
Somehow, we never quite got around to doing the weeklyish shopping last week. Both my Accomplice and I picked up a few things here and there, and that was enough – but, on Friday, we all found ourselves surveying the available options with a decided lack of enthusiasm.
So, last evening, I announced that I would be shopping today, and invited the children, 14 and 11, to make shopping lists, since, along with rampant physical and cognitive growth, their tastes are changing with almost dizzying speed, and I honestly had little idea of what they would want, beyond staples.
When I woke this morning, my son told me that they’d both sent me their lists on Messenger. Yup, we’re a modern family! It was fun to read their lists (my son even wrote his in priority order!), and to see the way they’re gaining writing skills. If they were in school, or schooled at home, I’d have assignments to record their progress; instead, I have shopping lists and online messages – the utilitarian purposes and their fancies.
I took their lists and copied them to the Colornote app on my Kindle. Then I wandered around the store, fulfilling their wishes and adding a few extras. We came in only $.48 above budget, and, when I got home, my son came out and unloaded most of the groceries from the car. My Accomplice had cleaned the refrigerator after I left and before he left for work (chefs work weekends!); I gave a cursory effort to the freezer, and the boy helped me put things away even though I told him I was just fine doing it on my own.
Once that was done, I spent a couple of hours doing hometending sprints, and the girl came to pitch in. I note this because many parents assign children chores in the hopes of teaching them responsibility, cooperation, and helpfulness. Our children have no chores, and parents who are willing to do things like go to the store at odd times, and buy the items on their lists without passing judgment on them; parents who are OK with them ordering the gifts they want, and opening them when they arrive, because a Christmas morning blowout, regardless of the photo ops it would present, just isn’t their style.
I have to think that those things aren’t unrelated.
We’re willing and ready to help our kids to get the things they want, because we understand that children have less power than adults, and because we consider their wants to be on a par with our own. We’re willing to shift our schedules, and to go out of our way, when we can, to make their lives happy and peaceful.
We help them, and, the older they get, the more they help us, too.
That’s a wonderful bonus, especially since, at their ages, they’re learning skills they can use in a few years, when they become independent, and maybe live on their own.
But it’s not why I do it.
What I was doing, out at the store today, was storing up love. By my actions, I was telling my children that they matter to me. They matter enough that I would go out, buy what they want to eat, and bring it home happily. They matter enough that I can release my ‘ideal Christmas’ – and more. They matter enough that I can be something more than “Mom” to them – more than that name, and the role that goes with it.