After Penelope was born, I became a hermit, staying inside with the new baby, keeping her away from germs in dirty places like grocery stores and restaurants, traveling only to Grandma’s or my sister-in-laws house. Sean generally ran the errands, making quick trips to the grocery store or convenience store for whatever we needed, while I stayed at home with at least the baby, and usually one or two other children.
Cabin fever set in after three weeks. Recovered from my whole body aches after birth, I started venturing out on walks with the baby, for my own sanity, still staying clear of all public places except preschool on Thursdays, when I both drop-off and pick-up Samantha, Ella and Penny in tow, by myself.
Yesterday, the day I had been both dreading and looking forward to, came. We needed groceries. Sean had appointments both yesterday and today, so I would have to take all three girls to the store by myself if we wanted to eat this week. This was going to be the test, success on this mission determined my future. Would I ever be able to take all three girls anywhere by myself, or was I to be homebound whenever I had all three by myself?
Excitement mounted as I mentally prepared for the venture. Baby in Bjorn, Ella strapped into grocery cart, Samantha walking next to me, it was doable. I made my grocery list, keeping it to only necessities, fruit, meat, milk, juice, cheese, to limit my time in the store and keep us on the periphery, not venturing into the maze of aisles where Samantha could run out of sight too easily. I was pretty sure Samantha would stay close enough for me to see her at all times. Penny would hopefully sleep, but bouncing a crying baby in the Bjorn is second nature, I could handle it. Ella, as usual, was the biggest potential problem. Would she throw a fit about being strapped into the cart? Would she grab food from the cart as I put it in, throwing it on the ground or trying to open boxes and eat the contents?
I physically prepared for the outing: snacks for the car ride, water, fed the baby, made sure Samantha used the potty, shoes for everyone, into car seats. Forty minutes later, we were all in the car ready to go. I advised the girls I expected them to behave in the store. Ella was to sit in the cart and Samantha to stay next to me.
As we drove, the two older girls began to fight. Ella was deliberately annoying her sister by poking her. Whining began. I considered punting the outing, but we needed food or there would be nothing but whining at home. As we pulled into the parking lot, I again reminded the girls of my expectations, and began to unload them from the car.
As I was getting out carrying the Bjorn, the woman in the car next to me smiled, getting her own about one and half year old out of the car. I could see her thinking about having a baby young enough for the Bjorn and all the things she could share with a new mother. Then, as my car began to empty, child after child, like a clown car, her face changed from warm, and inviting, to something between shock and horror at the thought of handling three small children alone.
I had forgotten I needed to carry my cloth bags to this store, so I had to take a minute to adjust everyone: baby in Bjorn, Ella and bags in one hand, Samantha holding my other hand. I got two offers to help carry my bags and get the cart for me in the short walk from the car to the store. I declined, I needed to know I could do this alone.
Into the grocery store we went with no complaints about the seating arrangement from Ella, Penny fast asleep, and Samantha following within arm’s reach. Around the store we went, the older girls helping to pick apples and deciding we should try purple potatoes. Around the store we went, no problems. To the check out counter we went. Two people came to help unload the cart for me (I let them, it’s there job and the baby was heavy and awkward). Then out to the car we went, back into the car seats without fighting and back home, unscathed from the first Yoshimoto girls outing. I did it! Watch out world, we have emerged.