"I DO NOT want to make another shopping trip! I hate this--it's not fair! Whaaaaaaaaa!!!" Whining is not attractive, especially when it is me (not my kids) who are whining. Allow me to explain. I do not like taking my girls (ages 4 and 6) grocery shopping with me, especially for big trips. From the looks I get, I suspect that the other customers in the store and our cashier aren't too fond of it, either.
During the school year, I can usually schedule my time so that I can go to the store by myself, but during the summer, my girls often go with me.
Before we are in the store, the girls are arguing about who gets to sit in which kid's seat in the cart. Soon, there is a chorus of "Gimmie this! Gimmie that!" ringing in my ears. I am always amazed at the "wingspan" of Mika and Macy as they stretch both arms out to grab items they want off the shelves with uncanny precision. Then one child touches the other without permission, and there is a shouting match and a call for me to referee. By the time we make our way to the car, I have told each of them to "be quiet!" "sit down!" "put that back!" "stop hitting your sister!" and "YOU'RE EMBARRASSING ME!" approximately 1000 times.
In the past, as a prelude to an upcoming shopping trip, I would begin to complain about taking a shopping trip with my daughters, who ought to know how to act better by now, but due to some defective parenting on my part, don't.
Then I read this quote in Ron Sider's "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger:"
"Sometimes I think, 'If I die I won't have to see my children suffering as they are.' Sometimes I even think of killing myself. So often I see them crying, hungry, and there I am, without a cent to buy them some bread. I think, 'My God, I can't face it! I'll end my life. I don't want to look anymore!" --Iracema de Silva, resident of a slum in Brazil
I was shaken by the realization that there are literally hundreds of millions of mothers in the world who are watching their children starve who would joyfully walk many miles in their bare feet with all eight of their children in tow if they could find a store that had something, anything, for them to eat.
And I complain about the inconvenience of driving my two little ones to Wal-Mart and enduring a little sibling rivalry and condescending looks from other shoppers while I stuff my cart full of food?
So, I am done whining about taking my kids grocery shopping with me. I am also done complaining because the store is out of an ingredient for a recipe I want to prepare for that evening. So what, I have to cook something else or stop at another store with my kids?
I promise to no longer complain about the "high cost of food." Our basket is overflowing with all the food our bodies need plus many extras as well--Fritos, Tinkerbell fruit snacks, and Blue Bell Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream. And it is a privilege to have enough money to pay for ALL of it.
The point of reflecting on quotes like the one above from the anguished mother in Brazil is not to make me feel guilty, but to cause me to feel grateful.
So if you happen to see me and my girls in the grocery store and I look like I'm about to lose it, please remind me to have a heart of gratitude for the remarkable blessing of buying groceries for my family each week.