I remember when I had our first son… in 2006. Such an adorable sweet (tiny) baby boy. I was over the moon excited. As he grew and our family grew, it would become harder and harder to get out. It was when I stopped putting my cart back.
With only one child, I could easily run to the store, grab what I needed, unpack it all into the trunk, run the cart back to the store (with him still in it) and then I would carry him back to the car.
Six years later… I had a four year old, a two year old, an infant and a baby on the way. One day, in the dead of winter, I was out grocery shopping. I had over 20 bags (yes, really) after I checked out, not to mention the boxes of diapers, gallons of milk and other un-bagged items.
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I knew that I had two options:
1- Unload the groceries with kids still standing beside me (two in the cart) while I unloaded the groceries. This wasn’t going to work because it was so cold and they were so young and didn’t need to be out in the cold like that.
2- Put the kids into the car, unload the groceries, lock the doors and run the cart back to the store.
I had always opted for #2, because I had been in the shoes of the driver who pulls into the space only to find a cart there. I think “Oh man… are you kidding me? Just walk it back into the store. Why would you leave it here and block the spot?”
So, like always, on that trip I opted for #2. When I got home and I was telling my parents about how exhausting it is to shop with three kids, while being pregnant. I was telling them about my cart dilemma when my dad told me something that I won’t forget:
“Be careful. You are a target. You are 4’11, petite, shopping alone with young kids. You are distracted while you are out with all of them. The next time that you are in that situation, leave your cart where you are and get into the car. Don’t ever leave those kids in the car to run the cart to the store or to the cart corral in the parking lot. Either park beside one next time, ask someone to walk it in for you if they are walking in already, or just leave it there.”
That’s when it dawned on me. How many times had I put our kids into a dangerous situation? Stories like this or this. Buckled up in a car while I was 15 feet away, putting the cart back? It doesn’t take long to grab a child, especially from the door that I can’t see on the other side of the van. It doesn’t take long to follow me out to the car, pinpoint how they will do it and take one of my children.
So… A few years ago, I changed my routine:
1- Park right beside a cart corral.
2- If someone is passing me, walking into the store, I will ask them to please return the cart to the store for me (I have never had someone not understand).
3- Worst case scenario, is that I become one of the THOSE people – the ones leaving their cart on the median or the sidewalk (I never park in the middle of the parking lot because I do want to be able to put it away)
That time has now passed… now, our kids are old enough to help me unload, so it is no longer an issue. We all walk the cart back together (and pick up a few stranded carts along the way). We help the other moms that have babies & aren’t wanting to leave their car. These little pay it forward moments are ones that are important… we help each other.
We all have ‘moments’ in our lives where we have to do things to get through those phases, those chapters of life. Do what is safe and right for your family…. even if it bothers the rest of the world for a few years. Moral of the story: never judge a book by its cover. ♥
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