Shopping used to take all Day
If you’re reading this and don’t have a toddler, lucky for you. I bet it feels great to buy your cheese and meat from two different stores. Heck, I know it feels great because that’s what I used to do. I would get my meat from a butcher that would take her time telling me about all the different cuts, which farm the meat came from, what a happy and fulfilled life the animal had lived and on and on. I would stand there just soaking it up like the privileged millennial-hipster-yuppie I am...uh, was.
I would drive by the mega stores on my way to a quaint little farm on the outskirts of Calgary. I would think to myself, “What’s wrong with people? Why do they shop at megastores?” Plus, the farm was so peaceful, I hardly noticed that I spent 50 times more for the best berries and root vegetables around.
Then it happened.
We had a baby and everything changed. Our baby napped every hour and a half for 40 minutes. This meant that, after he woke up, ate, and was changed, we didn’t have much time. Actually, we had about 4 minutes to pack up the car with clothes, toys, and the stroller, and get to the store before his next nap.
With our limited time, we stuck to the essentials. We basically lived off hand roasted, ethically grown, Costa Rican coffee and artisanal, locally grown, in-season, pickled root vegetables. It was hard times.
I know what you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you just go and have your wife stay with the baby?” Or you’re thinking, “Wait, what? You were home with the baby also?”
Whoa, what’s with all the questions?
First, we didn’t divide and conquer because we were first time parents and felt the need to shower our new baby with the love and attention of two adults at all times. Sure, there were times when it was essential for me to go alone but, for the most part, we did everything as a family.
Second, if you are confused as to why I was also home with our new baby, you can get all the answers you need by reading how I became a Stay at Home Dad.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t plan on it.
Something had to Give
Then, one day, while traveling to a remote location to get some wild hand-foraged mushrooms, we hit major traffic. We were only 10 minutes into our 2-hour drive. Cars were everywhere and lined up for miles into the distance.
We could escape the gridlock, however, if we took the exit on our right. The exit just happened to lead straight into the parking lot of one of those inorganically placed giant shopping plazas. It contained every generic big box store you could imagine. We had a choice to make and we made it. We took the exit.
As soon as we got into the parking lot, we noticed that there were designated parking spots for people with small children. I remember thinking, “This is nice!” Since we were only going to get a few things, we parked in the designated spot.
I got out of the car, put both feet on the ground and looked around. I saw SUV’s and Minivans in every shade of grey, white, and black. There were half eaten Love Child Organic pouches on the ground. I saw a single mitten and a ninja turtle action figure lying beside either a vehicle or a yacht. It was too large to view all at once so I couldn’t tell.
We went inside the megastore to find it had everything. Never mind the fact that it had tires, clothes, and couches all in the same store. It also had milk, meat, and vegetables all in the same store!
Then it hit me. This is convenient. This is efficient. This is a family friendly way to shop!
We strolled through the aisles filled with endless varieties of cereals, soups, and cleaning products. The carts were large enough to fit both our car seat and the groceries. The store was thoughtful enough to install ceiling fans to entertain the babies.
We quickly breezed through the check out thanks to the convenient fact that there were 85-lanes to choose from. We got back to our car and back on the highway with plenty of time to make it home for the next nap.
Just our Luck
On the highway, heading in the opposite direction of the traffic jam, we spotted something. At the top of the next hill was a roadside stand, selling cases of wild hand-foraged mushrooms. My initial reaction was excitement. My wife asked, “Should we stop and get some?”
I paused to reflect on everything that had just happened and I realized something: our days of specialized food shopping and eating are officially gone for now. We no longer have the time on Saturdays to drive to several stores after sleeping in and drinking lattes. The truth of the matter slowly sunk in: We’ve become those people. We need the convenience of a megastore.
With my wife still waiting for a response, I said, “We had better not. We don’t have any room left in the car… maybe we need a bigger vehicle?”