I have become that which I have always pitied.
The one creature I swore I would never be.
You have all seen Her, for it is always a Her.
She is the woman with the half filled grocery cart, list in hand.
She is in comfortable clothing, never heels, never anything that will constrict her movement.
She comes with children, messy-haired, often with food-encrusted faces, and stained clothing. You can't be sure what they look like, they move to fast, speak too loudly and if you do try to stare, you will slowly begin to feel dizzy, followed by a mind-numbing thrumming you hear in your head, and then, you will see the yellowish color that usually precedes a faint.
These children, who start off with shoes but may lose them at some point, are an extension of the Woman.
They are loud, and She is loud. They do not stay in any one place, but rather move around the Woman in a circular motion, dancing, stomping, crawling, singing, fast, fast, loud, loud, never slow, never soft. She too, is in constant motion, an arm stretching here to pull one back, a twirl there to catch another, a bend and reach to look into the eyes of a third. A 'good job' and kiss when one surprises her with obedience.
Her voice can be heard loudly several aisles down, corralling the wild ones, her goal -- simply to keep them as close to the cart as possible. She does not deal with the noise. The noise is to them what oxygen is to us.
She is a menace to those trying to get down the same aisle, because though there is room for two carts, the constant motion of Children and Mom around the cart block the way. It takes a large and loud effort of high-pitched noises on the part of the Woman to make the cyclone of children stop and stand by the cart. This noise can be heard 14 aisles down, and in produce.
The elder sibling, who should know better, brings organization to the scattered children, leading them to higher and higher states of frenzied behavior. They now dance and sing loudly in the aisle, rather than simply hopping and jumping around the cart.
The Woman is always trying to find a bottle or box or carton of something, usually pushed all the way back by one of the children. At the same time, she is imploring the wayward creatures to use walking feet, enticing compliance with a mix of rules, threats and treats.
By the time this Woman, this MOM has made it to the cash register, she has lines on her face that were not there before, a cart full of mostly things on the list, some strange items she politely explains she does not want, and usually spends a few moments digging through the cart for her purse, since during the first few aisles, it becomes buried. By this time, she's composed herself, and dons a fake plastered smile that dares the world to believe she wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world, that this is nothing to her, not even the zle in frazzle. And when they kindly ask if she would like help, the answer is most usually yes, because it takes everything just to get the children to the car, never mind the groceries as well.
This is the Grocery Store Mom.
If you see Her, be kind, and simply go down the next aisle and back track, because She can not leave and come back later. She needs the food, has already put off the trip several times, and is there because She can no longer wait. It is not her intent to annoy you, make you grumpier, or inflict her misbehaving bored children on you. In fact, She went because it is a time that nobody else ever goes. If you feel you must scowl, or glower or glare, it is okay. She will not see it. She will not even be aware of your presence, such is the strength of her resolve to 'get this shopping done' and the intensity with which She tends to the children.
Her goal is to get in and out as fast as possible, and while She would love it if her children were silent, complacent passengers on the trip, it is the nature of her children to be loud and in motion, and the mere fact they are in the same aisle as the Woman is an amazing achievement that can only be appreciated by other creatures with multiple offspring.