Before kids, my husband and I would often grocery shop together. So, when we had our first child, naturally, we tried making it a family thing. Shopping with a baby wasn’t bad (we’re blessed with good babies) but eventually that baby turned into a toddler who wanted to touch everything, pull jars off of shelves, etc. I thought to myself “Why did I think this would be fun to do all together? Certainly there are more fun things to do to enjoy time all together as a family. Like go to the playground. Or skipping rocks.” (Ok maybe this was a gratuitous attempt to insert a cute picture from vacation)
And from that day forward, I have attempted to shop by myself WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
Tonight was one of those nights. I was rockin’ it. I went to four stores and got gas within less than an hour. BOOM!
But it was in that third store, that it happened. I was inspired. Sometimes I am inspired by a mom who has 3 kids under control in the store (I only was daring enough to have two kids) and is managing to clip coupons and chat calmly with her kids (a skill I have NOT mastered). She is woman, hear her ROAR. Once I saw a mom who was walking around the store nursing her baby while picking out healthy food for her family. I stopped her and told her that if you can do THAT you can do ANYTHING. I think she thought I was a bit nuts.
And, you know what, there are lots of amazing mom blogs out there commending the mom who is in the trenches with small children and working hard. One of my favorites tells these moms to “Carry On, Warrior” and talks of a kid peeing in a corner.
But what I saw tonight was not a warrior mom. It was a warrior dad. A dad whose efforts, like most dads, are more often than not overlooked.
Picture him, wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. He had on a golf shirt, khakis and a visor hat. I noticed him first as his daughter, maybe 12, was talking about what I gather was cheerleading camp. She talked fast and incessantly to him, much like my little girls are known to do, about how her hands hurt. Maybe from clapping. Maybe from all the back handsprings. She really didn’t know, but her hands hurt every time she clapped. Watch dad, see how it hurts. If you have a little girl in your life, you probably know what I am talking about.
He wandered somewhat aimlessly picking out products. Unlike the 15 minutes I spend walking quickly up and down the aisles picking out my tried and true items, he was still in the first aisle when I left the store. My last glimpse of him was with his son, maybe 10 years old who looked like he spent the day at the pool. He happened to be barefoot. Which I’m pretty sure is against health code regulations.
And sometimes in our society, I think we like to make dads out to be doofuses who don’t know what they are doing. My initial reaction was to laugh. But as I hurried to the next store where I needed to pick up things for the latest Home Improvement Project, I started off confident but after about a dozen texts to my husband (I counted), realized that this was not my world. Just like Trader Joe’s and maybe listening to cheerleading camp details and, ahem, finding shoes for your son might not be this sweet dad’s deal.
I imagined this dad’s story. Maybe he encouraged his wife to go out of town with her girlfriends while he did his job AND hers. Gaining a new appreciation after 5 hours alone with the kids, no doubt. Maybe they’re a couple struggling to make ends meet and she picked up an evening job – leaving him to pick the kids up from camp and do the shopping. Maybe he is recently divorced, still heartbroken and tonight is HIS night and he has to figure out what is for dinner (better hurry, it was almost 8 pm). In a couple of weeks, he’ll be trying to figure out how to squeeze homework into the routine too. Maybe he’s done the shopping for years, but just looks less confident than the average female shopper. I don’t know his story, but there are lots of men out there like him. Pulling their weight. Being team players. Being awesome.
I was on the phone with a friend once while I was trying to find a dish that my husband had WASHED and PUT AWAY in the wrong place and the friend commented negatively about how annoying that was. I said to her “Maybe you did not hear me right. My husband did the dishes.” We live in a wonderful time, ladies, when men do dishes.
I came home from this shopping trip somewhat proud of myself (did I mention I went to 4 stores in under an hour) but mostly hopped up about how awesome men are these days.
What I came home to was two happy little girls who’d had fun all day with their daddy. Albeit, my 9 year old was constantly checking to see if the jell-o had jell-o’d in the refrigerator. (Daddy tired, but it appears the jell-o is gong to remain more liquid-ish than we’d hoped). And my dining room table looked more like a war zone than a table (which is perplexing since the dishes I found in the living room indicate that dinner – plain noodles – was consumed in the living room). And my daughter’s hair had the biggest rat’s nest in it I have ever seen. Thankfully, they did not go out in public looking this way. This time.
So, I want to say to all the men out there who have braved the grocery store with their kids, or done dishes, or cooked dinner. Carry On, Warrior. You Kept Those Kids Alive. You supported your wife. You made it through the day. You are the unsung heroes that do half the housework and go unrecognized.
We are sorry for taking you for granted. We humbly bow down and apologize for all the times we accused you of not doing enough. You are wonderful for filling in the gaps. You are employees, husbands, fathers, sons. You have many irons in the fire. You’re doing an awesome job.
Carry on, warrior.
And maybe keep an extra pair of shoes in the car for your son. Just in case.
And if your daughter’s hands still hurt from clapping tomorrow, offer her an ice pack.