The morning of Christmas Eve, Sean and I were at Wal-Mart gathering up a few last minute things for my mother-in-law’s birthday, which is Christmas Eve.
Sean was really into the concept of celebrating Memaw’s birthday. He wanted to bake a birthday cake for her, so we bought cake mix and icing and sparkly sugar. He wanted to put flowers on the table so I paid $9 for semi-slimy flowers from the Isle of Misfit Flowers. He wanted to buy her a present so he picked out the most hideous rug in the universe from the holiday housewares clearance row. It was the last of its kind and looked as though it might have even been stepped on or run over by a cart a few times.
I tried my best to talk him out of it. I tried to convince him that maybe she would prefer something less rug-like, but his heart was set on this $2 kitchen rug featuring hideously happy little cartoon birds in happy little cartoon birdhouses, the kind of rug that would be perfect for your house – if you have a sofa and/or a toilet in your front yard. So I threw it in the cart. Along with some maraschino cherries that caught his eye and a Lightning McQueen shirt two sizes too small for him and a few other things which I had no intention of buying. And the hearts of all the people in the land swelled with happiness and contentment.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t invent this mothering trick and I’m also pretty sure many of you will think that I’m a pretty rotten mother for wholly embracing this mothering trick, yet I also know that many of you do it yourselves (and you’re the ones I want to party with) — But! A lot of times when Sean and I are shopping, I let him put stuff in the cart which I have no intention of buying. And then when he is distracted at the checkout with the M&Ms and Britney’s bald head, I take these things out of the cart and put them in the cart of either the lady behind or in front of me. No, not really. I don’t do that other than just that one time with the Pokemon cards.
In an ideal cooperative world, I would put my “heck-no-I’m-not-buying-this” item in the cart of the lady behind me, who would then put it in the cart of the lady behind her, where there would be stationed a permanent Antique Mommy Memorial HNINBT Cart, sponsored by the Antique Mommy Psychiatric Memorial Endowment Fund for frazzled mothers everywhere.
So then, when Sean was busy rehearsing his closing arguments for the large package of M&Ms, I put the rug in an empty cart that was strategically placed behind a big bin of holiday DVDs. Into the stragically placed cart, no doubt put there by another mother, I also put the maraschino cherries and the other HNINBT items.
As I was sliding my credit card, Sean cried out, “Mommy! Where is the rug for Memaw? Where is that beautiful rug!!?”
The young gal behind me in line, who saw me offload the beautiful rug – a young child-free gal wearing makeup, nice clothes and heels, a gal clutching a basket and not a cart, a gal who no doubt had not yet been to the maternal warzone or had her metal tested by a child, gave me a judgmental “I can’t believe you did that” look with the slight raise of an eyebrow. Judgment – it resides in the eyebrows, did you know that?
Luckily for me, I don’t really care what strangers in Wal-Mart think, so I told Sean that it must have fallen off the cart and that we would go shopping later and get her another one. What a shame about that beautiful rug.
So yes. I won’t lie about Santa but I will lie about an ugly rug. And salt. I will definitely lie about salt. And maybe a few other things that are ugly or messy. Or noisy. I will only lie only about things that are ugly, messy or noisy. I have my morals and standards and whatnot. Stop judging me people. I have more than enough judgment for myself.
Prologue: Later that same day, I went back to Wal-Mart, found the hideous rug and bought it. Sean was thrilled. When Memaw unwrapped it, she pretended to be thrilled.
And the hearts of all the people in the land swelled with happiness and contentment. And a
little lot of judgment.