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Tracy Briggs, Published November 17 2009

Parenting Perspectives: An open letter to grocery stores

Dear Mr. Grocery Store Corporate Executive Guy,

I wanted to express my appreciation and thanks to you for your generosity in setting aside special spots in your store parking lots for “Future Moms.” Obviously, your corporate hearts are in the right place. How much faster and easier it is now for pregnant women to waddle their way to the grocery store in search of Oreo cookies and Cheetos!

I certainly took advantage of the perk when I was pregnant with my two children. Although it didn’t always work for me. I’m married to a Scandinavian. When faced with the decision of whether we should use the primo spot or not, he seemed to believe that we somehow didn’t deserve it. I’m somewhat less Scandinavian, and being eight months pregnant in January, I figured if I wasn’t entitled to it, who was? We ended up parking very far away (I think I could see Russia from my car). I was 35 pounds heavier than normal, my feet were swollen like watermelons, and now he was delaying my Oreo/Cheeto gratification. He’s a good husband and father, so I choose not to bring this up every day. But I digress.

So, Mr. Grocery Store Corporate Executive Guy, I do appreciate your thoughtfulness to pregnant women everywhere, but I’d like to ask you go a step further: Right next to your “FUTURE MOM” spots, can you add a spot for “CURRENT PARENT OF SMALL CHILDREN”?

I personally find trips to the grocery store much more challenging with two small children than when I was pregnant. Going to the grocery store with my daughters is an adventure. It usually starts with one or both of them begging to use your Winnebago-sized kid carrier cart, which they then abandon before we’re out of the produce section. I’m left trying to maneuver this behemoth monster cart while they’re making a bee-line for the sample doughnut holes or cookie pieces.

As they eat their samples, I must fight my way through temptation after young temptation, chief among them the cereal aisle, where a 7-year-old’s dream comes true: a place where Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups come in cereal form and colored marshmallows seem as vital to breakfast as bran. Or the fruit snack aisle, where the kids try to convince me, “But, Mom, you always say we should eat more fruit!”

I’m battle weary, but I fight on. The checkout lane lined with candy: “Mommmmmmm … PUH-LEASE, CAN I HAVE THIS? I’M SO HUNGRY!” I suggest making them a sandwich when we get home. I get eyerolls.

By the time we reach the vending machines in the foyer, they’re desperate: “MOM … PUH-LEASE CAN I HAVE A QUARTER?” Apparently, being denied Skittles in the checkout lane makes them crave crappy trinkets and rubber balls.

Then after having all the things they NEED being repeatedly denied by the world’s meanest mom, they argue over who gets to ride the cart out to the parking lot. Whichever daughter doesn’t get to ride oftentimes decides that it’s a good idea to run ahead of us, which starts my heart racing almost as fast as some of the people who whiz through the parking lot.

Phew! Oh how nice it would be to have a close parking spot enabling me to more quickly strap the little darlings in their car seats where they can’t do any more damage, er, I mean where I can get them safely home.

So Mr. Grocery Store Corporate Executive Guy, thank you for what you did for us in the nine months before our children were born. But can you cut us some slack for the next few years? I’ll make it worth your while. I’ll even start paying for the doughnut holes.

Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and a personality for WDAY AM 970.