I went grocery shopping today with all my kids in tow.  I usually try go only at night after my husband is home from work even if its at 10:00pm just so I can go by myself, but some things just can’t wait. I try to only do this when the mood is right. Not with me, I mean, with them. Easier said then done.

I rarely make a list because if I do I will just leave it on the kitchen counter and forget to bring it with me. So we go and we shop.  If all goes well, it will be relatively painless. They will continuously ask “Mom, can we get this?’ and I will do some strength training by lifting my 2 and 4-year-old in and out of the shopping cart for the duration of our time in the store. Sound familiar?

When we get to the check out it can be a little more tricky. Each child likes to “help” take the groceries out and place them on the check out counter. While 3 are acting as decoys, there is always another child placing something on the conveyor belt that I had no intention to purchase (ie. candy or gum) so I have to stay alert.

I noticed a woman got on the line behind us and she didn’t have much in her cart so that always makes me feel pressured.  I would have let her go ahead of us but we already started the check out process.  As I was busy putting the groceries in bags she smiled at me politely and said to me “How do you do it?”

My gut instinct would be to answer sarcastically here and say I put all the frozen stuff together and the eggs and bread are packed separately and placed on top but I censored myself and smiled. I knew by the way she was looking at us what it was she was referring to. She meant how do get my shopping done with 4 young children or even better yet, how do I get through the day?

I know she was being polite and it’s not the first time I’ve been asked that question but sometimes it can make me just a little uncomfortable in front of my kids. I don’t want then to ever feel like an inconvenience. I smiled back at her and then I was distracted by an argument over who was going to get back in the cart vs. who will push the cart and then I paid the cashier and we left.

On our way home I was thinking about the woman’s question and I thought …

“Yeah, how do I do it anyway? How do I get through the day? “

It made me think. There are no rehearsals, no game plans and no practice plays, yet some day I feel more like a referee than a mom. There is only one strategy and that’s to keep everything happy and peaceful and if that is the outcome I consider it a job well done and the game has been won. I always think about what if I knew this would be the last day I could ever spend with my kids?- how would I want them to remember me? That’s when I realize that I have to let all the small and insignificant things go. I don’t complain to them about the mess on the floor but I always make it a priority to compliment them on their artwork instead.  I often become a mediator and settle disputes over toys when asked but I also praise them when they are caring and loving toward each other.  I need to show them all the important things that really matter in life so that they always feel loved and never like an inconvenience.  Each day I try my best to make sure I hug them, kiss them, listen to them, tell them I love them and make them laugh as much as possible.

So the next time someone asks me “How do you do it?” I will give them the most simple and honest answer that I can. I will say patience, love, kindness and an awesome sense of humor.

So, how do you do it?

Cathy Moryc Recine writes a monthly Parenting column for Muse In The Valley. She lives in Manorville  New York, with her husband and four children ages 9, 6, 4 and 2. She works as a mom,  yet still finds time to enjoy the things that keep her unique.   Her winning FB update of the month:  “I am the marshmallow toasting/s’mores making master.”


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