I used to hate grocery shopping. I really, truly hated it with an unbridled passion. There were so many other things I would have rather been doing like weaving a basket or giving the fish a bath. But since Director of Purchasing was one of my job titles the chore fell to me.
Until three years ago. As is so often the case, chemotherapy wreaked havoc on my white cells. Week one – treatment; week two – white count low enough to be dangerous, but not low enough for insurance to cover a cell booster; week three – white count low enough for a series of shots; week four/one – white count high enough for treatment. Until my second round. My last three treatments were each delayed a week because of low white counts. I was strongly advised to stay away from the public. Since I was a Stay At Home Mom it wasn’t a problem, just an incredible inconvenience.
In my introductory post I mentioned the kids and I lived in Central Arkansas while my husband worked near Philadelphia and came home every other weekend, a little long to go between grocery store visits. I could, and often did, rely on friends and my parents to go to the store for me. But depending on others 24/7 gets old and sometimes I just wanted to do things myself. Except I couldn’t go into the grocery store. It was a fairly small community and no doubt I would run into someone who wanted to hug me (because I’m just huggable, I guess).
Enter my children, then 10 and 13. The three of us would make the list and I would write it out according to the grocery aisles. A stop at the drive-thru ATM for cash and then off to the store we’d go. What an invaluable lesson it turned out to be for them. Taylor and Katie learned to compare prices and how to work together, the latter being a feat of epic proportions. They got to where they’d go over the list together and split up to save time, meeting back at the designated area when finished. Then, of course, was checking out – a whole experience in itself.
Grocery shopping is just one example of things Taylor and Katie were forced into due to my circumstances. I think it’s fair to say that children of mothers with cancer grow up faster in some ways. I remember as a child thinking my parents would live forever and what a jolt it was when a friend’s father had a mortal heart attack. Kids with an ill parent are faced with a reality they wouldn’t have otherwise been subject to.
It all sounds so sad – and really, who among us doesn’t want our kids to just be kids? But it’s not all horrible. The lessons in compassion, care, service, shopping, etc., learned by my tween and teen only serve to make them responsible adults some day.
Funny how they forgot to clean the toilets well once mom was able to do it again, though…