For the past three-and-a-half years,up until October, nearly all of my food shopping had been done with my boy in tow. When we lived in midtown, I shopped at a variety of places. Some days, I would slip Izzy in a sling and off we hop on the subway to the Union Square Greenmarket. I would bring along an empty backpack to carry on the way home. Admittedly this was not the comfiest way to shop but I knew of no other. I invariably bought too much and would come home, arms and back sore, backpack overflowing with all manner of comestibles.
Other days, we would board the bus to Fairway, shop and have most of our bags delivered (now that was sheer bliss)! These trips usually went off without a hitch until one incident which occurred on our way home. My boy must have been about 12 weeks old. I had decided to carry a few bags along with us. We had just boarded the bus when he started crying hysterically. People were glaring at me and giving me all sorts of awful advice as to how to quiet him when I knew all he needed was a bit of boobie. Problem was I was balancing too many things and I was unable to get him comfortable situated without help. Finally a young woman took pity on us and I was able to nurse him. Ah, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
For the most part, that was my shopping routine until Izzy was six months old and we moved to Jersey City. Then everything changed. Getting into the city meant a walk to the Path station, train ride and then subway ride because I would only use stroller- accessible stations (with elevators). Yet despite the time and trouble, I had to have my city food fix; either the Union Square market or Fairway, along with Zabar's, Beard Papa and other Upper West Side fixtures. I was fortunate to have a big, sturdy stroller in which I could stuff one bag of groceries and hang two on the side. I know I vaguely resembled a bag lady but it was worth it. Yet if I hung one bag too many, the entire stroller would tip forward, baby and all...And yes..it did happen.
To add to the challenge of just getting there and back, these shopping excursions needed to be scheduled around naps, diaper changes, nursing sessions, especially since my apartment was no longer just a cab ride or subway stop away. I would try to arrange everything to keep Izzy content since getting him out would require balancing the stroller which would inevitably tip over, cracking eggs, upsetting chickens and bruising tender lettuce. Most days I was lucky and he would wait until we were on the Path train home before he started howling to get out. I would often nurse him the whole way home, with my foot on the stroller, hoping it wouldn't tip over.
As time went on, I dropped the frequent trips uptown and started to look for more local shopping experiences. Trips to Hoboken were added to my repertoire and I decided I could live with Union Square and Whole Foods to meet my regular shopping needs. Occasional trips uptown became a treat. As it was, food shopping was occupying a huge part of my time. This began to change somewhat to accommodate Izzy and his changing needs. Shopping excursions had to be coupled with ample playtime or else I would have one unhappy child on my hands. So our routine evolved until eventually, just this past October, he started preschool.
With no Izzy at home in the morning, I had to do my shopping alone. At first it was lonely without my sidekick but the upside was that I could bring my granny cart and buy oodles more than I could before. Now I can get away with one, maybe too trips per week into the city.
I do miss our trips together so on weekends and during vacations he comes along, as he did yesterday. What is remarkable is that although he is older, the many of the same challenges remain. We no longer have a giant stroller, just a light portable one. It doesn't really hold that much and if I hang too many things on it and Izzy decides to hop out, as he is wont to do, the whole thing tips over. He still needs to play and eat so there is only so much I can get done...And sometimes he ends up falling asleep which is another problem since now he is too heavy to hoist up the steps in the event of a broken elevator..which we encountered yesterday.
To some it may seem that I go to extreme lengths to bring home food for my boys, and perhaps I do. Yet once I have the coveted eats at home, all the balancing seems worthwhile.