As a mom, I’m often so busy going about the stuff of my life that I don’t really think about what I must look like while I’m doing it. It’s only ever so often that I get a chance to step outside myself for just a second to see what other people see. When those, shall we say, opportunities, arise, it’s a coin toss as to whether I get a second to be proud of myself because, hey, I’m doing okay, or be utterly mortified.
Life presented me with one of those moments today. I took baby onto one of the local military bases to get get his scheduled check up. Since the clinic was right next to the commissary, the on-post grocery store, I decided I should stock up on a few eats for the weekend. The post exchange was about a block down the road, so I then decided to stop there to pick up a few random items–children’s vitamins and anti-wrinkle cream. (That right there says a lot.) The gas station was another block down, so I decided I should fill up the truck because gas was $0.11 cheaper on post. And the Class Six, the post liquor store, was next to the gas station, so I decided that I should probably stock up on a few summer beverages to get me through this nice heat wave we’re having. I was imagining that there would be nothing better after a long day of hard work to cool off with a delicious vodka tonic later that evening.
So because motherhood is the ultimate quest for efficiency, I decided if I was at the Class Six, I should just stock up because I wasn’t sure when I was going to be on post again. So, into the cart went the bottle of vodka. I turned the aisle and a box of Coronas looked really good given the 98 degree temps outside. And I might as well stock up on some refreshing white wine; all I had in the house was some red plus my mother-in-law is coming to town and she only drinks white. So, into my cart went 12 bottles of white wine. (There’s a 10% discount when you buy a case of wine.)
So, as I’m checking out I see a young soldier and his dad stocking up for what was clearly a graduation party. And I hear the dad say, “Look, at that cute baby.”
In that second, I turned to take in the scene. Yup, I was that woman who had her infant in a liquor store with a cart full of booze at 10:30am. And thus why today my kid is the Babycham Babe.
(As an aside, for anyone who doesn’t recognize the Babycham reference, here’s your Mad Men trivia. It was a light sparkling perry, essentially a hard cider made from pears and named after a Jamaican dancehall artist, that was marketed and sold in England in the 1960s and 1970s. The thing that is notable about the lively cocktail is that it’s really the first adult beverage marketed specifically to women.)
But to get back to the story…
I was completely embarrassed as I was waiting in the checkout line. And of course, my kid was babbling away, smiling at people, being totally cute, and otherwise drawing lots of attention to the fact that I was “that” mother. I half debated casually mentioning to the cashier that I was planning on having a barbecue this weekend so I wouldn’t feel so awkward and look so conspicuous. But I knew I couldn’t lie well enough to make the story believable.
In all reality, there was nothing wrong with what I did. I’m sure I wasn’t the only mother to drag her kids into the liquor store that day. I mean, when you’re on your own to run all the household errands, there’s no way to avoid taking your kid into the liquor store with you whenever it is that you have time to actually make the stop.
But I definitely get a totally awkward feeling whenever I buy booze with baby. I feel like every cashier is looking at my purchase and thinking, “Man, she probably needs that bottle of wine after the day she’s had. That kid must be a handful.” In reality, the exact opposite is true. Things are usually rather under control by 7pm every night and there’s little I like doing more than sitting out on my back deck with my glass of wine, throwing the ball for the dog and watching the lightning bugs come out. I feel like I can breathe again after what inevitably was a busy and somewhat stressful day.
But that awkward feeling is the exact reason I often buy box o’wine. Some of my friends think I’m crazy, but there are a lot of pluses to box o’wine. (And I’m seriously not alone; there’s even a Facebook page for people who feel similarly.)
First, it’s really come a long way from my college Franzia days. It’s actually not that bad. Maybe I wouldn’t serve it for a dinner party, but for me, when I’m by myself, it definitely will suffice.
But the second reason is probably the real reason I buy it. Unless I get a chance to get on post to get to the Class Six to do some bulk buying, most of my booze purchases are done at Target, as I’m swinging to pick up more diapers, Swiffer pads, and Milk Bone Minis. (My life in six words or less.) And most often I’m on foot, so I’m limited by the size of the basket underneath my stroller as to what I can buy and get home.
In a typical Target box o’wine, there are supposedly four bottles. So, one cardboard cube will not only last me quite a while, but it fits conveniently under my stroller, is a heck of a lot lighter than four glass bottles, and also elicits none of the telltale clanking around that four bottles make as I’m wheeling through Target at 10:00am.
And of course, the box o’wine is a safer alternative to glass bottles. Point in case was my experience today. After the major effort I made to stock up on pretty much any kind of booze that our current heatwave may make me thirst for, I found my dreams of a refreshing vodka tonic this evening completely shattered. Literally. As I was unloading the car, the bag with the vodka broke, dropping the yet-to-be-opened bottle right onto my patio stone, and smashing it into a gazillion blue slivers of glass. Luckily I had stocked up on wine because when life gave me chards, I still had chardonnay.