Until recently, I haven’t been able to adequately put into words one of the biggest stressors in my daily life. Then I learned it has a simple name: decision fatigue. Now, my understanding is that so-called decision fatigue has a specific pattern, but for my purposes, it simply means how frickin’ exhausting, overwhelming, and paralyzing it can be to make the myriad of choices I need to make each and every day, both big and small.
The fact that these decisions are never-ending and cyclical makes it even more maddening – what to make for breakfast as soon as I get up (and lunch and dinner!), what to wear that will actually fit, what to buy at the store that’s healthy and not-too-expensive, what to get for someone’s birthday that is personal and meaningful and not-too-expensive but not-too-cheap, what to teach my children that will cater to their learning styles and foster a love of learning but still accomplish our educational goals, how to effectively discipline when I’m sick of the same attitude problems over and over and always feel like “the bad guy,” what issues to communicate to my husband that won’t start an argument, how to keep on keeping on when my introverted self is sick of talking and I just want to hide under the covers with some dark chocolate.
Choices, choices, choices!
Hm… perhaps this should be more of a post on choices. But I digress. This is simply to set up one of the more exhausting tasks I face each week: grocery shopping.
I used to love grocery shopping (and, don’t get me wrong, it still has its merits…) – picking fun recipes to try, deciding what we’ll get to eat, throwing in some treats for good measure (the bakery sale section – *swoon*).
But these days, more often than not, I simply dread it. Dragging the kids along, having the obligatory “this is how we’re going to behave” speech in the car (obviously one they choose to ignore), making sure I have my list and coupons, carefully choosing items and trying to stay within budget, trying to decide what to do if the items on my list are unavailable or not on sale as I’d hoped, talking at the kids aisle after aisle to “move over” and “get out of that person’s way” and “don’t knock that over!” and “no we’re not getting that today” and “stop running around this isn’t a playground” and “come back here!” and “no we’re not going to look at the toys” and “yes we’re almost done I just have to get one more thing” and “oh wait I forgot something” and and and… and by the end I still have to go through the checkout lane and remind them to stay with me and behave. *sigh* Sometimes I sit in the car afterwards and sigh a deep sigh… or, honestly, have a good cry at how tired I am from the simple act of grocery shopping. And I still have to go home, put it all away, and answer to the cries of “what’s for lunch?”
Yesterday was one of those days. Except… let me share the icing on top (typically, this expression might denote something good, but allow me some sarcasm).
Add to the typical shopping experience a fussy, squirmy, squealing baby strapped to my body and that brings us to the checkout lane…
I’m loading my items on the belt, making sure the kids stay with me, holding Gabe’s head as I lean over for each item. I breathe a sigh of relief as I remember to grab a gift card for someone – phew, almost forgot that! I had unloaded about three-quarters of my cart when, almost in slow-motion, I see something fall of the belt and land on the floor in a crash of glass and liquid. I stared, dumbfounded, at the shattered glass and liquid all over the floor. I didn’t even think to apologize because I didn’t do anything. Everyone exclaims, “What happened?” “Is it glass?” “Don’t move!” Normally I would rush to clean up my own mess but I couldn’t do anything, so I just stood there. Addy asks over and over, “Why did that fall? What happened?” My face turns red, I feel horrible and just want to melt into a puddle of mortification, and Gabe takes care of voicing the negative emotions I’m feeling (after all, he has no qualms).
Admittedly, the staff all try to make me feel okay about it and jump in to help, assuring me it’s okay, but I didn’t want the attention. A manager starts unloading the rest of the items in my cart and I assure her I’m fine. Someone asks if I want another bottle of soy sauce (the offending item) and I say “no, that’s alright – just forget about it” and they insist they’ll get me one so I say “fine, fine, sure” and then they get the more expensive bottle and the cashier says that wasn’t the one I wanted and I say “that’s fine, really, thank you, I’ll take it.” The whole time Addy keeps asking me squeaky, annoying questions.
Normally I’m patient and friendly and don’t mind that the bagger is a bit slow and clumsy with her task, but yesterday it made matters worse. She piles things randomly in bags, sometimes putting only two items per bags, other times dumping them in in odd assortments, then putting them randomly in the cart, causing a big pile, so she loudly says “Where do I put the rest of the stuff?” and I assure her we’ll carry the extra bags. Along the way she says to the casher “I don’t know what to do, I need help!” All the while, someone is cleaning up my mess and Addy asking “Who’s that lady?” What’s her name?” *sigh*
We finally get out of there, overloaded cart and hands full of bags even though we didn’t get anymore groceries than usual, and I wearily load everything into the car. I gulp back the tears, get in my seat, and sit there before starting the engine… to go home, unload the groceries, and make lunch (having no idea what to make for lunch).
Wash, rinse, repeat.