I have some big news here: We are expecting our second baby in August!!! I cannot wait to see Penelope as the big sister I know she was born to be. I am feeling great, and we couldn’t be happier. I feel so fortunate and full of joy that I could puke (can you believe that?!), and although I do a lot of self-deprecating in my writing, I am so very grateful. Other than one particularly rough week, when I could not move much from the couch and poor Penelope watched “Frozen” like 42 times because I was pretty useless past changing diapers and feeding her, I’ve been feeling pretty good.
And now that you know my big news, I need to tell you a story about the ridiculous shit-show that happened to me at the farmer’s market just a few days after I found out I was pregnant.
I take Penelope about once per week to the indoor farmer’s market in Charlotte, and we always stop by the pickle stand. This guy has the BEST pickles, and he always gives some to Penelope, which makes her quiet and content enough to let me do my shopping. (The sound of her crunching is, by the way, one of the most cutest sounds I ever heard.)
If she starts getting antsy once she’s through with the pickles, we pass by the olive oil cart, where the nice girl there gives Penelope samples of fresh-baked bread dipped in flavored olive oil. All this tasting takes care of lunch for P, and mama checks a chore off her list. Smooth sailing.
Until that fateful day a few weeks ago.
I got an email that morning from the farmer’s market about a “Pickle and Latke” festival they were doing, and well, a pregnant woman and pickles…you do the math. I’m not one for latkes, but could already taste the crunchy garlicky goodness from my favorite stand at the market. Commence cliched craving #1. On our way we went.
Lately Penelope doesn’t sit for too long in her stroller, so I planned on this being a short trip. We first visited the coffee bar so I could get my daily allotted caffeine fix. While waiting in line, I heard a POP! then what sounded like a waterfall. I looked around for a second but quickly realized that the culprit was sitting right in my stroller: Penelope had popped the spout out of her sippy cup and dumped all of the water onto the floor. This was the first move of this trip embarking on its downward spiral right into the shitter, but like a total moron, I ignored the sign.
“It’s OK!” said the extremely forgiving woman behind the counter. I cleaned it up, apologized profusely, and went on our way to get some pickles. “This will be quick,” I thought.
We met a nice lady on line at the pickle stand. She began talking up a storm to me, during which time Penelope, for some reason only toddlers can understand, decided she had had enough of her stroller, this conversation, this GODFORSAKEN PLACE. In mid-conversation, and in an effort to stop Penelope from whining, I decided to let her out of her stroller.
BIG FAT ROOKIE MISTAKE.
Once the beast was released she proceeded to run around the market at full-speed, getting into EVERYTHING (what did I think she was going to do?!). It doesn’t help that she now knows all the vendors in the market, and has no qualms about running up to them in search of food. (Just so we’re clear, Penelope is my perpetually hungry child, NOT a dog.)
Her first stop is to the olive oil stand, where she hits up the woman behind the counter for free bread samples dipped in oil and balsamic. I begin to chase after her. The lady I am speaking with decides for some reason to give chase along with me, keeping right beside me, continuing her conversation as if I am not running around the market chasing after a toddler in the middle of her very own reenactment of “Catch Me if You Can”. In fact, the lady doesn’t seem to notice at all, never breaking stride or conversation about her now grown son and daughter, their jobs, her hobbies, her thoughts on parenthood, reviews of recent movies, and on, and on.
“Mmhmmm! Oh that’s great!” I say, making a sad attempt to follow along while chasing after my daughter.
Meanwhile, Penelope is running wild, behind counters, back to the bread lady demanding more goods, behind the coffee counter…EVERYWHERE. As anyone with a toddler knows, she has zero interest in respecting personal boundaries or food that is not hers. I of course was following right behind her, nice lady by my side still, punctuating her ramblings with my yells of “NO TOUCH!” “Stop that.” “That’s the garbage.” “Yuck yuck!” “Not in the mouth!” I can’t even believe that the woman kept following me.
As I passed each vendor, led by Penelope, and in between conversations with the woman, I figured I may as well make use of this ridiculous chase. And so I started picking up items I needed on the fly: yogurt from here, a whole chicken from there, eggs from here, pickles from there. (Let’s not forget that the whole reason we came was for the pickles.) Into the stroller everything went, because if P wasn’t going to sit there, I might as well make use of it, right? I felt like I was playing the craziest treasure hunt game of my life.
I can’t be sure where, but I finally lost the lady, and I corralled my tiny human into a corner. The stroller was now filled with my market goodies, most notably a giant container of pickles (which I still had not tasted) and the frozen whole chicken, as well as the bag of 2 dozen eggs hanging off the stroller hook on the side. I put the brake on the stroller, got P’s jacket on her, and picked her up. People were staring. I was definitely that woman. But hey, I guess we all are that guy/girl at some point, right?
It didn’t matter, I was getting out of there. Yes! Thank god I was leaving! I began to push the stroller (carefully, so the eggs wouldn’t break) with my right hand while holding P on my hip with my left arm. I approached the exit door backwards, pushed with my back, and maneuvered the stroller out. I whirled it around and remembered how much I love how easy it is to do a 180-degree turn with this stroller. I can’t believe we did it!
But as I went to move forward through the doorway, I was suddenly jerked backward. “What the — ?” The strap on my pocketbook got hooked onto the lock on the door. I was STUCK. Before I could realize what happened, the stroller, containing the pickles, frozen chicken and eggs, broke free from my grip and flew downhill into the parking lot at warp speed. So there I was, basically hanging from the door of the farmer’s market with my daughter on my hip, fighting to break free so I could chase after a stroller filled with pickles, cravings, and protest. I’m sure the view of this from the inside the market, sans sound, was just glorious.
My conversation with myself at this point went as follows:
THOUGHT #1: Thank God Penelope is in your arms and not the stroller! PHEW!!
THOUGHT #2: The pickles!!! The fucking pickles!!! NOOOO!!
THOUGHT #3: You can never ever ever come back here again. Like EVER.
Never in my life have I felt so totally, obviously, pregnant.
“Help! Help!” I yelled. A nearby woman stopped my stroller and laughed at me. “Tough day?” she said, as she wheeled the stroller back to me and helped unhook me from the door. I half-smiled, thanked her, and made my way to the car as fast as I could. I got P in her car seat, emptied the goodies from the stroller, and pulled up on the lever to fold the stroller in half. Phew! I’ve never been so relieved to put the stroller away, and I – wait – what was that crack?! That crack, my friends, was the sound of the 2 dozen eggs I forgot to take off the stroller hook, collapsing right along with the weight of the stroller and my last shred of dignity. Fantastic.
Once we got home, and calmed down from the chaos, me and my girl shared a celebratory pickle together in the kitchen as I held her on my hip. I had to laugh at myself for that whole episode. As we took turns biting, I thought, how I love the sound of her crunching! She looked up at me, her face just inches from mine, almost close enough for her eyes to go a little crossed. She studied my face as I crunched away. Then, as if to say, “SHHH!” she raised her little hand and placed it over my mouth.