Thursday, June 12, 2014

Overheard at Whole Foods

On Wednesday morning, I drove to Whole Foods, parked behind the store, walked to our lovely, local bike trail entrance and headed out for my four-days-a-week-six-mile-run.  Typically, I can do this directly from my house, but the trail is currently under construction at my neighborhood access point. Whole Foods is only a mile from my house, and I certainly don't mind popping in for a smoothie or some hot tea after my run. In fact, a Whole Foods breakfast is a regular occurrence in my life.  Robert and I have a date there every Monday morning after our run.  (Or I should say, after my run and his recumbant bike workout at Planet Fitness now that his back is giving him so much trouble.) It's where we sort out all of the world's problems, and have our weekly how-are-we-going-to-survive-this-week's-schedule huddle.  I always look forward to my organic kale smoothie or egg and veggie scramble, to seeing just how much Robert's plate will cost this week (you pay by weight), and starting the week by checking in with each other like this.

This particular Monday, though, we were in Baltimore for a pastors' conference, so my run was along the "promenade" of Baltimore Harbor (beautiful!), Robert's bike workout was in our quaint hotel's rec room, and our continental, but fresh and beautiful breakfast was included in the price of our stay.  We returned late Tuesday night, so before returning the rental car, I set out for Wednesday's morning run by myself (Robert at physical therapy. Sigh...), and then ran into the store for hot tea and cold water afterward.
MANY years ago at the Whole Foods flagship store (a.k.a. Crunchy Disney World) in Austin.
Everyone out of diapers by then!

As I was checking out, I heard the young woman bagging my small order of groceries saying something like this to the male cashier:

"I just feel so sorry for them.  They miss out on so many important things."

She was seriously troubled, and there was hint of disdain in her voice. I wondered at first if she was talking about people who have to stock the groceries at night, or clean the store after hours.  Maybe she wished they could have the pleasure of people watching like her (always a fun pastime at Whole Foods), or interacting with customers on a more intimate level.  But knowing my context (and the ever-increasing cultural worldview), I had a sneaking suspicion she was talking about "stay-at-home" mothers. When she made these next statements, I knew my suspicions were correct.

"I mean, changing diapers all day is just so awful.  So many women are wasting their time with dirty diapers all day.  I could not do that.  I don't ever want to do that."

I was so tempted to say something.  It's so funny (and often frustrating) the notions of a younger generation (though admittedly, I belonged to it at one time, and some would say I still do), and I was sure I could enlighten her with my own "stay-at-home" experience, but I thought it best to practice keeping my mouth shut and listen to how the young male cashier might respond.  What he said was great.  It was a testimony to masculine logic, masculine courage, and masculine practical wisdom, which is so very refreshing to me and alternatively maddening at times. Not that females aren't logical, of course, but I do think we tend to be more easily deceived by our emotions and cultural "notions" and when this happens our logic weakens. Or maybe that's just me. Anyway, I wanted to hug him when he said this:

"You know, changing diapers is just straight up a parenting responsibility."

(And QUITE organic, I might add!)

That was SO much better than my snarky, "Ummmm, good thing your mom didn't feel that way about you!"  or "I know!  Babies are just SUCH a nuisance!  Why would anyone choose to do that anymore?  So menial.  So much drudgery. Such a waste of an intelligent adult woman's skill and competence! Ridiculous use of valuable time!" or "Yeah, I heard they are doing research and development for a diaper-changing robots which will end all need for ever having to touch your own child!  It's amazing!  They are even programming it to feed and burp the infant.  As an upgrade, it will read books, tuck in at night, and give hugs and kisses. Revolutionary!"

Yes, sometimes it's better to keep your mouth shut and let the man speak, which I fear is happening less and less these days. I mean, I don't think this female grocery bagger would have said that a woman giving affection to a baby was wasteful, but like the man said ~ the "demeaning" stuff is part of a package deal called "raising human beings." I was glad to hear that at least he was up for the task, which I fear is happening more and more these days.  The men value the crucial, but tedious investment; the women have been taught not to, and statistics say they often live to regret it.

I wondered if this woman remembered how a baby gets fed.  (Again, very organic!) Talk about a year or so of sleep-deprived slavery.  And that's if you only have one child. I guess she thinks a career in bagging groceries is a no-brainer when compared to the career of nurturing human life. (Don't get me wrong. I happen to value both careers, but in my book kids trump brown paper bags when there's the option, and they are always more "important" ~ and organic to boot!

As I walked out of the store, having smiled at them and maintained my silence, I lamented the ever-increasing (yet not quite prevailing) negative attitude toward motherhood and then praised the Lord for the privilege of being a mom.  I thought about the many, many skills I have acquired in the process like event planning, semi-gourmet gluten free cooking, photography, business administration, phonics instruction, psychological and biblical counseling, long range planning, artist, interior decorating, war-time strategist, time management coach, care package design, financial consultation, Latin grammar instruction, nursing, fashion consultation, bow tie tying, hairstyling and more. Too bad they don't transfer well to a professional resume. My diaper changing days are long gone, but they were replaced by endless amounts of the tedious and sacrificial tasks that make up everyday family life ~ grocery shopping, meal planning and preparing, baseball game attending, dance, piano, and gymnastics chauffeuring, life skill training, out loud novel reading, ongoing correction and training, clothes shopping, toilet, sink, and floor cleaning, and dishwashing, dishwashing, dishwashing...

I have been invaluably shaped and developed by what started as diaper changing. Please don't feel sorry for me. I have a PhD in human nature and nurturing.  Believe me when I say I'm not missing anything "important" and certainly nothing organic.

(And if you are still not convinced that Whole Foods is a very interesting place to interact with people, check out this old post.)


Anonymous said...

Mel, Aww. Smiling and going 'amen' (with a little emphasis on the men part of that word) at your post. Izzy

Anonymous said...

Love it, Mel. Love you, too. K&J

Melanie said...

Thanks, Izzy! ;-)

Love you, K&J