The fridge and pantry were sparse, Keller was asking daily when we would “go to the store,” and I knew that it was time to (giant sigh) plan dinners.  It sounds like such a simple job: get food to feed the family.  But in my depressed and anxious mind, very few things are simple.

This is what I go through, mentally and physically, described to the best of my ability.

  • Find the ads. I’ve set aside the weekly ads from Smith’s, Bowman’s, Macey’s, and Fresh Market. I don’t go to all of those stores, but I have to check, just to be sure.
  • Go through each one carefully.
  • ‘I think that’s a low price, but I don’t really know.  Maybe I should be writing down prices for that item each week to compare.’
  • ‘What if it ends up being cheaper next week? Then I’ve wasted our money.’
  • Circle the things I will buy, then transfer to a paper, make sure to include the price so I’ll know if I find a better deal when I’m at another store.
  • Next ad, one of the kids left a little yogurt on the table and it’s on the paper.
  • Stress, tension.
  • ‘I have to do this just right.  This is my responsibility.  Can I handle taking the kids with me to the store?’
  • My shoulders are up to my ears and my jaw is hurting from being clenched.
  • Kids need me, set it all aside.
  • Fast forward.  Go through coupons.  I’m not a crazy coupon-er, but I do cut out stuff that I know we will buy.
  • ‘Which of these applies to this week?  Are those expired yet?  Is it even enough of a discount to bring?  I should probably try to find where that item is on sale, so the savings will be bigger.’
  • Take a bunch of deep breaths.
  • Smith’s app.  There are digital coupons to add to my rewards card.  Grocery IQ app, send some more coupons to my printer.
  • ‘I’ve been looking at my phone too long.  I said I’d try to be better at that.’
  • I should plan dinners, like I normally do, paying attention to what protein is on sale this week, accounting for what we already have so we can buy less.  But I don’t have the energy today.  I’m hating this already.
  • ‘Are there things we are out of? I’m sure there’s something we forgot to write down.  If we are out of something, it will be my fault.’
  • Decided I can’t bring the kids with me.  I will not survive the anxiety. Babysitter.
  • Didn’t compile a comprehensive list.  Or organize it by the layout of the store.  So I won’t be as efficient and might take too long.  I’ll have to pay the babysitter more. I am carrying a pile of coupons and two messy sheets of paper.
  • Fast forward.  Shopping.
  • I’m at Bowman’s, geared up and thinking positive thoughts.
  • How much of each thing should I buy?  Is it worth stocking up on this good price, or will I be spending too much?  If we run out of money, it will be on me.
  • Worrying about my appearance: hair, clothes, weight.
  • Feeling self conscious as younger folks eye my heavy load of groceries.
  • Ring it all up, worry about the dollar amount.
  • Feel embarrassed as the bagger helps me load my car.  Try to act confident as I thank him.
  • Off to Smith’s.  Repeat several of the above steps.
  • Make sure to get out rewards card and debit card so the checker won’t have to wait on me.
  • Deep breaths again.
  • Load up the car outside and think of how I will have to bring it all into the house when I get there.  Hopefully nothing melted from Bowman’s….

Probably more than you wanted to hear.  You’re likely getting ready to give me advice like, “Blah blah blah would be easier,” or “You’re making this more complicated than it needs to be.”  (Another big sigh.) I know that I’m not doing things “right,” and I know that the way I obsess isn’t “healthy” or “normal.”  But guys, this is the way my messed up brain does things.

It comes from a fear of mistakes.  From a belief that doing things subpar may result in earth shattering consequences, like disappointing someone, or adding another notch to my failure stick—-it’s not logical, it’s instinct.  And at least now (after lots of therapy and reflection and prayer) I can see it for what it is.  We’re not yet to the phase where I can change it.

I don’t have a tidy way to wrap this post up.  I just needed to get it out.  I walk the isles of a grocery store with an immense weight threatening to crush me, all the while knowing that I shouldn’t be that way.

But this afternoon, on the way home from Smith’s, I talked to myself in the van.  ”You should not feel bad for spending that money.  You are feeding your family, and you did your best.  You did a great job; you can be proud. You did it.  You are feeding your family.”



About ambrwaves

I'm a mom of four young kiddos, and basically I just figure things out as I go.
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