I remember my very first Black Friday as a mom.
One of our kids was sick, so we weren’t going to be traveling over Thanksgiving, which was our usual routine. A local store was having a huge sale, and I figured, why not? I could get myself up way before everyone else under my roof realized I was gone with my checklist and coupons, easy peasy! I could save so much money! I mean, how bad could it possibly be?
By 5 a.m. the store was already packed with cranky deal-chasers, including me. The thermostat was set somewhere around Death Valley — only less humid. And the music was BLARING holiday cheer so loudly it burned the lyrics to “Santa, Baby” onto my soul like a creepily sexy tattoo. Despite always being a very quick shopper, time seemed to move at a slower pace than normal in that vortex of tinsel and discounted cartoon pajamas.
Halfway through the trip I found myself mentally cursing out yet another person who didn’t know how to operate a friggin’ shopping cart, and it hit me: People around me had their kids with them. I stopped. I stared. I blinked a lot (this was probably a sign of shock or maybe despair on their behalf). It caused me physical pain to imagine slogging through that experience with my then-2 and 4-year-old kids, so I thanked my lucky stars I was flying solo for the first time in years, paid about $200 for $1,000 worth of underappreciated gifts, ran back home to make sweet, sweet love to my coffee pot, and considered all lessons the moms there that day were learning.
1. The only way to get your kids to come Black Friday shopping with you is to make it seem like it will be a super fun adventure.
2. It will absolutely NOT be a super fun adventure.
3. There is a 0 percent chance of any of you leaving the house that morning in anything other than the pajamas you slept in.
4. Instead of a little purse, you will bring a backpack of donuts, bribes, and a thermos of coffee.
5. And maybe something for the kids.
6. Upon arrival, you will immediately secure your kids in the shopping cart to keep them from getting lost in the crowded store.
7. Within 15 minutes, you’ll have pulled them out, filled the cart with crap, and have them pushing their own carts behind you like a very expensive and whiny train.
8. Two minutes after that, they will start to ask, “Are you done yet?”
9. At least four displays will be knocked over by your offspring.
10. Those extra-discount coupons you packed? Your kids will eat them, lose them, or make paper airplanes out of them.
11. Your kids will need to pee three times each, minimum.
12. Your slowest pooper will also need to poop. No, not while you’re in the bathroom already. Don’t be ridiculous.
13. You are never stealthier than when trying to get Black Friday deals on your kids’ holiday wish list toys when they are right next to you. James Bond ain’t got nuthin’ on you, girl!
14. There’s a good chance you will use your pint-sized assistants to sneak between peoples’ legs to grab that last much-needed, 80 percent-off video game from the shelf before someone else sees it.
15. Your kids will hear you mutter many, many terrible things under your breath.
16. While you wait in line to check out, your kids will let you know they think the line is moving slowly no less than 47 bajillion times.
17. Once you’re at the register, you will literally throw candy like a chipper elf atop a parade float in order to distract your kids from the fact that “Santa” is getting their gifts for them RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR FACES.
18. One shopping cart’s worth of items once bagged up will be the size of two Swagger Wagons.
19. It will take a Tetris champion’s skill set to get all that crap into your car without crushing your children. At those prices, it’s a risk you’re willing to take.
20. It will take promises of ice cream for Second Breakfast (and possibly some duct tape) to prevent your kids from tearing into those bags while you drive home during the sunrise.
21. You will think, ‘This was all a very, very, very, very, very bad idea’ after you’re done…and then do it all again next year.
More Mom Confessions:
- I Told the Truth About Santa (& I Regret It)
- 21 Things Only Moms Who Have Been Pregnant in Winter Know
- To My Friends: I’ll Be Back in 5 Years or So
Graphic: Kim Bongiorno