Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Friends are Better than Cheetos

By Emilee Donehoo

“How are you today?” chirped the cashier at the grocery store.

Panic settled into my stomach. My husband has been gone for far too long, and I had been with the kids around the clock because Presidents’ Day is for some reason “Presidents’ Six Day Weekend,” my grandma just died, I’m hormonal, and interacting with adult humans hasn’t happened in a while. Inside my head, a conversation erupted. 

She’s asking how you are, Em. How are you?

Yes, she’s asking, but she doesn’t want the real answer because the real answer is that I’m frustrated and lonely and exhausted from walking through the grocery store with three kids who were hitting each other and tripping over each other and whipping their coats at each other and playing “hot lava” with the different colored tiles on the floor and not paying attention to all of the other people who were just trying to get by so they could get their groceries and get on with their lives while I tried to buy food without gluten, dairy, coconut, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, and chickpeas. I can’t just say, “Oh. I’m fine.” because I’m not fine, and I’m not a liar but I’m not about to tell all of my problems to the grocery store clerk because then I’ll be the crazy lady crying in the grocery store and gosh, it seems like I cry a lot when the grocery store check-out lady asks me how I am… 

It has been too long since anyone said words. She is staring at you. Say SOMETHING!

“Oh, I am how you are while grocery shopping with three kids, you know...” I finally answer.

She clearly did not know. She smiled in response and stopped asking me questions. 

This isn’t the first time I have had or almost 

had an emotional breakdown in the grocery store. 

One time when Danny was a newborn and had just gotten shots, a lady stopped to say how beautiful he was. I cried in that conversation. Then the time the kids and I all had a tummy bug and I took three sick kids around in a cart to buy ginger ale, saltines, and chicken soup. An older lady told me to “Enjoy every minute.” I smiled and walked away before angry tears and angry words spilled out of me.

Oh, and the time I was pregnant and some sensitive soul said, “Wow!  You’re huge!  How much longer do you have?  You’re about to pop.” And that other time when the super nice check-out lady said, “Kids are hard. You’re doing such a great job with them.”

As I collected my children from the penny horsey ride, I asked myself, Why are you always having weird emotional run-ins at the grocery store?

The answer came, Uh, Em? When you’re a mom, sometimes the check-out lady at the grocery store is the only person who ever asks you how you are.

Oh. That’s sad.

Yes, it is, Em.

We should do something about that!

Yes, we should. 

So I decided to do something. 

I went home and ate a bunch of Cheetos and ice cream while I binge-watched This Is Us and cried. 

It was not a great decision.  

And it didn’t do anything to fix my loneliness. So I texted my friend. “Do not binge-watch This Is Us after your grandma dies and you’re hormonal and your husband has been on work trips for most of the month.” 

Condolence texting ensued. Friend asked how I was. I asked how she was. 

Turns out, she had been needing a friend too. Go figure.

We exchanged prayers and thoughtful words. Actual plans for coffee… like with a date, a place, and a time were made. We didn't have any pretending or competitiveness or anything icky. Why didn't I call a friend sooner? 

I have so many awesome friends, but I forget to text them or I assume they were too busy or bogged down with their tiny people who are covering them in bodily fluids to want to hang out with me and my tiny humans. And I’m guessing that they wrongly think the same. Because I have friends who show up. I have friends who, when I say, “I have this crazy dream that I want to do this thing…”

They say, “Cool!  I’ll do it with you!” I forget how amazing my friends are sometimes. Maybe you do too? Maybe today is a great day to remember. Maybe today is a great day to text a friend and make actual plans with a date and a time and a place to reconnect and be actual humans. 

Maybe today is a great day to ask God to help us not do this crazy thing all alone. 

Because really… God and friends are way better company than Cheetos and ice cream. 

Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time. Read more of her writing here.

1 comment:

  1. Love this Emily! Such a great reminder to reach out! We all need our tribes!!