To Do: Feed Kid, Join Cult, Change Diapers

March 18, 2010

in Cheap Expectations, Running In Place

I think I’ve accidentally joined a Cult.

It started off innocently enough.  Doesn’t it always?  I mean, really – how often do you actually hear someone start off their their daily to-do list with “Fold Laundry, Pay Bills, Join Cult, Don’t Forget to pick up OJ”?  Granted, my to-do list started off with “Feed kid.  Bathe kid.  Feed kid.  Be more Active.  Feed kid.”  That’s where it all started.  Not the feedings (although I do sometimes feel like I’ve joined a cult for 2 featuring hourly offerings).  But with the bright idea that I should be more active.  Get out of the house.  Find a reason to put pants on.

But I live in the land of perpetual ice & snow.  So the local hiking trails (ie. sidewalks – hiking requires actual hills, and I live in the middle of midwest America, which does not believe in hills) won’t be accessible until August.  Maybe.

But I live right next to a mall.  Literally – Sears is my neighbor.  Why not stroll over for a visit?  After the first few times, I even learned to leave my wallet at home.  (In my defense, we really did need those wooden spoons…and fifth spatula specifically for baking cookies…and the second baster was a good idea at the time…)

So every afternoon, I strap my 19lb 3mo. old (did I mention the hourly feedings?) and head over to the mall for a long stroll around Victoria’s Secret to visit all the pretty bras my boobs will never ever fit into again.

After the first week, I started noticing some of the same people walking around the mall as well.  Some are obviously out for a quiet stroll, others may or may not be secretly retired/layed-off, and others are VERY SERIOUS WALKERS.

First, there are the OLD people.  I don’t just mean the grandparents – this couple could be grandparents to my grandparents.  And they were Lapping me.  Without a Scooter.  Literally – I think for every turn around the mall I made, they made at least two.  Granted, by the end of the hour walking arm in arm had turned into an excuse for holding each other up.  But in that hour they probably covered more ground than I do most days.

Then there’s the mother of twins.  She has two of the most adorable boys?girls?  (I know, I know – as a mother of a newborn, I should have some inherent ability to instantly tell a baby’s gender.  But they all look the same!  Its like my first year living in Korea and trying to tell the Koreans from the other visiting Asians!  Note:if you came here looking for some PC humor, please stop reading, you’ll only become more dissapointed)  She pushes them half-way around the mall in the most heavy-duty side-by-side double stroller I have ever seen.  This must have been described as the HUMVEE of strollers in the catalog.  Every half-lap, without fail, she stops.  Wherever she is, no pulling over to the side (although with a stroller that heavy, I can’t really blame her), and runs around to the front to wipe drool/adjust kids/and take a picture.  Seriously.  Every time.  By the end of a day’s walk, she probably has 20 pictures of her kids.  With the exact same expression.  When these kids grow up, they’re going to think they actually lived outside of Macy’s.

And then there’s the the Military Man.  I (briefly) worked (waaaay too early) at the mall stocking merchandise before the stores opened.  And he was Always there, walking the mall from the minute it opened, in full military fatigues.  Apparently, he never leaves.  Because he’s still there every afternoon when we take our walk.  He walks not just around the mall, but also through each and every store.  An older, retired military man in full uniform casually strolling with his hands laced behind his back through Spencer’s.  And Victoria’s Secret.  And the Kitchen Store.  It’s Awesome.

And they are all there.  Every day.  Sidestepping the teens playing hooky, the men looking desperately for a last-minute birthday/anniversary/Ooops present, and the shoppers-on-a-mission.  But in my mind, they were always “Them, The Mall Walkers.”

And then I met Gregory.  He’s one of those dedicatead sale’s men who stand guard over their kiosks in the middle of the mall, flagging down anyone who accidentally meets their eye for a sales pitch, but more just for conversation.  He told me once that he enjoys watching us all go by.

That’s right.

US.

Walking briskly through the groups walking in one long horizontal line across the entire walkway, wearing my ratty tennis shoes and capri work-out pants, with my baby strapped to my front and his pacifier dangling from its clip on my collar – 

I’ve become one of them.

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