Despite my being in the middle of working 2 - 12 hour night shifts, I had errands to run in another city. OK, I'll confess it, I had to re certify my baby for WIC. Now that you know, I am "one of those" women........., I will spin for you the tale of the Guilty Giant Cheesy Puff Ball Astroids from Outer Space.
I've almost got it all figured out when it comes to being thrifty. My husband drops me off at "Porgies" the local consignment center. There I find out what my credit from selling clothes is and I shop for what the family might be in need of. After Porgies, I walk myself, my baby and my 6 year old over to McDonald's where I discovered that they both can get a free "kiddie cone". I really don't need a whole "super sized" ice cream cone and sharing Moonbeams cone with her is enough for a sweet snack. So consignment store shopping becomes free and so does an ice cream cone at McDonald's. Just call me white trash. Yes, I am learning, though at the speed of a herd of turtles.
After I successfully completed todays clothing and snack mission, I moved on to the grocery store. Since the budget was zero today, I diligently calculated my purchases. Sale fruit, sale bread, etc.. Cashing in WIC vouchers is usually quite traumatic for me. No matter how many times I read the print, I inevitably get it wrong. Me and probably 90% of the other mothers who participate in the program. I am always feeling a little self conscious walking down the grocery store aisles with my green packet. I am just bound to run into some medical person I know, so I am trying to stealthily peek into my purse at the list. People most likely wonder what it is that I am so fixated on in there.
Then to complicate matters further, Cat man wonders why "chocolate happy bombs" aren't on the allowed WIC cereal choices. Then the guilt sets in. I didn't buy him french fries at McDonald's. I'm not going to be home to cook him a big dinner. What kind of a mother am I anyway? I'm gone this week for 2 whole nights. As if on cue, the little child inside of my brain rehearses to me that I am a lousy mother and that my children will most likely suffer permanent emotional scarring due to my picking up this extra shift. No french fries, no $4 a box chocolate happy bombs. OK, so I will make it up with some other kind of snack. I suppose every working woman feels some kind of guilt for her absence from her children. Well I do anyway. I'm only gone once a week (twice at the most), but the guilt is always there. In an attempt to appease my guilt, I let Cat man pick out some of the sale chips which happened to be giant cheesy puff balls. They looked quite exciting to him and it seemed to appease my guilt at the moment, just a tad.
Despite my whole hearted efforts to get the WIC right, once I was up in front with a line behind me, they had to send me back to exchange my milk. This was nothing compared to the time that the lady got confused and began arguing with me over beans and other oddities. She had accidentally rang up some of the vouchers forgetting to add everything in. By the time she got to the end, there was still a little pile of grocries so she tried to make me buy what was left over. Since I didn't particularly want to buy the beans, she gave me a dollar out of her pocket telling me "its easier that way". By then a line was forming and I was mortified for the people watching. She hadn't found a price on something I was buying either and so she had also sent a bag boy to go check. Since she wanted to get rid of me after that she told me that he probably couldn't find a price and that I would have to go without the item. Do you ever notice that you are treated differently when you are perceived to be in the "low income low intelligence" class?
Any way, today I had to exchange all of my milk. Cat man walked out of the store with cheesy puff balls the size of asteroids which consequently were so big that they could not fit into his mouth. Once in the car, he opened the atomic snack only to rip the bag from top to bottom hurling the guilty giant cheesy puff balls all over himself and his baby sister. I tried balancing what was left on pieces of the bag, but wound up dropping more on the babies head. By this time, we were driving along on our way to another city to drop me off at work. Orange residue covered all three of us and it dawned on me that buying this snack for him had not done him any favors. On a very small scale it was like the work-a-holic parents who buys their kid a new fast sports car. The snack had made a disaster. I asked him later "did you enjoy your snack?" Brows furrowed, he said "not as much as I thought I would". He would have been just as happy with something healthy and less guilt pacifying on my part.
After nursing the baby one last time and attempting to wipe more cheesy powder residue off myself, I kissed the kids good bye and strolled across the hospital walkway. There's just something amusing to me about living like this. One hour I am deemed competent to manage a busy hospital floor or emergency room. The next, I can't manage to correctly interpret my WIC vouchers. Its a wonderful life.