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The Trip to Costco That Made Me Cry

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Last week, with my mom around to help me out at home, I decided to take advantage and drive over to Costco to stock up on some much-needed potato chips supplies. I had to time my outing perfectly so as not to leave my mother with two screaming newborns on her hands, so the moment I finished changing and feeding them, I grabbed my toddler and immediately jumped into the car. Taking my son along would undoubtedly slow things down, and I only had a short window of time before my girls would need to eat again (ah, the joys of nursing twins). But there’s a reason I chose to bring him, and in hindsight, I’m thankful I did.

My 3-year-old loves Costco–as in, he’d pass up a trip to Toys R Us any day of the week for a chance to walk those massive warehouse aisles, taking in his surroundings while sampling freebies. Now as anyone who frequents Costco knows, weekday food distribution can be very hit or miss. Sometimes they’ll have so many food samples on hand it’s enough to skip your next meal; but other times, you’ll be lucky to snag a shot-sized cup of Vitamin Water in the very back corner.

Knowing how much my son loves his Costco treats, whenever I bring him with me, I come prepared, which means stuffing my purse with random food items in case I need to compensate. And unless the selection is really impressive, I make a point of treating my son to something from the Costco café–usually a frozen yogurt, or some other dessert to be snagged at the very reasonable price point of $1.35 plus tax.

READ: I Fed My Kid Only Candy For a Day & This is What Happened

Last week’s outing got off to a good start when we started walking the aisles and saw plenty of “food ladies,” as my son likes to call them, setting up shop. Before long, my son was happily stuffing his face with everything from granola to smoked salmon dip. I, meanwhile, was busy pulling items off shelves and doing my best to keep a close eye on both the time and my cell phone. I stocked up on quinoa, replenished my paper towel supply, and scored a sweet deal on some fresh fruits and veggies. I was just about ready to barrel toward the checkout area when my son asked, “Can we find another food lady?”

“One more,” I told him, “since we already visited so many.”

“A lot more,” he insisted, “because there are so many food ladies today, and I love the food ladies.”

I shook my head and sighed. “Sorry honey, but we don’t have time.”

And that’s when I saw it–the look of disappointment in my 3-year-old’s eyes. It was a look I’d been anticipating and maybe even ignoring for weeks, and one that instantly broke my heart. I know lots of young children act out when new siblings enter the picture, and since I was introducing twins to the mix, I figured it wouldn’t be long before my son started insisting that I send the babies back.

READ: No Offense, but Don’t Touch My Babies. 

But that never happened. Instead, he embraced his new sisters from the start, and if anything has gone out of his way to be helpful, or as helpful as a 3-year-old can be. For the past seven weeks, he’s sat there waiting for me patiently as I spent hours on end nursing the babies. He’s endured crying and screaming and fussy babies in my arms during what should otherwise have been his one-on-one story time with his mommy. He’s been tolerant, and caring, and sweet, and so many other things I never thought to expect from a 3-year-old. But he’s been missing his mother, and I’ve been missing him.

So when I saw that look in my son’s eyes that morning at Costco, I made a decision. I called my mom and told her that if need be, there was some formula in the pantry she could use in a pinch. And then I proceeded to take my son for another round up and down the aisles, stopping at each station to let him sample whatever he pleased. After that, we hit up the food court, where we shared a frozen yogurt and reviewed the various items we’d seen along the way. And when it was time to leave, I let him stop to say goodbye to the “door lady,” who rewarded his sweet smile with an extra smiley face on our receipt.

READ: The 5 Types of People You’ll Meet When at the Grocery Store with Kids

I arrived home to find the babies sleeping soundly, as they had been since I left. It turns out I wasn’t even late for their feeding, though I knew it would only be minutes before they started stirring. So I called my son over, gave him a hug, and thanked him for a very fun outing.

“Can we go back to Costco soon?” he asked earnestly as I helped him settle in with some puzzles and toys.

“Absolutely,” I told him.

“And are we going to bring the babies?” he asked in response.

“Maybe one day,” I told him, fighting back tears. “But for now, it’s just going to be you and me.”

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