October 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm , by Louise Sloan
If you want to know what it’s really like to be a regular mom in Manhattan, watch Uma Thurman’s character go about her daily errands in the film Motherhood, which opens Friday (October 23). It will show you why grocery shopping in New York City has become a religious experience for me.
Famous writer and fellow single mom Anne Lamott has said that the two best prayers she knows are “Help me, help me, help me” and “thank you, thank you, thank you.” I say these prayers pretty much every time I leave the supermarket.
I usually go in with some reasonable list of things: milk, bread, yogurt, garbage bags. I remind myself that it’s past the home-delivery cutoff time so I need to be selective. But then I realize that my son and I have to actually eat every day, and I won’t have time to shop until the weekend, so the cart gets full and I end up leaving with eight or nine bags, all of which seem to contain cans of buckshot or whole watermelons.
In the suburbs, this isn’t a problem. You wheel the cart out to the car, then you pull the car up next to the back door and make a couple trips into the kitchen, no sweat.
In the city, you load yourself down, suck it up and start walking. In my case, a mere three blocks to my building (in my old ’hood it was eight blocks), and then up 3 flights of stairs. With 40 pounds of groceries and a three-year-old who may or may not be behaving. Sometimes I have to put all eight or nine bags in one hand and drag or carry him with the other. These are my most prayerful times.
I do think, “help me, help me, help me,” but since I’m pretty sure I’m on my own on the sidewalk there, I mostly try the gratitude prayer. As the bag handles cut deep red grooves into my hands, my fingers start to turn white, my biceps burn and my tantrum-throwing son’s limbs flail against me, I tell myself, “You are strong! You are healthy! You have legs! You can walk! What a wonderful thing!”
I also try to redirect my focus from my pain to the wonder of God’s creation: “Hey, check out that full moon tonight! Wow, the leaves are really starting to turn!” And when it’s really bad, I start listing the other blessed things about the situation: “I have a home! I have money for groceries! We can eat!” The exclamation point is key, here.
In the usual Hollywood version of the Big Apple, every one of us lives in a $5 million apartment and there are no groceries to schlep—we all just wander around cobblestoned streets in our Manolos. So I loved seeing a movie star loading the handlebars of her beat-up bike with shopping bags. Perhaps my favorite scene was the one in which Uma’s character, a harried mommy blogger, takes her arthritic, semi-incontinent dog out, which involves putting her 30-pound toddler in a backpack and carrying the mutt and the kid down five flights of stairs. Now, that’s New York!
Tell me, what are the special challenges of life where you live?
DO GOOD alert: For the first two weeks of the film’s opening, for every Motherhood ticket purchased on Fandango.com, $1 will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which works towards a cure for breast cancer.
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