For the last six years, Dwayne and I have resisted the urge to get a Costco membership. While our friends have found it doable even helpful in the financial department, and while Dwayne has always liked the kosher hot dogs for a $1.25, we refused to buy into the "$200 club."
The diapers did it. 20 cents a diaper for the Kirkland brand. Outside of clothe diapers, you'll not find a cheaper brand.
The first time I went into Costco with my little blue and white card, I went with my guard up and Dwayne's coaching ringing in my ears. I was there to buy only the cheapest things - diapers and wet wipes. But before long I was moseying down the meat aisle, then the produce aisle, then the diary aisle. I glanced in the refrigerated section and immediately grabbed my phone.
"Dwayne!" I squawked, "They've got two gallons of whole milk for $4.29." Further down I found another outrageous deal on cheese.
I wheeled my cart up to the checkout with my diapers, cheese, and whole milk. Noelle sat in the front of the cart fidgeting and begging to be let down. In front of us, a mother with her two girls fluttered around the conveyor belt. She wore a pink sweatshirt with navy blue jogging pants. Her hair was neatly curled. Both her girls wandered around troubling the groceries and whispering to one another. They were around nine and twelve.
I glanced at all the food the woman was buying. She had a slat of canned beans, a massive package of paper towels. Twelve apples jiggled in their plastic container. A huge bag of prepared salad poked it's head above the mounds of food.
"Two-hundred and seventy-three dollars" the teller said. The mom shooed her girls away and pulled out her purse.
Before having Noelle, I would have looked at her groceries and wondered, "Why the excess? Why do you need so much?" But in that moment, watching the mom push her mountain of food off to the car, I felt total sympathy.
I discovered something that day. Going to Costco soothes a mother's nagging fear - that she won't have enough to care for her family. I never expected this fear. It came lurking and crawling out of the confusion and exhaustion of having a baby.
It never dawned on me that as a mother, feeding my baby would touch a primordial nerve. I've written about this drive to nourish before. Beginning with breastfeeding, I was tortured by the fear that Noelle wasn't getting enough from me.
This fear settled over the last fifteen months, and sunk into the lower levels of my conscience. Now it translates in to all areas of motherhood. Because I work, I'm afraid Noelle doesn't get enough attention, enough intellectual stimulation. Because I live in a new town where I don't know very many mothers, I'm afraid Noelle doesn't get enough socialization. I'm afraid I'm not disciplining her enough, or guiding her enough. You name an area of child development, and there's a nasty demon to match it, sitting on my shoulder.
Enough enough enough. This is the theme of my anxiety.
So when a thing like Costco comes along and offers moms twenty cans of soup that will last two months, or ten pounds of cheese that will last six months, it's no wonder they show up in all their sweat pants glory and pay. You see, when I put those two gallons of milk in my fridge, when I slid the loaf of cheese away, I felt the ease of security ripple down my body.
Somewhere, the tiny anxious mother inside of me wrung her hands a little less and said, "Ah, that's enough."