Oops. I did it again.
I arrived home from my daily walk to Target (hooray for urban living and strollers that act as minivans!) and as I unloaded my daughter from the stroller, I noticed my sister's birthday card hiding in the bottom of the basket.
I am the mother of two, a churchgoing gal, and a thief.
I truly never meant for it to happen. One minute, I'm searching the aisles for the perfect granola bar (not too crumbly, no nuts, low sugar, not too pricey, not too much chocolate for little hands to wipe on the couch), and the next, I've shoved so many items under the stroller that it is all but certainly over the recommended weight limit. I'd stroll the aisles for hours and hours, except, well, I have a baby who annoyingly needs to eat on a regular basis. So selfish of her. Thus, my cue to leave is generally baby hunger/anger/tears/poop, or a combination of all four. As I frantically race to the checkout line and dump my purchases on the conveyor belt, I don't always notice a stray greeting card. Or a pack of gum. Or the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.
Shopping used to be thrilling. I never understood why people bought things online because I loved to see them in person — to feel them, to smell them, to try them on in a variety of sizes. The mall was my friend. I liked to shop, and I was good at it. I hated shopping with friends because it really held me back. I couldn't explore and make decisions the same way I could when I was alone and wandering at my own pace.
Now I have a permanent shopping buddy who really messes up my process. And there's no way I can get rid of her.
"Awwwww, that's so sweet," a grandmother-type stops to tell me as I speedwalk out of the store, red-faced and sweating. "I just love the sound of a newborn baby's cry."
What I want to say is, "Are you kidding me, lady? That sound is like nails on a chalkboard. Like a fork scraping a plate. I'D HEAR IT IN MY NIGHTMARES EXCEPT I DON'T GET ENOUGH SLEEP TO HAVE NIGHTMARES."
But what I say is, "You're so right. Hahahahaaahaaawaaaahhh." I turn away quickly, using my unwashed, unbrushed hair as a shield so she doesn't realize that my nervous laughter turned into a choking sob.
Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
To be fair, I don't always take things that I haven't paid for. Also, I have paid for many an item that I've left behind. Picture the full stroller basket, the screaming baby, and the panic, except that this time, I foolishly went through the self-checkout line and left behind the grapes I so carefully weighed on the scale. Or the eggs that I placed gingerly atop the counter. Or the ridiculously expensive, individually wrapped, non-GMO organic teething crackers that I beeped across the scanner ... and then set down "for just a second" because I realized my wallet was buried at the very bottom of the stroller basket, underneath the massive pile that accumulated because I skipped using disposable plastic shopping bags in order to single-handedly save the planet for my children and my children's children. (Also, you can shove way more stuff in the stroller basket when you don't bag it.)
Yes, having a baby was the beginning of my moral decline. I mean, I don't want to blame my failings on my children. But I can't exactly not blame it on them either. In my pre-baby state, I was a rule-follower almost to a fault. I cut one class (literally!) in college and felt badly about it for a decade. I could probably count on one hand the number of Sunday Masses I missed. Which is why I was absolutely mortified to realize that I had unintentionally shoplifted for the first time and even more flummoxed that I wasn't planning to do anything about it. Thou shalt not steal. It said that right on Moses' stone tablets. Moses managed to follow that rule — and he had two kids, too. Though I suppose he did steal all of the Israelites out of Egypt. So there's that. And that seems way more serious than forgetting to pay for a random $5.99 card, right?
By the time I find that gosh darn birthday card in the bottom of the stroller, I'm already at home. A full 15-minute walk from the store. And only five minutes late for a scheduled feeding for a baby who has been screaming in hunger the entire walk home. There's no way I'm taking the time to go back to Target right away. And I would never remember to bring the card on my next visit, nor would I have the patience to wait in line at Customer Service to pay for a card I had inadvertently stolen.
And so, I chose a life of crime. And I've never been happier.