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Mother’s Day at Walmart

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Walmart SuperCenter between the hours of 2 and 5am but I’d never recommend it.

It’s like FEMA has come though with their latest round of supplies since the most recent disaster. Aisles are littered with pallets of Great Value™ baked goods and whatever horrible sauce concoction Heinz is testing out.

Today there was an entire pallet of Mayochup which should be an actual crime in the state of Utah since we INVENTED mixing mayonnaise and ketchup together a century ago. You can take your unoriginal horribly-named publicity stunt elsewhere, Heinz!

But yeah, on any day Walmart in the hours of the Madrugada (an amazing Spanish word that basically means the middle of the night but in a much more efficient and cooler sounding way) is a war zone, and on the dawn of Mother’s Day, it looks like what happens at the end of a disaster cleanup when some high-ranking officials look at a wasteland of sadness with their hands on their hips and say “well Howie, we did everything we could to save these folks” before turning to a private helicopter and flying back to Virginia.

The point is, it’s bad.

And the way that I know is because I was there this morning, avoiding eye contact with every other awful husband grabbing supplies for their last minute redemption breakfast or quickly scanning the Hallmark aisle trying to figure out how to mold a graduation card into something Mother’s Day related.

Yeah, time got away from me this year. The fact is I had every intention of doing something extra special for the woman I adore, but time got away from me and the last few days we’ve been dealing with some unexpected things and ultimately I screwed up.

It was yet another reminder about how one of the reasons to never procrastinate is because I do need to make accommodations for the unexpected, especially with three kids who are all complete wildcards.

But the self-imposed punishment will need to be saved for another day. Because despite my obvious screwup I did want to figure out a way to show my gratitude for all of the amazing things that Jackie does for our family. It’s truly remarkable to sit back and watch. And yes I mean sit back in both a literal and metaphorical sense.

And even if it required repurposing an Entenmann’s coffee cake into some kind of cinnamon French toast, I was going to make the day special somehow.

So I’m patrolling the aisles of Walmart, looking for the flower bouquet that’s the least smushed of the bunch, and thinking to myself “Walmart should really charge $300 for these flower bouquets if they’re purchased after midnight on Mother’s Day eve.” I found some flowers and put them in the cart.

I walk past another man, holding a copy of Avengers: Infinity War, half way between the shelf and his cart, doing the mental gymnastics required to convince his significant other that it is indeed a Mother’s Day gift. “Honey, because we’re always battling with our kids… and it seems like we’re gonna be doing it forever… Get it? Haha!

I picked up what I needed to make Jackie all of her favorite breakfast things. Waffles with bacon and hash browns, and a hot chocolate to drink.

I’d pair the breakfast in bed with a reasonable greeting card and the fresh flowers. Also, thank you Walmart for not pricing gouging me on the flowers.

It was simple, but what else was I going to do at this point? I refused to be the guy on the housewares aisle comparing air fryers because “I know how you like french fries, babe.” Nothing says “I appreciate you” like streamlining access to fried foods. (After writing this out this may actually be a point I need to reconsider).

But you get it, I didn’t want to buy some thing that would probably never get used just for the sake of making the obligatory gift transaction.

I finished getting everything I needed and headed toward the checkout.

At 4:30am all of the self checkouts are turned off. There’s one lane open and it’s manned by the guy who is on hour 11 of his shift. It’s like the ultimate Mother’s Day walk of shame.

He’s eager to go home, but also feels obligated to make small talk because he can’t really pretend like he’s in a rush to get to the next customer.

Him: “Makin’ breakfast?” which loosely translates to “wow, you’re a real deadbeat.

Me: “Yup” which directly translates to “yeah I know I’m a real piece of trash and I’d really appreciate if you’d get off my back about and just ring up my damn groceries so I can maintain what’s left of my dignity.”

So yeah, not a great job from this dad this year.

But I’d much rather own that I didn’t do as good as I wanted to, go out of my way to make today special, and vow not to screw it up again than pretend like I didn’t mess up by wrapping a toaster and some cheap perfume in a gift bag.

And the reality is that Mother’s Day, as important as it is as a moment to pause and reflect on how amazing motherhood and the Mother’s in our lives truly are, it really manifests itself the other 364 days of the year.

Showing true appreciation, love, and gratitude for our mothers is something that needs to be a conscious effort in my life every single day.

I’m not off to a great start, but I’m hoping to make a very strong finish.

Jackie, I’m truly grateful for the incredible mother you are, for the often invisible and thankless effort you put forward every day without missing, and for saying “YES” over 14 years ago.

I feel like the most blessed and luckiest man on the planet. To have someone so special in my life, who does such amazing things, is a blessing that I may never fully comprehend.

Thank you to all the moms who are here today or who have gone too early. Your examples of unwavering service and love will have eternal impact.

And if you don’t believe me, believe this: There’s isn’t a force or influence on the planet other than motherhood that can get a bunch of grungy thirty-something dads into a Walmart at 4:30am on a Sunday. Not one.

Happy Mother’s Day!