This is what it should look like. Bright eyed children, gazing at produce. Mother with her shopping gloves on. Small basket over her slim arm. A perky little coat with twin set and pearls.
'Nearly done!' Mother would say. 'I just need some meat for Father's dinner.' And off they'd troop into the friendly butcher's, to get a lamb chop for Father.
Mother's basket, with just three or four items in it, would easily take the lamb chop, neatly tucked into a brown paper bag.
Home again. The shopping a joyful trip, with kind grownups and clean streets.
Right. So back to now.
Three tired children. And me. Bloody freezing. Cross adults everywhere. Youngest child doing that...'Mummy, I need a cuddle.'
You must be bloody joking. I am carrying fifteen carrier bags. Yes. Plastic bloody carrier bags. Forgot Organic Rustic Saintly Recyclable Use Them Again And Again bags. They are sitting on my kitchen table, along with my sense of humour. Another child needs the loo. The other wants to buy a totally unsuitable game for horrid little console. Comes up with reasons to buy said game.
'It's cheaper if you buy it today. ' (Why?)
'My friends have it.' ...And?
Daughter is freezing as she has come out without coat.
(Before we leave... has everyone got their coats? 'Yyeessss, Muuummmmyyy.')
Lugging carrier bags up hill and dragging youngest by arm, am plagued with guilt of not making this outing 'nice' enough.
Plan to get home ASAP and plug children into telly while I put the kettle on and sink a couple of mugs before getting tea.
Have to collate huge pile of toys by the front door, all bagged up ready for 'Christmas Fayre' tomorrow. (Mothers have dragged enormous black bin liners crammed full of toys, and left. Smiles on their faces as they realise how much space they will have now. Until the Christmas Fayre, when their children will buy enough crap to fill said bags twice over.) Must make labels for each toy and have Bright and Cheery notices telling every one we are a Toy Stall. Bit bloody obvious, isn't it?
But... will then make lovely tea for children and they can have it in front of fire in sitting room. Crumpets. Cake. Ooh, chocolate brownies made for Christmas Fayre... will they miss a couple?
I cheer up.
'Come on, darlings,' I say, 'cheerfully'.
Stunned, they look at me. Where is Bolshy Mummy gone? Daughter smiles up at me.
'I love you, Mummy,' she says, grinning her heart wrenching smile.
'Love you too, darling,' I tell her.
And hugging my ten bags (eldest two offer to take some) I turn us round and walk us towards the car.
Extraordinary how the thought of tea and fire can cheer.
Home we go.