Bliss in Bulk

If you’ve seen The Exorcist, then you know what my 20-month-old daughter becomes around five o’clock if she hasn’t had a nap.

Exaggerating? Partially.

No, I don’t believe she has been possessed. Although, she does spin herself in circles while shaking her head and saying, “NO—dada—NO!”

Needless to say, a good many months have passed since she turned one and I wrote: “My daughter is the sculptor, chiseling away the unnecessary stone from my heart.” Although I am still in awe of her. Although she is still my everything. Although I love her more than I can put to words—this exorcist shit got to go!

Normally, she naps twice a day. On trying occasions, she doesn’t nap at all. Super Bowl Sunday was one such occasion when napping was out of the realm of possibility.

Like a great American sucker, I took her and my boy on a Costco run four hours before Super Bowl 51 kicked off. The line to wait for cooked chicken wings was twenty minutes. Maneuvering carts through the isle required a precision of darts, reverses, and u-turns. I may have said “excuse me” three dozen times, and grazed at least five carts as I threaded my way through the isles.

While navigating my cart like a Formula One driver, my baby girl—angel pie, honey child, sweetheart—hit me, again and again. If she wasn’t hitting me, she was demanding out of her seat. If she was out of her seat, she demanded to be back in.

Let me set this record straight.

I love going to Costco. I love to find the empty aisles of long industrial shelving, and sprint with my children in their seats, putting my leg up on the under steel and cruising with my arms pressed up on the handle, cool forced air in my face.

I love going to Costco because I hate going to the grocery store. In a wonderful paradox of bulk, shopping once at that gluttonous warehouse saves us multiple trips to the smaller, meagerly-stocked grocer.

I’ve had great moments there—real miracle of the mundane moments. When the store is empty, and both kids are rested, they like to work together to push the cart.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

For a fleeting moment, a belief came to mind that these kids may one day make my life easier rather than more difficult.


There was nothing super about Sunday.

It took three hours to get there, shop, and come back. And if my children’s behavior wasn’t enough, I absorbed the barrage of judgmental passing side-commentary, mainly from older women:

“Oh, she is quite the explorer.”

“That girl’s got attitude.”

“She’s one busy baby.”

Some comments were placating, good-natured, Yoda-esque: “Brave man, you are.”

Some were passively judgmental, like this one spoken as my daughter ran away from me: “Well, that girl’s got some strong will-power.”

Some were downright blunt: “That child’s out of control.”

No matter the intention of what was said, the comments shot to the core of my issues with an unyielding daughter. On a trip with such promise—buying snacks and wings and nachos for a Super Bowl viewing—it felt like going twelve rounds only to lose the fight in unanimous decision.


It was only when I got home and checked up on the #RecoveryPosse on twitter and read of sober Super Bowl viewing experiences that I realized the Costco-sized portion of bliss the trip actually held.

Shopping for the Super Bowl, I never even saw the multiple liquor and beer sales that were placed under my nose—placed exactly where people like me, the stressed-out dad, were sure to see them. The alcohol didn’t even register in my brain as existing, let alone as an option for purchase. I survived the most stressful shopping experience I’ve ever had without noticing, let alone thinking about, the relief that alcohol could give me.

I found my relief that night: sober-eyed, sober-minded, watching and following the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. My daughter was passed out from her exhaustion upstairs in her crib. I explained to my son how the game of football works, and shared laughs with my wife during commercial breaks.

Bliss is not as hard to come by as people think.

21 Responses to “Bliss in Bulk

  • Great Post, Great Title 🙂

  • Colin Chatburn
    11 months ago

    mixed message here hand a brief moment thought children might one day help.on the other hand you say(i believe totally)you do not touch drugs.
    call me immoral(or soft) but im a firm believer in bribery,candy and ice cream.whatever works.
    fantastic enjoyed that piece

  • Soberinny
    11 months ago

    You continue to amaze me with your writing. You really do find the silver lining in the black cloud. I love how hopeful and awestruck you are in this (at times monotonous and exhausting) life. Thank you!

    • Thanks for your kind reply. I have to admit that I only found hat silver lining like 4 days later. Haha. But I did realized how incredible it is not to have a thought about it for that long.

  • Same here – hate the supermarket, love Costco. But the tables have turned. Now whining and demanding only happens when one of my three adult childen takes ME to Costco.

    You now have something else to look forward to – parental payback! ???

    Kudos! ?

  • Small children should have to sign agreements regarding naps and sleep schedule, witnessed by a Notary.

  • Great post Mark – don’t know how you pump them out so consistently man – I am in awe.

    I have never been to a Costco…can you believe it? But shopping in a grocery store – a gazillion times. I actually enjoy it most of the time. It’s my time to myself, but sometimes I take the boys and they have fun. Their dad buys them their treats and they push the cart for me. Win win. I remember my dad taking me shopping all the time (rarely did my mom go – life is repeating!) and sometimes I hated it, but sometimes I enjoyed the scenery. I guess it really is the mundane stuff that sticks with us.

    Thanks for sharing, kind sir.

    • I appreciate how you are doing what you recall from your father. That loop is an amazing thing. And unavoidable I think. Great to hear from you Paul!

  • Oh people are idiots. ? I wonder why it never occurs to anyone to say, “Hey, you need an extra set of hands for a minute?” Once when I was big pregnant with number 3, and I was shopping with number 1 and 2 and they were running amok, out of control for sure, all of a sudden number 1 kneeled down on all fours so number 2 could stand on his back to see a stuffed animal on the counter. I looked behind me at the long line of people waiting and joked, “I know youre all thinking, ‘omg and shes having another one!” The most wonderful voice came from the back of the line….”Only the people with no children are thinking that, honey.” As this white haired sweet face smiled brightly at me. The whole line laughed….and it was all ok. Bless her for her kindness which I have obviously never forgotten.

    • Wow. Kind words from a kind woman. Maybe it’s a male thing. They assume “I got this” / that’s the vibe I give? What a scene you were in!

  • If I could go back in time, I would ignore all of the people who told me to “control” my daughter. She was creative, sensitive, and determined, and I should have let her be herself and not have tried to institute other people’s ideas of what a good girl should be. She did a great Linda Blair. It turns out, we found out much later, that she was hyper sensitive to stimuli and really could’t help her behavior. All of the demands we had made of her were things she couldn’t do if she tried. In the meantime, I’m sure she suffered at being singled out as a behavior problem, especially as compared with her much calmer brother.

    P.S. She is now working on her doctorate and is an absolute angel. They do grow up wonderfully. ; )

  • You are a BRAVE …SUPERHERO Dad… Costco on a Sunday…God Bless YOU!!!!!!

    Been there…done that… Survived it too! LOL.

    imagine taking them when they are hungry teens…whole new set of “memories”!!!! Don’t blink they will be in High School. Enjoy every exorcist moment!!!!

    Great post! Made my day. Reminded me it is SO FRICKING FUNNY years later.

  • I barely survived that kind of shopping trip over Christmas. Love your writing. Also love the fact that you didnt even clock the alcohol, like it was a non entitiy. Yay! x

  • I LOVE seeing small joys in life!
    Thank you so much for helping me find more.
    They are sometimes all over the place, sometimes, hidden away until we can unlock them.

  • Ginger Groundhog
    11 months ago

    How funny Mark that so many if the comments you perceived as judgements or veiled criticism I view as compliments
    “Well, that girl’s got some strong will-power.” Yes thank god she has.
    “she’s quite the explorer” I know it’s marvellous isn’t it.
    “That girl’s got attitude” Yes, thankfully she has, we must be doing something right.
    “She’s one busy baby” I agree and I love her all the more for it.
    I’m not missing the point here, you didn’t notice the alcohol ha ha. I wonder if you had been on a mission to stack up on booze if it would have meant you took comments like that more seriously and were stricter with your children? I feel I would have wanted to be perceived as a responsible parent with well behaved kids, “see I’m normal, not a problem drinker”
    As for your Exocist child, I’ll swap you for my 18 year old ‘Sybil’ I don’t know from one minute to the next what I have done that will have ruined her life. n.b. I am talking about big issues like forgetting to buy her bananas instead of apples, not the fact I struggled with alcohol for 6 years.

    • Hi Ginger–you’re absolutely right. Those comments could have been taken as compliments. It is what I love about her as well–the explorer and willful little girl. I guess I was in a particular mood to say them on the flip side.

      Funny how our worlds are often just a matter of how we see our worlds. You ask a great question. If I were stacking booze, how would I be parenting? That’s something I can explore with some fiction. I could try to imagine it, but it would take some time, back story, setting, etc. if I ever do, I’ll share it with you!

      As for your Sybil, I guess I should stop wishing forward these precious years? Soon enough she will be out of he house? And ready to come running back, knocking on the door for after realizing how amazing she actually has had it?

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