On our way to Santa Barbara we stopped at a Safeway. The boys all went into the store while I waited in the car. A car pulled in next to me and a couple in their mid-thirties got out of the car and began preparing for their first trip to the grocery store with their new baby.

Dad fetched a shopping cart while Mom adjusted a bright yellow blanket that completely covered the baby in his (or her) car seat (something they don’t tell you when you buy a baby car seat – those handles are for show – you cannot actually carry the seat by the handle. I chose Kip’s stroller based on which stroller was big enough for me to set the baby car seat down into it because the seat was so heavy. I wish I had patented that idea).

I knew this was their first trip to the grocery store because they could not figure out how to put the car seat in the cart. After experimenting with two or three positions, they settled on a less than perfect position (in this random grandmother’s opinion). I thought about exiting the car and giving them some advice, but their baby car seat seemed unusually big – like it had air bag compartments (another possible patent) or something, so I decided to sit tight and watch.

Mom had a death grip on the car seat handle, but managed to adjust the blanket several times, protecting the precious cargo from an absolutely glorious day. Meanwhile, Dad brought out a very large bag that I thought might be a diaper bag, but it was Mom’s purse. Then he went back into the car and pulled out an enormous diaper bag. The grocery cart was already full!

Together they pushed the cart to the entrance of the store, both of them gripping the handle of the baby car seat as tightly as possible, as if letting go would be the end of the world and life would not be worth living if the bulky bundle of yellow hit a bump in the road or a crack in the sidewalk. My guess is at least one of them was either breathless or dizzy (probably the baby under that yellow blanket).

For a split second, I wanted to run after them and say, “Don’t let your child drop band,” but then I thought they seemed like the kind of people who would figure it out. You know their kid will.

Letting go: there was just the slightest push today; it was mutual and powerful, like pushing off the wall of a pool.