In which I dance in the grocery store

This is for when the day has been a bit long and your patience has been a bit short, when you find yourself saying things like Don’t Make Me Come Down There and Honestly Can I Not Have Five Minutes Without Someone Having a Crisis? and Because I Said So, That’s Why.  It’s for when you forgot to eat breakfast. It’s for when your best friend goes back to work full-time, and you’re quite lonely for her and your little nieces during the day. It’s for when you are in the time between sending off your book proposal and waiting to hear if anyone even likes it and you’re pretty sure everyone will hate it, in fact, you kind of hate it now, too. It’s for when you wonder what your life is for, exactly, and you sort of want to burn down the Internet, you want to run away to live in a library in Paris, eating nothing but bread and cheese and apples for the rest of your life, washed down with wine, maybe you’ll get a few chickens, you’re out of coffee.

So here is the thing: open all the windows, even though it’s raining again. Let the cold air sweep through the house, into your lungs. Put a hat on the baby, just in case, socks, too, and then turn on the music. Turn it on, and when the tinies ask for something fast and fun, say yes.

And then dance. Dance. Dance. Dance. Twist your hips and waggle your bum, raise your hands above your head and swing wild. Listen to your children laugh and begin to dance, sweep the baby into your arms and spin in circles. Lead a parade around the kitchen, singing at the top of your lungs. Dance until your thighs ache and you break a sweat, until your son’s smile is so big, you can see his molars. Sing loud and play air guitar on top of the coffee table, when they holler “Watch me, mama!” your eyes are already there, memorizing the moment. When the man on the iPod sings that he wants more, baby, you’ll know just what he means.

Then close the windows and carry on. You can go get your groceries together, like you had planned, you’re out of eggs. And when Whitney Houston starts to sing that she wants to dance with somebody through the tinny intercom at the grocery store, this is what will happen. You’ll be pushing the gigantic germy cart, with the baby riding shotgun, and the tinies trailing behind, dejected over yet another “no, you may not have that,” and your hips will start to move, and you’ll catch their eye. Their faces will light up with anticipation of Mum-Being-Crazy and when you let go of the cart, and start to spin and dance in the middle of the diaper aisle, they’ll start to spin and dance, too, without question or thought or self-conscious checking, and you’ll all sing and dance, like a bunch of idiots, you want to dance with somebody and you are, and it will be too much joy, all of a sudden, too much richness, all of a sudden, and you won’t be able to catch your breath for all the gratitude and sadness and happiness and longing and satisfaction colliding in the grocery store.


  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    I love the idea of you guys having your own dance party in the market!!! You’re a fun mama!

  • hopejem

    That settles it…I’m moving to Canada!

  • LoveFeast Table

    You should share your dance party mix! Would love to hear the tunes you jam to.

    • Sarah Bessey

      I have notoriously morose taste in music, I’m afraid, Kristin! Like, AWFUL. Everythign is a moody, singer-songwriter and who can play air guitar to The Shins, right? I have about two or three fast songs and I’m trying to build up a few more just for these types of occasions. Clearly, whitney will feature strongly. 😉

  • Maree Caseri

    that’s awesome =] how wonderful that you can pull away from everything bringing down life and just let lose and dance with your kids…in a grocery store no less

  • Amanda @wandering

    This makes me want to find my Whitney Houston station on pandora and dance w/ my littles in the living room. After my sick baby wakes up from his nap, I will.

  • Abby Barnhart

    i’m such a big fan of talking to yourself via blog. and of dancing. yes, i’m pro-dancing.

  • Kathleenquiring

    Wonderful, wonderful. I want to be a mom just like you!

  • Bshaw

    hooray for you !! i am all smiles thinking of you and your tinies dancing in an aisle at the grocery store !! whoo hoo !! i only wish i had when i had the now i will take a second chance with my little people !! you inspire me !!

  • B Ma Beckey

    Love it….I dance with our 3 year old granddaughter…we have a blast….

  • Canita

    Yes.  That.  :)

  • Christina Tremill

    I haven’t commented before now…but I just had to say I love this. Five minute dance parties got my friends & I through many a difficult breakup, paper, test, anything in seminary. Keep dancing!

    P.S. I’m just picturing what might have happened with y’all if they’d played Single Ladies in the store…

    • Sarah Bessey

      ha! You know how we go way back with Single Ladies, I see! (And thanks for popping in for the first time – glad to “meet” you.)

  • Traci Michele

    I’m totally crying.  This was beautiful!  Thank you for writing.  You always cause emotion to well up in me.  Thanks.  Traci

  • Ashleigh Rivers

    I loved this :) It brought back memories of when my mom went crazy with fun, and we adored her for it!

  • Linda Stoll

    i think i would have been a better mama if i had danced …

  • Jane

    Beautiful!  Thank you.

  • pastordt

    I KNOW I’d have been a better mama if I had danced. It’s a major regret of my life, actually. Maybe I’ll try it with the grandgirl tomorrow…you never know. :>)  Love this a whole lot, Sarah B.

  • Pottery girl

    Yup, totally do this with my kids too.  Just did the other day, even to the point of picking up my son and playing him like a guitar, and he was laughing so hard. . . I swear to God your writing is so weirdly connected to what I’m experiencing, is there a chance you have a long lost sister down south in Portland?  Keep dancing, mumma!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Well, I’ve long thought that if I ever moved back to the States that the pacific northwest would be a great fit so maybe…. ha!

  • Adriel Booker


    thank you. x

  • Rachael Hall

    Goodness gracious, Sarah, I didn’t know you were a writer. That was amazing. Thank you for painting such a vivid picture. I had a long, quiet, lonely day yesterday, and spontaneously flung a quilt on to the grass in the back yard, and shut my eyes and listened to the wind blowing through the crepe myrtles, and all the birds chirping. It was amazing. For a few minutes, I pretended I was back in the Garden. In the cool of the day. It was lovely.

  • Leanne Penny

    Love it!  We are big into the dance party too.  My husband is leaving for 5 days soon and I suspect that some “dirty pop” and groove thang shakin will get us through many a tense moment, most especially at the grocery store.

  • Stephanie

    I like the way you wrote this post – free, full of word pictures. I could picture the four of you right in the middle of the grocery store, dancing…and it made me smile SO BIG. 

  • Jenn

    Yep, you’ve got it. This is also for when you let the kids wear hats from their dress up kits and you wear a big Easter Sunday looking hat too and just smile at everyone who looks at you funny while you run errands. Memories…

  • Keith and Jamie Lorenz


    And… I sort of want to burn down the internet too.

  • KatherineH

    There should be more of it!  Oooo… and here is some more of it.  Think you might enjoy this story of someone who takes the spontaneous happy dance in public to new levels.  It’s for real.