Community Columns

Grocer finds a way to ease the plight of the working mom

Raley's has helped.

Working mothers are known to whine. We have a right to whine. We put in a long day at work, create a nutritious dinner, deal with laundry, help with homework, whaaa whaaa whaaa.

Work is a source of stress. If you love your job, you always strive to do better and do more; and if you hate your job, well, you hate your job.

Spouses are a source of stress. If you just tidied a counter, a man will set something on it. If you sweep the floor, they walk across it. The nerve! Men can just be so annoying. They are, well, men.

Children, the light of our lives, are a source of stress. They need food, love and water. And they need food, love and water every day, seven days a week!

Needless to say, despite our best attempts to be a blend of Mary Poppins, June Cleaver and Wonder Woman, sometimes a task or two get dropped. Absurd as it sounds, the task I forget most often is ... dinner. OK, I know, that puts me in top running for the Bad Mommy Award. But I have an excuse. Really. The kids' extracurricular activities interfere with a civilized dinner hour.

I've tried to compensate. My kids have learned to enjoy "high tea" after school. Granted, I don't make little cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Yet, the kids are accustomed to a healthy after-school snack.

Alas! High tea isn't enough. Exhausted, driving home from practice, a little voice pipes up from the back seat. "Mommy, what's for dinner?" I'm taken aback.

"Dinner? Why, I hadn't thought much about dinner. How about Lucky Charms?" I cringe at another bad mark on the mommy report card.

Then the little voice responds, "Again?"

To avoid repeating this scene requires that I have food in the larder. To have food in the larder requires a trip to the market. Which is added to the list of laundry, homework, cooking ... whaaa whaaa whaaa.

Rarely does something happen to make our lives easier. The dishwasher is a great help, but that's been around 50 years. And we've had microwaves for 30 years. Bread makers do create a pleasant aroma, but what was wrong with sliced bread?

Life just got easier. Raley's has e-shopping. There are little pictures of food with their prices that I can click to put in my virtual basket. I'm still at home, so I can check to see if I need something or not. I can save a list, so I don't have to search for items I buy all the time. I reserve a half-hour time slot for pickup.

Remember that annoying spouse? I used to try to send him to the market, but he consistently would forget something important, such as milk, and always add something he thinks constitutes a major food group, such as Cheetos. Any list I made would vanish magically between home and the market. Somewhere in our house lurks a collection of market lists and unmatched socks. Now, I can send him to the market with confidence! All critical food choices have been made. He simply drives up, and the food is loaded in the car for him. No impulse buys, no forgotten items.

Now all I need is a virtual cook.

Masson is a Modesto physician and mother of three. E-mail her at