The old me (and by “old,” I mean the 20-something, well-rested and well-dressed version of myself) used to love to shop.
I’d seek solace in my favourite strip mall, boutique or department store and peruse the aisles for hours, picking up anything that caught my eye. Fancy coffee in hand, I’d have nowhere to be and no budget to adhere to.
I was in retail heaven.
But that was before. Before the births of my two beautiful girls. Before my left breast began to droop conspicuously lower than the right. Before I had to weave a double stroller through crowded stores with pushy shoppers and a maze of store displays.
And, before I decided to leave my well-paying job as a community newspaper reporter to become a stay-at-home-mom.
But things have changed. What I used to enjoy about shopping is no longer a reality.
My retail heaven has turned into retail hell.
Recently, with my two toddler in tow, I headed out to begin my Christmas shopping.
Both little angels had just finished lunch and would most likely fall asleep and nap in the double stroller — or so I told myself.
I was wrong.
The moment we entered the first store, my 18-month-old daughter, Zoë, erupted into an epic meltdown.
She let out a ferocious wail, fiercely kicking her chubby legs into the back of her older sister, Molly’s, stroller seat.
“She hurt me,” screamed the jolted three-year-old-toddler. Her lower lip started to quiver — a sure sign that a temper tantrum was about to go down in the middle of Home Sense.
In an attempt to take the prying, judgmental glances away from my unruly bambinas and frazzled, baby-food-stained, yoga-pants-wearing, unwashed-hair-sporting self, I unbuckled Zoë and decided to just carry her, while pushing Molly in the stroller.
Of course, it was just at that moment her diaper sprang a leak. A big leak.
I looked like a one-woman wet T-shirt contest.
Regardless of the fact that I was soaked and smelled strongly of urine, I was still focused on what I had set out to do from the beginning. Shop.
After a quick diaper change, I carried on, with a squirmy, cranky toddler straddling my hip.
Not to be outdone by her little sister, my oldest decided that she no longer wanted to be confined to her stroller.
“I want out. Now,” Molly pouted.
I barely had time to unfasten the buckles and she had bolted from the seat.
“Get back here, now,” I demanded. Red faced, exhausted and sweaty, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
With a little creativity — and good old fashioned bribery with (dare I say it) candy, I was able to get her back into her seat. That was not the case for the Zoë, who no longer wanted to be held or sit idle in her stroller.
Unfortunately for Little Miss Naughty Shopper,” running wild through the store was not an option.
With a little determination and focus I was able to check off a few of the items on my list and eventually clip the little one into the buggy. I moved fast, knowing I had two tiny ticking time bombs, ready to go off without a moment’s notice.
As I paid the cashier for my loot, I looked down at my two girls. They were both slumped down in the stroller, sound asleep. Finally.
Who would believe these two cherubic little angels had caused me so much grief mere minutes before?
Across the checkout line, a young woman in her 20s with a dainty designer handbag was admiring my zonked out offspring. I studied her closely through my heavy eyes and noticed there were no dark circles under her dolled-up, sparkling orbs, no stains on her perfectly-pressed pants or leaks springing from the front of her shirt.
She was like the ghost of Christmas shopping past, come back to haunt me.
“What adorable little angels,” she said, stopping briefly on her way out, one hand on her tiny waist. “I can’t wait to have kids. And two daughters? They must be so much fun to shop with.”
I nodded politely, wiped the sweat from my brow and uttered the lie that every mom tells those who have yet to break into the club.
“Absolutely, it’s a real blast. Just wait.”
– Kristyl Clark, a former Black Press reporter, is founder of valleymom.ca. Follow her on twitter @shesavalleymom.