Sunday, May 20, 2007

How to tell if you need retail therapy

Repeat after me: Don't get attached to things. Let things attach to you. Say it again with me.

You can't go to Target and swing a cat without hitting a pregnant woman.
The red and white bulls-eye, I suppose, just reels them in with their funky finds for new moms.

So it seems a little strange that I should be avoiding the place. It has to be pregnancy related.

I’ll admit that during the 15-month pregnancy drought, which finally ended in September, I'd tried to steer clear of the Midwest-Mecca of multi-department merchandising for just that reason. All those burgeoning bellies just made me feel down in the dumps.

Whatever incidental hunk of junk I sought could probably be found on the Internet, I told myself. "Shipping schmipping, at least I'd never have to bump into a baby bump again."

But recently I've felt its aisles, filled with brightly colored merchandise, closing in on me again.

With only a month to go, I feel as if Newton’s third law of motion -- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – is guiding me into a quagmire of retail inertia. I feel as if I'm in the scope of the bulls-eye, surrounded by other women staking claim to the aisle's precious real estate, happily stocking up for their own impeding arrivals.

Do I clean the old carseat or buy a new one?

If a buy a new one, will it help me avoid tennis elbow I suffered through most of 2004 and 2005?

But standing in the happy glow of Target’s offerings, all I see is more stuff. ... More stuff to add to the stuff I’ve already acquired and can't manage. More stuff to be unpackaged, stored, repackaged and recycled. More stuff that will wind up abandoned in closets.

I need to snap out of it. I have to get retail therapy.

So I let my fingers do the clicking and decide I am going to fling the old baby pack and buy a sling.

For Ittybit, we used an adjustable front pack, similar to the much touted BABY BJÖRN, but half the price. It was wonderful for about four or five months, until she doubled her birth weight and caused my back to protest. It was also cumbersome to put on. Straps and buckles had to be adjusted and readjusted every time.

This time I knew I wanted something that I could just put on and go. Something that seemed fool proof. Something that wouldn't make me want to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. But here I am balking at the median $60 price tag. So as is my way, I found an agreeable alternative -- a Peanut Shell baby sling from a company called Goo-Ga Style, Inc. in the clearance/discontinued item page of its online shop.

When it came in the mail I was so excited I practically chewed through the weather resistant mailing pouch to get at it. In the process I unfolded the precisely folded sling and stood in the kitchen with what resembled a brightly colored, gigantic fabric Cheerio.

"I am never going to figure this out," I lamented as I remembered the ALL SALES FINAL deal that made the price so attractive.

"I found a pocket! ... NO, the baby is DEFINITELY NOT fitting in there."

I looked at the picture on the brochure ... "how do they ..."

I folded it up, put it back in the bag and walked away.

"Maybe it's too small. It looks to small. What was I thinking? I am not that small."

I returned to the table a few minutes later -- unable to give up on the puzzle -- and I extract the sling again. This time I tried folding it in and slipping it over my shoulder. ... "Ahhhh. Maybe? ... Nope. It's upside-down."

I turn it inside out and try again. "There! That's IT! I've got it."

But then I wonder: "OK, I've got it on, but how to I get the baby in there? Maybe I should test this on a doll."

So off I go, looking for the most baby-like toy in Ittybit's collection. I settle for Elmo.

"Mama? What are you doing?"

"I'm just testing the new baby gear out on the little monster."

"Does it fit?"

"Yes, I think it does."

"Well ... daddy can be pretty, too."

"What do you mean?"

"If daddy wore that he'd be pretty, too."

I've no doubt he'd look mighty purdy in this, but I have a confession: The Peanut Sling so comfee I may just wear Elmo around the house until there's a suitable replacement. And by then, who knows, maybe my aversion to Target will have gone the way of sciatica and heartburn. Maybe I’ll throw caution to the wind and buy the new carseat after all.