My memories of being a new mom are, at best, foggy. Between the sleep deprivation and the culture shock of becoming a parent in an instant, my thoughts were less than organized. So as I navigated through the postpartum period and slowly got my footing, I was still a little woozy from the experience of motherhood in its earliest stage. As a result, I made some bad decisions, often about food (cereal for every meal), and most definitely about shopping.
There is one TJ Maxx I can get to somewhat easily, via subway, from where I live in New York City. The appeal of this store is that it is one floor, but has everything (and doesn’t smell like a Pizza Hut Express), putting it significantly above Target on my scale of adult retail locations. And as a new mom I thought a trip to TJ Maxx would be a manageable milestone for one of my first endeavors out in the world as someone else's parent. If I could successfully participate in an event from my pre-child life, it would be a sign that I could handle the unknown ahead. If I could move through the aisles with the muscle memory of my former life, pushing the stroller while my infant slept, I would have tangible proof that everything might have changed, but it wasn't a change I couldn't handle.
The thing about expectations is that they differ vastly from reality, though, and at least in my case. So if you’re contemplating a step out into the real world of marked down designer items after you have recently welcomed a child, I suggest you proceed with caution. Try not to make the following bad decisions I made at TJ Maxx as a new mom:
Buying Clothes For Me To Shrink Into
In the fourth trimester my body was neither here nor there. I was still wearing maternity clothes because I couldn’t yet fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, but they were baggy in places and made me look even more pregnant than I had previously been. I figured I should treat myself, and boost my self-esteem, by scoping out some new wardrobe pieces for the “future” me. The problem with that ideas is that you can never accurately predict the future. Just because I lost the baby weight didn’t mean I was the same shape was pre-baby. Those TJ Maxx clothes might still be somewhere with the tags on. I should donate them.
Spending Way Too Much Time Searching For Shoes My Size
If clothes were posing a challenge to fit into as I transitioned from pregnancy to something closer to my pre-pregnancy weight (though not necessarily my pre-pregnancy shape), shoes would scratch my retail itch. But I have child-size feet and finding grown-up shoes in my size is a challenge.
Believing I Would Actually Have At Least 40 Minutes To Browse While My Baby Napped
I knew I wasn’t going to have the luxury of two hours to myself since my newborn rarely slept for that long a period of time, but I thought it would be a safe bet to get at least 40 minutes of shopping in while she napped. I had not yet learned the number one rule of parenthood: nothing with children ever goes as planned.
Purchasing Painted Wooden Signs
“Sorry for what I said when I was hungry.”
More like: "Sorry for what I bought when I finally got out of my house with a baby and felt like celebrating by buying all the things."
Purchasing Painted Wooden Letters
Now that we were a family, Pinterest says we have to hang our initials in the foyer. Except, my husband and I are not very handy people. So if anyone needs any wooden W's, L's, S’s or C’s, I can hook you up.
Purchasing Nine Throw Pillows
I spent a lot of time on the couch breastfeeding as a new mom, so anything that could offer me some lumbar support was tempting. But my decision-making skills postpartum were weak. I was sleep-deprived and just couldn’t choose among the fake sheepskin, pseudo-suede, or embroidered options. So I bought them all.
And none of them helped my back.
Thinking I Could Always Just Nurse In The Fitting Room If I Had To
I don’t know if it was because I live in one of the most overcrowded cities in the world, or if TJ Maxx shoppers really take their time scrutinizing their potential fashion choices, but after 15 minutes of waiting in line for a fitting room with an increasingly pissed off baby, I had to give up. Cut to me leaning into a rack of parkas while I urged my infant to “hurry up” as she breastfed.
Attempting A Diaper Change In The Clearance Aisle
Of all the aisles, this was the worst one to try to pull off this feat. I did not realize how much foot traffic the clearance aisle had. Thinking I could hunker down in front of the discounted seasonal candles without encountering much interference was a rookie retail mom mistake.
Believing I Was Ready For This Hardcore Retail Experience
For the first couple of weeks postpartum, all my shopping was done in the wee hours of the night, by the light of the laptop as I made questionable Amazon purchases, half-asleep while feeding my newborn. But that didn’t prepare me for the physical shopping experience, with my child in tow, after an extended period away from groups of adult humans. I was foolish for thinking I could go from zero to 60, and plunge back into the full department store experience.
A warning for new moms: start slow. Make a grocery list of no more than three things and call it a day. Then gradually build to the full retail adventure: browsing, trying on, interacting with salespeople, and waiting in line to pay. Confidence will be gained over time, and you won’t find yourself with a wooden alphabet you mistakenly thought qualified as “decor” while at the store.
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