Elle wore the ladybug costume just long enough to splatter the front with spit-up. I had big plans to dress her up for her Halloween debut, spit-up stain and all, but as it turned out Elodie much prefers pajamas to polka-dot tulle skirts and tight-fitting hats with antennae.
Such is life with baby. It would seem that parents would eventually figure out this most basic concept: Babies don’t need that much. They especially don’t need to be dressed up for Halloween. Why, then, do we continue to buy them things? Ridiculous – albeit cute – things like Halloween ladybug costumes?
My shopper’s guilt over spending $20 on a costume my daughter wore for five minutes, and will never fit into again, followed me into Babies ’R Us this week. Elle, her grandma and I were in Albuquerque, where we were drawn to the big bright Babies ’R Us sign like moths to a flame, shimmering on the distant shore of an asphalt parking lot sea surrounded by other big bright beacons like Linens ’N Things and OfficeMax.
Our intentions were wholesome. Elodie needs a new carseat before she reaches that 20-pound mark and is officially too big for that infant seat she finds so insufferable.
Well, we didn’t end up buying a car seat. But we didn’t walk out of there empty-handed either. Despite my lingering guilt over my ladybug splurge, I still found things to put into my shopping cart. Hard cardboard books Hop on Pop (because she doesn’t have any Dr. Seuss) and Is Your Mama a Llama? (because Mary my schoolteacher friend said it was a good one). Six packages of Earth’s Best diapers, because you’d get three free packages of wipes with purchase (and I can’t find those in Montrose). Baby socks. Baby shoes. Baby pajamas. They were cheap, OK?
All right, a pair of baby girl corduroy overalls, too. They were super-cute. And a little red sweater with a Scottie dog on it. It will be perfect for Christmas. And red leggings with Scottie dogs on them, to match the sweater that’s perfect for Christmas.
I know. I have a problem.
Strolling around Babies ’R Us with my rapidly filling shopping cart (I launched a fireplace guard into there as well, as we had actually talked about needing something like that) I noticed that I wasn’t alone. Babies ’R Us was downright busy, for a random weekday at 2 p.m. If the current economic downturn was hurting business in the nation’s retail economy, Babies ’R Us sure didn’t seem to notice. As a big sign on the front door had publicized, Babies ’R Us is even hiring!
Most of the other shoppers were pregnant women and their husbands, friends, or mothers, who filled their carts with newborn “necessities” like sleepers, onesies, pacifiers, Baby Bjorns, baby swings, vibrating chairs, and bouncy seats. I was once one of those women. In fact, the last time I had visited Babies ’R Us, my belly had been a full moon. My cart had been equally full. Little did I know, at that point in motherhood, these things: 1) Newborn size sleepers and onesies fit for about one week. For some big babies, they never fit. 2) Some babies, like mine, get really angry if you try to stick a pacifier in their mouth. 3) Those devices that promise to swing, rock or vibrate your baby into sweet, peaceful slumber take up entire corners of your home, and are quickly relegated to the garage where they collect dust because your child prefers other means of falling asleep… In Elodie’s case, it’s watching me vacuum the carpet.
The knowledge that the majority of things you buy or receive for your newborn don’t actually get very used really should carry over into the later stages of babyhood. Standing in the check-out line at Babies ’R Us, overfilled shopping cart before me, I marveled at my ability to disregard this knowledge. With the current sorry state of our bank account and job security a big question mark, I would never have dreamed of going on such a shopping spree for myself. So why is it OK to do so for my child, who is ultimately too young to care what she wears on Christmas, or that her library doesn’t contain Dr. Seuss? The Scottie Dog Sweater will, at least, be really cute for Christmas, I reasoned. That is, if she doesn’t barf on it right away.