Like many women in my age group, I probably have seen the movie Pretty Woman a few hundred times. One of my favourite scenes is when Julia Roberts returns to the snooty Rodeo Drive dress shop all dolled up in the posh threads purchased by her [ahem] employer. "Hi, I was here yesterday and you wouldn't wait on me," she reminds the saleswomen. "Big Mistake." she announces as she holds up all her shopping bags "Huge!" she adds for extra emphasis as she makes her grand exit. Yet, to appreciate that scene, one has to remember the earlier scene when she walks in wearing her hooker clothes.
"Oh, I don't think we have anything in your size..." The first sales woman subtly tries to discourage her.
"It's very expensive!" The second one tries harder to make her feel uncomfortable
Finally they take the direct approach. "We don't have anything for you. You're obviously in the wrong place. Please leave."
I recently purchased a baby shower gift for my friend in LA who is due in a few more weeks. She was registered at a popular baby supply store and upon completing my order, I was asked if I wanted to sign up for email notifications, and if so, I could receive a 20% off any one item coupon. Well, hell yeah! About 80% of my in-box gets deleted anyway, so why not delete some more for a 20% discount. However, the devil is always in the details. The offer excluded almost every major brand name baby retailer and would expire in just over a week. Although we had decided not to purchase any items until reaching viability, exceptions could be made when we're talking about potential savings. I had Co-worker take a look at the details to help me determine how I could best stretch my dollar given the limitations. "Hmm... well, this excludes just about everything." She deduced. "How about a Sophie doll? They're pretty expensive." I enquired about how much. "Twenty dollars." she replied. I silently sighed. That would only save four dollars. I don't think she quite grasped the purpose of my mission. I decided I would go to the store and just ask a salesperson how I can best use the coupon. I may try to keep my pride intact in front of my family and friends, but I have no qualms about looking like a chav in front of a complete stranger.
I entered the address to the store into my car's navigation system. It was actually right next to a Best.Buy that we've frequented many times over the past seven years and I never noticed the baby supply store next door. I walked through the front entrance and I froze. Yes, I expected the store to be full of baby related products, but it felt so overwhelming at that moment. There was a long queue of mostly very pregnant woman at the Customer Service desk. I felt as if they were staring at me. Suddenly I felt very self conscious. I was still in my gym clothes, but that wasn't the reason. My bump felt invisible at that moment. Despite the fact that my bump was first noticed and is most evident in my workout attire, I still have people telling me, "You're five months pregnant! You can barely tell!" It is much to my delight, but at that moment, I really wished I looked more pregnant than fat. As I watched the sales team helping other pregnant women, I started to feel singled out. Suddenly, I became terrified that I would be approached by a manger who would tell me that I didn't belong here and that I needed to leave.
I wanted to walk out of the store right then and there, but I really needed to pee, so I headed to the bathroom. As soon as I entered the stall, the tears started to fall. Then I started sobbing. "Are you all right?" the woman in the next stall enquired. That was my cue to pull myself together. "Yes, I am." I lied. I couldn't expect a complete stranger to understand why it was so hard for me to be in a baby supply store. Deep breath Jane... C'mon. You can do this!
Fortunately, my meltdown consumed enough time to allow the queue to dissipate. I showed the agent my coupon and basically asked what was the most expensive item that would be eligible for the discount. The girl just looked back at me "Well, what do you need?" she asked, probably thinking O-M-G, How tacky! and she's not even pregnant! "Everything." I replied, which most likely confirmed her thoughts. "Well, it just applies to these brands. There are other brands. You may want to check out the car seat or strollers" she suggested. Maybe a stroller would be a good place to start. I went to that section of the store and took some pictures of a few models so I could research them when I got home.
Then I looked around the store again. Next to me was a woman with her toddler looking for tandem strollers. One woman brought a doll so that she could try on baby carriers. Another couple was walking around the the scanning gun. There was a woman who kept her hand on her bump, it made me wonder if it were glued to her shirt. Once again, I felt as if I didn't belong. I've seen enough, it's time to get the fuck out of here... I thought to myself. Then I received a swift kick from Jate. As daft as it sounds, I felt as if he or she were echoing my thoughts, Hell yeah! We need to get the fuck out of here! While I can't say I approve of the language, I couldn't help to think that my kid understands me! More so, it was the validation that I needed. I only needed one person to recognise me as a mother. I may never be welcomed by the Mommy and Me crowd. I may never feel like I fit in with the other Soccer Moms. I just need to feel that I belong to Jate.