As any mother with a toddler knows, trying to 'get things done' just doesn't usually happen as we may have had it planned out (this I am still learning). I have been struggling more and more with taking E along with me to do errands or take him anywhere because he likes to be 'on the run.' I find it really hard to keep track of him or keep him isolated. This morning I packed E up in the van and took him along with me on some errands which included a couple stops to maternity stores to do some exchanges/returns before I head out on holidays this coming weekend. As always, I bring an assortment of snacks and goodies, books, or other 'attention getters' along in my bag to help him as we are out and about.
My first maternity store stop was Thyme Maternity on Fairway Road in Kitchener. I had purchased a pair of white capris earlier this month and realized later... "why the heck did I buy white capris!?...they are just going to get filthy/stained and ruined! Plus I'm ubber hot so I'd much rather be wearing shorts in this hot weather!" So I was hoping to exchange for a pair of shorts and if I couldn't find that, something for the Fall before the baby arrives. I did not shop at Thyme much during my last pregnancy as I found their prices to be a bit more but I thought I'd try this time around for a bit more variety in selection. My experience was as follows...
Immediately when I entered the store E did his famous 'dive' out of my arms and began his usual 'on the run' routine. (Funny thing is...I had just made a prior stop at BabiesRus to purchase him a toddler harness to help with these situations...but I hadn't tried it out yet). The sales lady in the store immediatly informed me that my child was wandering (like I didn't know) and her tone was very rude as if she did not appreciate this kind of behaviour from my child. After telling her that yes, I was aware and that I could not hold him the whole time (did she not notice I'm super pregnant?), I immediatly directed him toward the change room that has a few toys in it in hopes that he would settle there for a bit (ha..yah right...mr. 1 minute attention span man).
Basically, my whole time in the store I battled with quickly picking out some clothing to try on, running after E, carrying him around, chasing him again, dealing with the annoyed clerk, almost running out of the change room in my underwear, and on and on it went. Not once did the clerk help me pick out some clothes, or help to entertain my child as I was in the store. Not once did the clerk speak kindly and friendly to my child, or act like children were welcome in her store in any way. Her attitude was cold, unfriendly, and rude. When I finally (which was actually not that long) got to the desk to make my exchange, she was on the phone with an annoyed face, covering her ear as she tried to talk to someone while E was crying on the floor (I had attempted the toddler harness and that was NOT going to happen). Even after all this, she insisted that I fill out all the info on the exchange paper work...as if it was vitally important and she did not notice that I'm struggling to keep a handle on my child.
All this to say....I left this store in tears. I have never felt more stupid and rudely treated before when it has come to my child. I expected more from a maternity store...they are selling to mothers are they not!? I could not believe the attitude and atmosphere of this store. So cold to an actual 'real' mothering experience. I'm not even sure that the store clerk has ever been pregnant or is a mother...let alone showed any interest in children or actually helping her customers. I was offended and I was hurt. Needless to say, I will NOT be shopping at this store anytime in the near future again. I will NOT support a maternity store that does not show respect, help, and encouragement to young mothers and expectant mothers. Not all expectant mothers are first time mother's you know!! It's as if they were selling to people who haven't actually gone through having a child yet, or experienced dealing with a toddler. Not at all a welcoming experience. I left feeling overwhelmed and emotionally unstable.
And so the morning continues... My next stop was Motherhood Maternity across the road. I had purchased a pair of black shorts that I realized I did not like and would not go with the majority of my tank tops for the summer. Again, I was hoping to do an exchange, or more realistically a return as I did not want to go through another experience like I just had. After an emotional meltdown in the car, and fighting away my tears, I set foot into Motherhood Maternity with E in the stroller and with his soother this time (tried to change it up, and I could see that he was starting to get tired early today). I was immediately greeted upon arrival into the store with a friendly welcome as well as a sweet 'hello' to my son. The store clerk engaged him in conversation with a smile on her face. I was immediately more at ease knowing that this person obviously likes children!
Now I realize that my last vent machine post just 'dissed' the Motherhood Maternity online ads depicting so called 'pregnant' women wearing high heels and shorts, with perfectly tanned legs, and all a size small. But even though I still do not agree with these ads (as it depicts an unrealistic view of pregnancy and pregnant women) I have come away from this store feeling much more encouraged, liked, and wanted. The clerk had no idea about my previous experience before I set foot in her store but when I was leaving I told her 'thank you'. I said that I wanted to personally thank her for her attitude towards me and to my child when I came into the store and for her help and friendly composure. I appreciated the store's willingness to work with mom's who have children tagging along on their shopping experience. I then proceeded to tell her about what had just happened at Thyme Maternity and she said that there have been other complaints about that store. She also told me that there have been other mothers who have came into Motherhood in tears because of their experience at Thyme maternity down the road! (well that was comforting to hear! since i had just shed my own tears in the car before!)
Although I can't say that my morning shopping experience was a real 'success', I was much happier with my Motherhood Maternity experience than at Thyme. I left this morning with aspirations, ideas, and dreams for what I would like an 'ideal' maternity store experience to be like!
So, if there are any maternity store employees, managers, or dealers out there who read this (and we really do need more of them in our area)...here are some of my ideas!...
- Although it would be fantastic to have every one of my shopping experiences to be 'child free', I am an at-home mom, and I can not afford to get a sitter to take care of my children every time I want to do some errands. That being said, I would love to see a maternity store in our area that caters to mom's with children tagging along! It would be wonderful to see an enclosed play area in the centre of the store filled with toys/books etc. where I can place my child while I do some browsing. I would know they are safe and can not escape this area while I'm in the store. I would of course check on them regularly...but at least they could be occupied with toys and things that are age appropriate for them!
- I would also love to see each change room decorated with fun things for kids to look at/play with...toys/puzzles/games attached to the walls. I would also prefer to have change rooms with doors that completely close (not just curtains) so that I can ensure that my child stays in the room with me while I'm trying on clothes (no one wants to go on a chase in their underwear after their child who escaped the curtain!)
- I very much appreciate a maternity store that has employees who are pregnant,been pregnant, who are mothers, or in the very least have a love for children and respect for young mothers! I appreciate a positive attitude, willingness to help, and encouraging words as I struggle to find something that looks 'appealing' on my constantly growing body. Going through pregnancy, childbirth, and the change to becoming a 'mom' is a MAJOR life change which does a number to ones physical image and emotional well being. I appreciate someone who understands this and is on my side. I find it very frustrating dealing with people who obviously have 'no idea', no respect for, or 'can not relate' in the least bit to my frustrations, needs, or struggles. Attitude is SO SO important!
Maybe I am being too idealistic, maybe I am being to 'picky', or maybe I am just being too emotional about my experience but I have a feeling that this will not be the first time I will happen upon a situation like this. As I continue my adventure in motherhood, I know that I will continue to face challenges and obstacles to put on a 'good face' in public. It's hard to keep my head up when dealing with judgmental eyes and rude attitudes. It's hard to stay emotionally 'with it' when dealing with a wayward 'on the run' child, growing pre/during/post pregnancy figure, sore feet, sore back, carrying a purse and diaper bag, all the while expected to have an "I've got it all together" attitude and demeaner when talking with store clerks, strangers, other moms, or people I run into.
I'm all about being REAL. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Today I am thankful for the reminder on my son's SKY VBS CD blasting in the van as I drove away in tears. It said...
"How can I be strong when everything is going wrong?
God give me strength, and help me to find my way.
I've got to think, think, think,
Think about the goodness of you, my God
Because I know, know, know,
no matter how I feel I'm gonna trust in You.
I will trust in you right now,
no matter how I feel, right now.
I will trust in You."
Praying for God's strength for you as you are 'on the run' with your little ones!