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The Christmas Collision


I have a confession to make. I absolutely hate shopping. I despise going to the mall. I detest the toy store and the shoe store and the grocery store. If I could hire someone to purchase and deliver anything and everything I could possibly ever need from any store directly to my home, I would.

There are a lot of reasons I don’t enjoy shopping. If I’m looking for clothes, I typically try on half the store, carry it around like I’m going to buy it, and then end up putting it all back because I lack the ability to make any kind of fashion decisions. When I do fall in love with something, I usually end up feeling guilty for spending too much money on clothing for myself that will undoubtedly get stained by my toddler, chewed up by the dog, or shrunk in the dryer by my husband. If I’m shopping for my son, I usually debate over what size to get, considering he grows out of everything within mere minutes and the seasons change about every other week. I hate shopping for groceries because despite my OCD husband’s list that is neatly categorized by items and their corresponding aisles, I still end up wandering around aimlessly looking for something random like croutons. Where the hell do they put the croutons anyways?

Having a child brings on an entirely new level of stress when attempting to shop in any kind of store. Shopping trips are like strategic missions that involve an intense amount of planning and trickery to keep the kid occupied and happy at all times.

So now that you know how I feel about shopping in general, you can imagine how I feel about shopping in December. I’m a relatively anxious person to begin with, so dealing with the parking, the crowds, and the Christmas craziness all while trying to keep track of a very fast toddler is just way too much for me to handle.

Last December was my son’s very first Christmas. While I would normally try to avoid toy stores and strip malls at all costs during the month of December, I made an exception. Greyson was about ten months old and my husband and I were pumped to make it an awesome holiday. We got a babysitter (which was rare at the time) and made plans to go to Toys R Us to get his gifts. With him being little, we weren’t going to go crazy, but we were so excited to pick out a few new toys for him to open on Christmas morning. These are the things you look forward to as a new parent, right?

We maneuvered through the insane holiday traffic and the December snow and finally made it to Toys R Us, which was a complete mad house. Wives were barking orders at their husbands. Fathers were grabbing toys off shelves while running full speed up and down the aisles. I swear I saw a disheveled parent scaling a shelf to claim the last item left of a specific toy. One woman was walking around like a zombie repeating the list of “Hot Toys of 2012” over and over again quietly to herself. It was like a parenting war zone.

We did our best to keep to ourselves and to get a few things and get the hell out of there. And that’s when it happened – The Christmas Collision. Despite our efforts, our cart accidentally collided with another woman’s in the aisle we had been browsing in. I fully (naively) expected this chick to apologize and move out of the way. On the contrary, she slowly turned her head to size us up. The scowl on her face made her look like the mother of a brood of beasts who hadn’t slept in at least five years. Her hair was muddled and it looked like she hadn’t showered in days. Before we could even get a word out, she started yelling obscenities at us, right there in the aisle – in the middle of Toys R Us – in front of her children and other people’s children. I couldn’t even tell you exactly what she said because I’m fairly sure that I blacked out due to shock. I am a relatively non-confrontational person. I’ve never been in a serious fight in my life. I’ve never sworn at anyone (except my husband…. once or twice…..).  I couldn’t believe that the first time I considered losing my white knit mittens and throwing down was in the middle of Toys R Us while Christmas shopping for my infant child.

Honestly, it was unbelievable. I was disappointed that the shopping experience for my son’s first Christmas was tainted by this women yelling at me for accidentally bumping into her cart. Merry Fucking Christmas to you too, crazy mommy lady. Maybe you should ask Santa for a good night’s sleep and a gift card to attend Anger Management classes.

Needless to say, I shopped online this year.

The Baby Bomb

Before I had my son, I was one of those expectant mothers who swore that I wasn’t going to allow baby gear to overtake my household. I wanted to maintain some sort of respectable adult space so that I didn’t feel smothered by the all consuming sense of parenthood all the time. I wasn’t going to remove my coffee table from my living room and get rid of every piece of fragile décor. I was just going to teach my kid to be careful and not to touch that stuff. (HAHAHA). I thought it was important to still have some order and organization and to avoid letting the baby stuff become the centerpiece of every room in the house.

As it turns out, caring for a newborn requires a LOT of baby gear. Let me rephrase that, it’s not that parenting REQUIRES a lot of stuff. You could probably get by without a wipe warmer and a shopping cart cover. However, there is a lot of baby gear out there that does actually make the job easier. If you are lucky enough to have baby crazy friends and family, most likely they will buy you every product you could ever imagine (and then some) for your baby shower. And so it began.

In the months leading up to my son’s due date, my husband and I spent every weekend putting together strollers and assembling infant furniture. You’d be surprised how challenging some of this shit can be. If you and your significant other can sufficiently assemble a crib without starting a fight, then I’d say you are on the road to a successful partnership as parents because building that shit is stressful. Ever gone camping and tried assembling a tent with your spouse? It’s a major pain the ass, right? Now try putting together a gliding rocking chair with four hundred bolts and moving parts and one tiny Allen wrench (not to mention trying to do it while carrying 30lbs of extra weight and a massive bowling ball in your uterus).

Little by little, our house became filled with baby gear and I hadn’t even had the baby. Greyson’s closet and dresser were filled with freshly cleaned and folded newborn clothing, most of which he never wore considering he was born the size of a toddler. The swing, the most important piece of equipment we owned, was built and plugged in. We even had the car seat put into the car weeks before my due date.

It happened so fast that I didn’t even see it coming. After we brought Grey home from the hospital, it was like a baby bomb went off and left debris consisting of diapers, dirty laundry, and breast pumps laying all over every inch of the house. There was a bouncy seat in my bathroom and a baby play gym on my living room floor. The bassinet took up half of our bedroom. My nightstand was buried in baby products that we might need during the night, like burp clothes, diapers, and extra clothes for nighttime blow outs.

Between the baby and the dog, my husband and I are left with rights to about two square feet of this room.

Between the baby and the dog, my husband and I are left with rights to about two square feet of this room.

As the months went by, the baby stuff continued to build up. Greyson transitioned to bottles, so my kitchen counter was consumed by bottle parts and drying racks. When Grey began taking baby food, we built the high chair. The living room was becoming overloaded with baby toys and walkers. As he grew out of things like the swing and the baby seats, our basement (which was formerly our workout room) became mostly a baby storage unit. And you can try to maintain some adult space, but most likely, you will submit to letting the toys take over. Don’t get me wrong; with some crafty storage ideas and some organization, you can hide it. But whether or not it’s tucked away in trendy wicker baskets or cute leather ottomans, you kids’ stuff is everywhere.

If you look closely among the debris, you can pick out pieces of our former workout room.

If you look closely among the debris, you can pick out pieces of our former workout room.

This weekend, I threw out all of the baby bottles and put the high chair in the basement. I was so happy to get rid of the some of the gear that’s been overtaking my household. In reality, I know that every item we remove will be replaced by something else child related. So while there are no longer eight bottles and a bulky sterilizer claiming space in my very tiny kitchen cabinets, I now have two shelves filled with multi-colored sippy cups and plastic dinner ware suitable for a toddler.

Before I had kids, these shelves were dedicated to displaying my shot glasses. Sigh.

Before I had kids, these shelves were dedicated to displaying my shot glasses. Sigh.

The truth of the matter is, when you have children, you basically sign a contract granting them permission to overtake every inch of the house, down to the DVR list. How am I supposed to record The Housewives of New Jersey when my list is constantly 99% full due to daily episodes Thomas and Friends? Unfortunately, it just comes with the territory.

So rather than trying to disarm the baby bomb, I’ve decided to just do my best to maintain the debris. I’ll try to keep it as picked up as possible, but I’m not going to beat myself up over having a basket or two of toys in every room in my house. And as it turns out, it’s pretty tough to teach a toddler not to touch things that are fragile and to stay away from sharp corners…. So for now, my coffee table and my decorative candles are safely put away in the baby storage unit until further notice. And you know what, I totally OK with that.