By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
As proud as a preschooler could possibly be, I would stand tall with a shining Cheshire grin after being donned as the esteemed line leader. With dignity and resolve, I led my fellow classmates into the lunch room with confidence and style. It wasn’t until I became a preschool teacher that I had the realization that my consistent appointment to the front of the line was nothing more than surrender on behalf of my teacher. Obviously smarter than the average bear, she quickly ascertained my inability to follow the leader, remain in the group or keep from getting distracted at the slightest flicker of fluorescent light. It wasn’t my natural leadership skills or my subtle charm that landed me in the highly acclaimed role; however, most likely it was the one chance my teacher had at peace my entire preschool career.
Following the leader, the crowd or even the dotted line is still not in my arsenal of daily tools. Unfortunately, my need to do my own thing has been an underlying theme in all the comedies, tragedies and mysteries amassing the novel of me. Conformity isn’t in my color wheel and status quo makes me itch. Such is fine and dandy, even when it isn’t fine and dandy, until it pertains to my new adventure of motherhood. Not one single book or advice from one single unsolicited source informed me that the underbelly of motherhood is standardized, categorized and tidied up in such a neat pile of precious little conformity that I may require assistance.
Two things are consistent in my daily routine, I make my bed and I make mistakes. It is who I am. This past weekend I made a mistake that will be with me for the remainder of my days — whether it lingers in my muted subconscious or tattooed on my forehead, either way, it is there. My equally naïve husband and I thought a day trip to Babies R Us department store would be a logical next step in preparation for our mini-Weatherford’s arrival. Obviously, not one nearby soul sincerely cares for us — not our family, not our friends and certainly not the lady who met us at the door with a list. Anyone who fancied us at all would have prevented this excursion all together.
This department store of daintily covered death is nothing more than a torture chamber of doubt. Colors of pink, blue and yellow mixed with a sweet dash of you-have-no-idea-what-you-are-doing and plush toys proclaiming one’s highly visible inadequacies reach from floor to ceiling with glee. How can anything that begins with Baby be so evil? As my heart pounded inside my caving chest, I roamed from breast pump to Diaper Genie in a whirlwind of pure chaos. The gatekeeper of this domicile of deception lost both my husband and me at the mention of wipe warmer. Who warms wipes and why would they do such a thing??
Before I knew what had happened, I had burst into tears begging for my passport. Maybe not the most normal of reactions, but it seemed like the appropriate defense in a world so foreign. Trying to grasp any minuscule amount of remaining dignity, my gentle yet equally bewildered husband did what any pre-parent panicked man could do. He carefully picked up his hissy fit-throwing wife and proceeded to the nearest exit with the promise of chocolate.
God and Winnie the Pooh as my witness, I will never forget the feeling of complete and utter inferiority as a new mommy-to-be as I roamed the aisles of tools, toys and trepidation. Certainly not every soul was born knowing the difference between a bassinet and a bouncer or being well informed on the wide world of wipe warmers and diaper genies.
To anyone who has walked these aisles, absorbed the momentary paralysis that is pre-parent or stared aimlessly at the dizzying displays of diapers, I understand. And to those who have forgotten what it was like to be in those shoes, be gentle, be understanding and be quick to get out of the way should things go awry. We will figure it out, one wipe at a time. We may not know the difference between Pampers and Huggies, but even we know life is all baby steps and we will find our way, just like we found the Babies R Us exit.