I found out recently my local Babies “R” Us store was going out of business. Of course, this meant I had to check out the sales and see if there was anything I couldn’t live without. This may sound crazy, but as I walked around this store for the last time, I found myself getting a little choked up.
This was the same store I waddled into six years ago, my belly swollen in my seventh month of pregnancy, a friend and her young daughter by my side. As we wandered down the aisles, scanning items to put on my baby registry, I was in a state of pure giddiness dreaming about the future with my son. The sheer volume of baby-related items amazed me. “Wipes warmer? Of course, he will need one of those! One package of burp cloths should do just fine. How much could he possibly spit up? Let’s just pass by the section of pacifiers—all the experts say those will cause nipple confusion.” As you can probably tell, my inaugural trip to Babies “R” Us occurred during what I like to call the blissfully naive stage of motherhood, when my baby was still in utero. In other words, I didn’t have a clue, but that magical scanner was sure fun to use!
After my son was born, I made several more trips to Babies “R” Us. Many revolved around something fun—shopping for new holiday outfits or picking out toys for birthday parties. Many trips were routine—stocking up on diapers, sippy cups, and pureed baby food. There were also plenty of trips made out of desperation. Buying nipple shields when breastfeeding was so painful that I couldn’t handle it anymore. Stocking up on Gripe Water, homeopathic remedies, and anything else that promised relief for a colicky baby. Or a quick run for Tylenol when the baby had spiked a fever. And good golly, the number of pacifiers I bought at this store! Because after all those well-intentioned plans about avoiding nipple confusion, my son left the hospital with a binky in his mouth and we didn’t look back. Those were a life-saver at my house. However, like the gobs of missing socks, pacifiers also seemed to disappear in rapid succession. And it turns out, one package of burp cloths lasted me about an hour, so there were plenty of those added to the shopping cart as well.
I am not sure how many trips I have made to this store over the past six years, but enough that I know the store layout like the back of my hand. Now that my youngest has outgrown almost all of the baby necessities, I haven’t been there nearly as much over the past year. But every now and then, I find an excuse to go. As I walk through the doors, I inhale the scent of baby powder that I swear is being piped through the vents, and my heart aches a little. Actually, more than a little, because I’m done having babies. Maybe that is why so many emotions bubbled up to the surface as I wandered through this store one last time and thought about it closing. It is so much more than just a store in my mind. It symbolizes a sacred time of my life—full of tiny baby cries and sweet baby snuggles. First steps and first words. And finding my way (sometimes painfully) through early motherhood. Just like the store, this time of my life is coming to a close. And I guess I’m just not quite ready to let it go.