We all have guilty pleasures. One of mine is walking around Target. I feel that it’s actually one of my better choices since a) it provides a form of exercise- especially if I get that cart with the sticky wheel, and b) it doesn’t add overall caloric intake (unless I hit up the popcorn on the way in). I won’t say that it doesn’t hit my budget at some points since mindless wandering does lend itself to mindlessly throwing unneeded merchandise into the cart. But it’s inexpensive mindless unneeded merchandise so it’s not as bad as mindlessly wandering through Bloomingdales.
I tend to get lost in two aisles in particular – the candles and workout equipment aisles. If you haven’t read about my home gym shopping habit, read here. Candles have always been an obsession of mine, although I took a brief interlude after our house fire. My husband put me on a strict flameless candle policy for a few years. During that time, I wandered down the chocolate aisle…which caused my weight gain…or so I’ve convinced myself.
While on one of my mindless wandering jaunts this week, I tried to figure out what the draw is for me. And then a 3-year old little girl came around the corner to proudly show me her backpack…and a random wicker basket on the shelf. Her mother smiled and said “none of these are authorized purchases” and we laughed together. That is the moment when I realized why I relish it. I see young families with kids running through life and I get some crazy enjoyment out of it…not in a “man, I’m so glad that’s not me” but in a “you have no idea how much you’re going to miss this” way. Many times, I actually vocalize it to the parents. I’m that woman that walks up and says “You’re a good Mom” or “This is such a fun stage…enjoy it!”
I have watched parents with two-year-olds throwing fits and know they are feeling completely judged by everyone around them. How do I know? Because it happened to me. What they don’t know? It happens to all of us! So I whisper to them as I’m passing – “It’s ok…we’ve all been there…” I watched a Dad wearing a baby in a carrier the other day trying to navigate the laundry soap aisle while watching his toddler scream for Mom. He looked at me and said “he usually doesn’t act like this” so I responded with “no worries…mine always did! And they still turned into functioning adults!”
Sometimes I don’t interact, I just observe. As Baby Boomers, I think we’ve convinced ourselves that the younger generation is incapable, spoiled and raising hellions. Guess who else thought that? The Silent Generation when we were raising our kids! What do I see when I’m wandering around Target? Young families, just like we were, doing the best they can, just like we did. Only now we have the choice between giving into our selective memory of how great we were as parents or truly remembering just how hard it was to get those kids to adulthood and how many mistakes we made on the way…and then having some grace and words of encouragement for the generation coming up.
So I’ll keep wandering around Target because it gives me some crazy positive feelings about the world…and families…and human nature. I need that in the wake of mass shootings and politics and the overall nature of social media. I need to just see people…living life…and doing their best. And I probably need more candles…
What is your guilty pleasure?