Overpriced strollers and shopping local

A few months ago, when I first started blogging, I made a post called ‘Overpriced Strollers are Bullshit.” I still stand by that because I really do think overpriced strollers are well, bullshit. I can’t believe manufacturers and companies get away with charging $700 or more for a stroller. Nevertheless, I understand now why people buy them. If you use your stroller frequently or live in the city and are on buses a lot or have 2 or more children in a stroller, I understand the investment. I use my stroller 2-3 times a month so I could never justify paying that amount. But I appreciate why some people do.  I still think the price point is bullshit but I don’t actually think it’s bullshit that people want or need a good stroller.

My girlfriend recently gave birth to her second baby! He is so cute and squishy and adorable. She did a lot of research about what type of stroller she wanted and decided to go with the Baby Jogger City Select. After taxes, this bad boy cost her over $750! I know that is a lot of money but she has a two-year old and a newborn and will likely be using the stroller A LOT over the next 3-4 years. It made sense to invest in quality, and to also invest in a stroller that has an optional attachment seat that turns it into a double stroller.

When considering her purchase, she thought long and hard about what business she wanted to give her hard-earned money to. She decided to shop local and bought from a small retailer in HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality). This was so awesome to see! I am a huge supporter of shopping local and patronizing small businesses instead of big box stores. A $750 sale is a HUGE DEAL for a small business and a few of those a week would definitely add up. My friend was thrilled with her purchase and felt good about giving her business to a local speciality shop.

Fast forward to about four weeks later. Baby Jogger puts out a manufacturers promotion. The promotion said “Buy a Baby Jogger City Select and get the 2nd seat (which is the attachment to turn the stroller into a double) for free.” The attachment has a value of $250, which is a lot of money.

Naturally, my friend was let down. She had JUST bought the stroller not even a full month ago. She contacted the business to see if they could let her in on the promotion and they told her that her stroller didn’t qualify as it had a different SKU/Barcode on the box because of the color she bought . This didn’t sit well with my friend. The Baby Jogger City Select is a very specific stroller, how many barcodes could there possibly be? So she called the manufacturer and explained the situation. The manufacturer told her that the business owner was being dishonest and that the barcode on the colour she bought was eligible for the promotion. The manufacturer also explained that this was a promotion through the manufacturer, and would not cost the business anything. Just a bit of time and paperwork to get reimbursed.

At this point my friend was annoyed. She called back to the place of business and told them that Baby Jogger said that they should be able to give her the free seat with no issues/problems. The owner then (again) said that they were unable to because of the color difference and that they normally would within a reasonable time frame but couldn’t because of the difference in color/incorrect barcode. My friend then let them know that was not the case according to the manufacturer and that the manufacturer confirmed that the barcode was eligible for the rebate. Once they heard this they suddenly started to say that they couldn’t price match after a 14 day period. Yet their receipt does not say that anywhere. In fact, their receipt says that have a return policy that’s fair and logical. But when it came time to own up and do the right thing, they took a cop-out and said 14 days, even though that has never been stated anywhere before.

My friend ended up calling a few big box outlets to see what they would do in this case, and they all said they would make an exception. This is a woman on maternity leave with a brand new baby at home. I can’t imagine owning a business and not wanting to help a customer in that type of situation. Especially when the situation could have easily been fixed and would have cost the retailer nothing. Not one penny.

Before anyone reads this and thinks I am being incredibly biased, I want to clarify on a few things. I love shopping local. In fact, I don’t mind spending a few extra dollars to pump money into my local economy. But the one thing I HATE about shopping local, is that bullshit like this can happen and you have no higher-ups to go to. Local retailers are their own companies, therefore their own bosses. And that’s often to their advantage. I would say that 98% of small locally owned businesses go above and beyond for their customers. I eat breakfast at a small café nearly every weekend and I can tell you with 100% certainty that the business owners would do anything to keep their customers happy. Because your customers are your bread and butter.

But when customers are treated unfairly and with disrespect, it upsets me. Because my friend could have spent her money anywhere at all, and chose to give it to a small business. And instead of being thanked for it, she is essentially being punished because the business doesn’t want to make an exception. An exception that would cost them nothing other than a bit of time.  I can get over the fact that they aren’t willing to help her, but what I find particularly unnerving is the dishonesty, the lies and the inconsistency.

So friends, I ask you this. Research return policies and price matching policies thoroughly before you make a big purchase at a small business. I don’t want to discourage people from shopping local, because that’s not what this is about. I want you to continue to shop local and put money back into the economy of where you live. But I do ask you to be cautious, because you could end up losing out. Check Facebook reviews, talk to friends and go to the store a few times and see what the customer service is like before you make a purchase. If you determine that it’s a good fit then definitely shop local. But buyer beware; there are some small businesses who do not put their customers first.

With that being said, carry on with your overpriced strollers; I’ll be putting that $750 towards chocolate and wine!

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Give me back my baby!

A lot of my friends have had babies over the past few months. There’s something about looking at those tiny little faces and chunky cheeks and wisps of hair that makes my ovaries smile and long for another baby. Maybe someday, but I’d prefer to have Charlotte out of diapers before that happens!

I have noticed a lot of friends with new babies have been talking about people touching their babies without their permission. This happened to me a few times, and it was upsetting. I understand that people are drawn to babies. I totally get that. But babies have little to no immune system and don’t need to be exposed to your germs. I think most modern moms agree that touching without permission is a big deal and that people need to know that it’s not okay.

What annoyed me even more than that is when people would not give me back my baby.  Here’s the scenario: You go to a friend or family member’s house and everyone is waiting to hold your bundle of joy. You know that they’ve all washed their hands and are each patiently waiting their turn. Your little one starts making the rounds and by the fifth set of arms, they start to cry. The appropriate thing to do in this social setting is to pass baby back to mama. Look, I know everyone wants to be the baby whisperer but 99.999% of time, only mama can console a crying infant.  So, do the right thing and hand the baby over and let mommy calm them down. Once babe is settled you’ll all get your turn again. Sounds fair, right?

Well, that’s how it should play out. But sometimes it doesn’t exactly follow that plan. Once, when my daughter was still really small and I was still measuring her age in weeks, I brought her to visit some friends. The crowd was large, a little more than twelve people. I knew that it was going to be hard on both me and Charlotte but I also knew that these friends really wanted some quality time with the both of us, so I put on my brave face and started passing her around.

Surprisingly, she did really well. She slept through most of it and even the few times she did wake, she cooed at everyone and batted her big eyes. It was going smoothly and by the time she got passed into the last set of arms it felt like we were on easy street.

The last person to hold her started with the ‘advice’ right away. It was cringe worthy. She told me all of the things that she did for her kids and how I should be doing those things for Charlotte. I grinded my teeth and smiled through the pain and tried to politely nod my head. Her advice was really not worth listening to and was nothing I would ever consider, but I was trying to be polite.

Just then, Charlotte woke up. She instantly began to howl and I knew it was her hungry cry. I reached to take her back and Miss Know-it-all stood up and began to walk in the opposite direction. I wasn’t even sure how to react because I could not believe what was happening. I bit my lip and searched for the right words and said “I think it’s time she comes back with me, she’s hungry and needs to be fed.” I wanted to yell “Give me back my baby!” but I knew that would sound super rude.

So, she turned and looked at me and I waited for her to pass her over but instead she said, “No, she’s not hungry. She’s tired and needs help going back to sleep. I got this.”

I started seeing red in that moment.  Bitch, please. I have spent every hour of my child’s life by her side and I can decipher every one of her cries. She is hungry. Pass her over before I cut you.

I was so upset. I had no idea what to do. I wanted to yell at her but I also didn’t want to cause a scene. She had her back turned to me and was bouncing Charlotte, who was wailing at the top of her lungs. A few more seconds passed and I was on the verge of tears. Finally I said “I’m going to feed her now. Could you please pass her to me?” Miss Know-it-all passed her over but said, “I’m telling you, she’s not hungry. She’s still tired.”

I glared at her as I popped a bottle in Charlotte’s mouth and she anxiously began sucking. I was so angry in that moment. No one knows my baby as well as I do, and when she cries, I know the best way to fix it. How dare she question my motherly instincts?

I learned a lesson that day. I learned that it is perfectly okay for me to say “she needs mama right now” and to take her away from whoever has her. No one should ever try to keep your baby from you while they are crying. I know that everyone has good intentions and a lot of the time they think they are helping, but most of the time it’s just stressing mommy and baby out.

So the next time you’re out somewhere and someone won’t pass back your crying baby, be firm and polite. Tell them they can hold your baby once you’ve managed to soothe them. If you have a real gem on your hands (like I did with Miss Know-it-all) it might be better to get right to the point. They don’t get subtle cues. Say it loud and say it proud, “GIVE ME BACK MY BABY!”

Motherhood at its worst

Motherhood is full of magical moments. The moments where you smile to yourself and say ‘this is what it’s all about.’ The moments where you look at your child and your heart skips a beat because you can’t believe how much you love that little person.

But let’s be real. It’s not always magical and about 88.42% of what your child does is not Facebook worthy. You know, those moments where your kid has a complete meltdown or a dirty face or is just being a little asshole? Yeah, those moments. There are plenty of those moments.

Motherhood is often portrayed on social media at its best. A picture of a child giving mommy a kiss, a status about how little Sally did the cutest thing ever today, a tweet about two siblings hugging each other. That stuff does happen; but most of the time, that’s not reality. People like to show motherhood at its finest.

But no one ever shows the ugly moments. The moments that are hard and frustrating and overwhelming. The moments that could be described as motherhood at its worst.

So, what is motherhood at its worst?

It’s trying to ignore your crying baby in the middle of the night and praying they fall back asleep so that you don’t have to wake up.

It’s pooping with an audience because your child will have a meltdown if you shut the door and they can’t see your face.

It’s cleaning vomit off of the floor and desperately trying not to gag because the smell and look of it is absolutely disgusting.

It’s going for weeks on end with little to no sleep and wondering if you’ll ever be able to function like a normal adult again.

It’s cutting a onesie off your newborn baby because they just had an epic diaper blowout and there is no other way to remove their clothing without making more of a mess.

It’s pleading with your child to eat their veggies and then giving up and just letting them have chicken nuggets for supper.

It’s crying in the shower because you are so tired and overwhelmed and frustrated and have no idea how to handle everything on your plate.

It’s getting ready to take your child to the doctor and realizing that your only clean outfit is a sweater with a hole in it and yoga pants that have picks and pulls in them.

It’s bribing your kid in the department store with a toy so they will stop grabbing at everything and you can shop in peace.

It’s buying yourself a super delicious cupcake and then putting it away and devouring it after your child goes to bed. (True story, I am so guilty of this.)

It’s wanting to yell at your child for being a brat but somehow grinding your teeth and getting through that moment.

It’s trying to bake cookies for the school bake sale but burning them because you got caught up in an episode of The Walking Dead, so you buy a dozen at the bakery and hope that no one notices the difference.

It’s flipping your child off when they aren’t looking because they were acting like a total assclown.

It’s not remembering that it was pink shirt day at school and your kid tells you that you suck at remembering things and you can’t even argue that point because you know it’s true.

It’s being so busy that you forget to shave your legs and wear a dress to work with a national forest growing below your knees.

It’s desperately wishing that your child could be just a few years older so that things would be easier, even though we all know that it never really does get easier.

It’s being relieved to go to work because that means you get 8 uninterrupted hours of not having to answer to demanding children.

It’s staring at the clock and mentally calculating the hours till bedtime, and wondering how you are going to make it.

It’s drinking a glass of wine at night and hoping that tomorrow is better than today.

It’s looking at your children as they sleep and hoping that you do better tomorrow. That you can be a better parent for them and that you have all the patience and understanding in the world.

Social media sites are like optical illusions. We all want everyone to see us at our best. That’s why people don’t talk about motherhood at its worst. It the same reason why people will take 17 selfies and only post the best one. Because you want to be seen in the most flattering way possible.

Motherhood exposes us and creates incredibly raw emotions. There are highs and lows, ups and downs, good times and bad times, happiness and heartache. But even on the days when you are experiencing motherhood at its worst, you don’t give up. Because you love your kids and would do anything for them. And those times (that are sometimes few are far between) when you get to experience motherhood at its finest, those are the times that make it all worth it.

I’m grateful to be a single mom

Being a single mom was never a part of my plan. I had always envisioned getting married and buying a home and then making a family with my future husband. However, life threw me a curveball and my plans were drastically changed when my daughter was born and I became a single mother.

At first I was extremely overwhelmed. I had no idea what to expect with having a newborn and doing it on my own was tough. My parents were (and still are) an amazing support but there was a part of me that wished that I could be experiencing all of the things I felt with someone whom I loved and planned on spending the rest of my life with. There were moments when I was upset that I didn’t get to have things that way that I wanted them, but I chose to get over that. Because life unfolded for me in the exact way it was supposed to and I’ve come to realize that I am grateful to be a single mom.

Before I became a single mom I appreciated my family and friends. I knew I was extremely lucky and that having them in my life was a huge blessing. But when you really need people to stand by your side, you find out pretty quickly who matters the most to you.

Right away, I learned to appreciate my parents in a whole new way. They allowed me and my newborn baby to move back in with them, no questions asked. The welcomed me home with open arms and helped me in so many ways. I always have emotional and financial support from them and they are only too happy to babysit when I go to work or want to spend time with friends on the weekend. I get more support from my parents than some people get from their spouse. I can never thank them enough for all they have done and continue to do for me and my daughter.

My sisters supported me immensely, too. Even though we all live in different cities and provinces, they have always been there to encourage me, support me and lift me up. They are two of the most amazing women I know and I am thankful to have them in my life.

My extended family has been nothing short of amazing. My aunts and uncles and cousins have loved Charlotte from the moment they met her and have continued to be a wonderful and loving presence in her life. That in itself makes my heart so happy. But beyond that, my older cousin helped me land not one, but two jobs. She took me under her wing and made sure that employment opportunities fell into place for me. I can never repay the kindness that both her and her coworker/boss showed to me. It is because of these two fantastic ladies that I have been able to save for a house and land on my feet. There are no words for that. I will forever have a heart full of gratitude for both of them.

And my friends. My sweet, sweet friends. You all know who you are. You are the ones who were there for me from day one. I may not see you as much as I would like but please know that I love you and respect you and miss you more than words can say. Thank you for always being there for me and for helping me navigate my way through this crazy and fun adventure! I know that we don’t get to spend as much time together as we would like, but please know that there will be a day when I will get to see you more often and I promise that I will be treating you to dinner and lots and lots of wine!

While most people would not expect me to say this, I do have to thank my daughter’s father. He gave me the greatest gift ever and without him, I would not have my sweet baby girl. She is my Charlotte because of who she is. And without him, she would not be the perfect little angel that I love with all of my heart. And I’m lucky to say that Charlotte’s grandmother on her dad’s side is a special lady whom we are both incredibly lucky and thankful to have in our lives.

And above all, I am beyond grateful for my sweet daughter. She changed my life from the moment I knew. I knew that I wanted to do more and be better. She helped me get all of my priorities figured out and teaches me new things about myself every day. It is because of her that I have dreamed bigger, loved deeper and imagined more than I ever thought possible. She makes me want to be the best possible person I can be. She has taught me not only how to set goals, but also, how to achieve them. She is the best part of me and the person whom completes my heart.

So you see, being a single mom has changed my life in ways I can’t imagine. It’s helped me figure out my priorities. It’s helped me realize whom and what is important in my life, and it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world. I’ve come to realize that there is no such thing as a perfect family. All that matters is that you love each other and treat each other well. It’s that simple. Your family is the group of people whom you hold closest to your heart. You don’t need to be related by blood to call them family. It’s the people who showed up and stayed by your side when you needed them most. That’s what true family is.

I’m grateful to be a single mom. It’s been an absolute whirlwind of an adventure over these past fourteen month and it’s helped me prove to myself that I am strong and determined and can do anything I set my mind and heart on. Being a single mom is the hardest and best job I have ever had. It has brought so many people into my life and has opened so many doors for me. THIS is the life I was meant to live. It may not be perfect, but it’s perfect for me. I am so truly blessed.

Baby (and bitch) on board!

I used to have terrible road rage. I would yell at other drivers from behind the wheel, shout at pedestrians and cyclists and flip off people at every chance I got. Basically, I was the person you would see swerving in and out of traffic and acting like a total asshole. You probably called me a bitch once or twice if you encountered me in traffic, and I totally deserved it.

After I had a baby, my road rage disappeared. Suddenly I became that crazy nervous driver. I never used to understand it before, but I totally get it now. If you’ve never understood why the person in front of you who has the ‘Baby on Board Sign’, is driving like an asshole then please let me explain. You may not fully appreciate why they are driving that way, but at least you’ll have a slight understanding.

First of all, if someone has a Baby on Board sign, they are going to drive slower. That’s a fact. We have precious cargo in the vehicle and don’t want to take any risks. When my daughter is in the car with me I go at least 10 km/h below the speed limit. If she isn’t with me, I go at least 10 km/h above the speed limit. Really, I should just be obeying the speed limit at all times but when my baby girl is with me I take every precaution necessary.

Also, when she’s in the car, I slow down for everything. I slow down at every intersection whether the light is red, green or yellow. I slow down when the car in front of me even just taps their breaks and I especially slow down if I am going over railroad tracks or about to hit a pothole. I know I don’t drive a Lexus and don’t need to worry about damaging my Kia, but when the baby is asleep, I go about 2 km/h over potholes. I know it’s irritating and I know you are probably cursing me and saying things like “lady please, your car isn’t worth shit.” And that’s true! I get that! But what you may not get is that I just spent 45 minutes driving around trying to get my baby to sleep. And I will lose my mind if she wakes up. So if that means that I have to slow down for every pothole, bump and leaf on the road then I am going to do it and you’re going to have to deal with it or just flip me off.  Seriously though, go ahead, flip me off. I’d flip me off too. I honestly won’t mind if you do it.

Another annoying thing about the Baby on Board people is that they don’t seem to understand that green means go. I remember once in my pre-baby days I saw a woman at a red light who was turned around and trying to console a screaming baby while her toddler was pounding on the windows. I gave her a dirty look and thought to myself, ‘Get your shit together and go! The light just turned green!’ I really wish I could take back that asshole thought. Because I have tied up more green lights than I can count. I am constantly turned around at red lights trying to pick up toys and sippy cups and whatever else my daughter has thrown on the floor. Sometimes I think she just likes to play fetch with me and is testing me to see how many things I can pick up during a red light. It’s kind of like a red light challenge, like they do in Cash Cab (Canadian game show, folks!). Quite often people honk at me and I know that means that I need to haul ass and get a move on, but if baby wants her lalaloopsy doll and it’s on the floor, I am getting it. Because if I don’t get it, she will scream and howl till I get to the next red light or pull over. So, there’s another reason to flip me off.

As if that’s not annoying enough, Baby on Board drivers also play annoying music and sometimes have DVDs playing in their vehicles. Believe me; we don’t do this by choice. We do it to save our sanity. Do you really think any mother wants to listen to the Wiggles while she is driving? I would rather walk home in the pouring rain than listen to that crap but sometimes it’s not an option. So before you laugh at the parents with the ridiculous music or kids shows, know that they are just trying to survive their time on the road and sometimes survival means doing stuff that you don’t want to do!

I know the Baby on Board people can be annoying. I totally get that. Honestly, we don’t try to annoy other drivers, it just happens.  Next time you’re behind the wheel and see a Baby on Board sign, just know that it’s probably a mom or dad who is likely having a hell of a time getting from Point A to Point B with a child in tow. And if it happens to be me that you see and I’m driving like a train wreck, you have full permission to flip me off! Honestly, I won’t mind…. unless the baby isn’t on board with me, in which case, I’ll flip you off too, because sometimes there’s a bitch on board; and that’s me!

She’s just NOT that into you

When you become a new mother it can feel somewhat isolating. Your life gets turned completely upside down and your world starts to revolve around this tiny little person who eats, poops and cries a good chunk of the day. You want to socialize with people, but the evenings are tough because you are trying to establish a bedtime routine and during the day, most of your friends are at work.

So, you start looking for mommy friends. You cruise Facebook and join mommy groups who have regular play dates. It only takes a while and suddenly you are invited on your first mommy date!

This is a big deal. So many things are crucial. You want to make sure you’re on time and that you don’t come off too nervous or too eager. Date day comes and goes. And you think it went really well. You made sure that you were on time and you remembered everyone’s name and could even pronounce those baby names that you’ve never even heard before. But then you don’t hear anything for a day. And then it turns into two days, and then a week and then several weeks and then a month. What did you do wrong?

I don’t know specifically what you did or didn’t do during your play date, but I can guarantee that the following things will almost 100% ensure that another mom won’t want to spend time with you again:

Overdressing. By overdressing I don’t mean that you wore too many layers. No, what I mean is that you dressed up like you were going to a job interview. Most moms were probably sporting yoga pants, ponytails and sneakers. If you showed up to a park with flawless makeup, manicured nails and a power suit and heels, then there’s a good chance that the other mommies thought you were ridiculous and that you didn’t actually WANT to be in a park. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look nice, but you need to dress the part. Save your heels for date night or in the bedroom!

Out-doing everyone. Did your baby crawl at five months? That’s fantastic. Did they sleep through the night at two weeks? You’re one lucky lady. Do they take two really long naps every day? I’m jealous. But seriously, don’t brag about this stuff. Especially if another mom is pouring her heart out and talking about her struggles and how tired she is because her baby only sleeps for three uninterrupted hours at a time.  Listen to her and let her know that it will eventually get better. Do not try and out-do her and let her know how awesome your child is. Because she’ll start to wonder what she is doing wrong, and the truth is; she isn’t doing anything wrong. No two babies are alike.

Put your phone away!!! Nothing annoys me more than going to dinner with a friend and having them continuously check their phone and answer texts while I am talking to them. It’s rude and shows a lack of interest. When you’re on a play date, it’s about spending time with other moms and talking to them and getting to know them. You can’t do that if you’re looking at your phone every 3-4 minutes for Facebook updates. Seriously, put your phone away for an hour.  You and Facebook will both survive.

Terrorizing moms to be. If there happens to be a mommy-to-be at the play date with her cute pregnant belly, do not terrorize her with labor horror stories. Yeah, labor sucks. It’s not exactly a walk in the park but the end result is; you get to meet the love of your life. A first time expecting mom does not want to hear that you were in labor for 56 hours and needed 42 stitches and spent 8 days in the hospital. GTFO here with that. Tell her she’ll do amazing and that they have great drugs for pain.

Hot topics. There are some topics that you just never bring up with other moms. Do not, under any circumstances, offer your opinions on a hot topic during your first mommy date. You will, without a doubt, hurt someone’s feeling. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t agree with co-sleeping, vaccinations, extended rear-facing, breastfeeding or whatever else the topic may be. Stay neutral. Everyone is doing their best to raise their children in a way that works for them.  Which brings me to my next topic.

Don’t be a sanctimommy! If you see someone feeding their child with a bottle and you’re a huge breastfeeding advocate, don’t lecture them on the benefits of breastfeeding. I’m sure they know. And don’t act as if your way of doing things is the only way of doing things, because it’s not. There are tons of different parenting styles and every child is unique and different. If you start with that holier-than-thou shit you can bet your freshly manicured nails that those mommies will never want to see you or your power suit again.

If she’s not calling you, not returning your texts or not answering your Facebook messages, then there is a reason. Something went wrong and she’s just not that into you. It might be her or maybe it’s you. Whatever it is, it’s okay. You’re a new mom. You’re learning and growing. And guess what? So am I. And I might even be guilty of a few of these play dates faux pas. No need to panic. Have a glass (or bottle) of wine and consider it a lesson learned for next time!