BABY OFF BOARD

BABY OFF BOARD -

Why I Go to Trader Joe’s

by Kate Reed

Yeah. I don’t have time for this.

There are three major grocery stores within 0.75 miles of my apartment: a Whole Foods, a Shaw’s, and a Trader Joe’s. The Whole Foods is closest, incredibly nice, and, of the three, easily the most expensive for what we tend to buy. The Shaw’s is the largest, has a liquor store in it, and has the traditional layout that most of us know (think Publix or Kroger’s). I go to Trader Joes.

The Trader Joe’s is only slightly larger than my apartment (which is about 400 square feet), has an escalator leading down to the main floor, doesn’t have everything we need all the time, and boasts a gridlocked conga checkout line that snakes through 70% of the store after 11a.m. on the weekends.

So why do I go to Trader Joe’s?

There are no children.

This is obnoxious. Trader Joe’s doesn’t have them.

It could be that the escalator prevents strollers from reaching the main floor. Maybe its small size and resulting crowdedness means that any tot present would be whacked an average of 3 times per visit by a stranger’s bag, cart, or basket. Maybe the lack of a bathroom makes it less appealing for quick stops.

Whatever the significant variables may be, bless them! I can hurry as much as I want and not worry about trampling someone’s precious snowflake. I can round corners quickly and not encounter some sub-shopping-cart-height obstacle careening in the opposite direction of traffic. I’m not keen on the idea of having children, but this doesn’t mean that I take an “it’s them or me” stance. But bopping a child with your cart is seldom worth the trouble it causes.

I can also use whatever swears I want without incurring dirty looks. For example, let’s say that you discover that they have eliminated all the lower priced sandwich meat to make room for high end Columbus brand pastrami – time for a swear! Or, they’ve decided that tart frozen yogurt is a seasonal item and now is not that season – I’ll be damned if I let that go without expressing my feelings.

Thank goodness for the inconvenience of Trader Joe’s. May your aisles always stay cramped; may you never get a luxurious elevator; and may your shelves never ring with the wailing of toppled children.

Kate Reed is Aurora’s friend and sometime blog contributor. She is a Southern transplant living in New England. She graduated from a major university in 2008 and struggled with the rest of her class to find work and purpose in the “real world.” There were some lean times, but she and her boyfriend now have good, full time jobs and are enjoying the luxury of not squeezing the daylights out of every penny and worrying about things other than the rent (like getting back in shape…). The question of purpose is still prominent, but Kate likes the idea of speaking out for fellow-minded women. When she isn’t working or writing, Kate likes to run (as much as New England will let her), bake dog treats, and paint.

You Know What They Say About Assuming…

by Kate Reed

One of the most prominent social rules in the United States is that you never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever assume that a woman is pregnant. Never. No good can come from it. Guessing successfully gets you nothing, guessing wrong means insulting a woman in a multitude of ways, and both scenarios roughly equate to saying, “Gee, you look fat.”

We all know how to react to this intrusion. It is carte blanche for disgust, disdain, and stunned silence; few among the ranks of women have the selfless politeness to refrain from showing at least one of these.

But what does it mean when someone assumes that you have children? The reasons for assuming that someone is pregnant are usually pretty obvious, but the reasons for assuming a woman is a mother are a little more subtle. A little more open to interpretation.

A few years back I was leaving my apartment building with Boyfriend on Mother’s Day. There was nothing special about how we were dressed. I wasn’t carrying flowers or a gift. Then a member of the concierge staff wished me a happy mother’s day as I walked by.

I stopped and looked at her and told her that I didn’t have any children. Trying to recover from her gaffe, she wished me a happy future mother’s day. I told her that I did not want children and kept walking, too stunned to really do anything else. What made her think I had children? Really, what makes it okay to assume this?

If this ever happens to you, you’re going to be immediately bombarded by every bald-faced stereotype you hold about motherhood. Did I look like I’d had a child? (Read: Did I look like I hadn’t lost the baby weight?) Did I look tired? Were there stains on my clothing? I wasn’t wearing a wedding or engagement ring – did I look like an unwed mother? Did I really look old enough to have children?

I mean seriously – it’s not like I was pushing a stroller or wearing an elementary school sweatshirt or happily waving about my Mother’s Day card. I was maybe 23 when this happened. The answers to these questions remain elusive as the woman didn’t hold her position long and I lacked the crassness to confront her about it.

Shockingly, this story is only one of three that happened in quick succession that season. Suffice it to say that my goat had been gotten.

There is, of course, another very important point to consider: Why is it okay to assume that I want to have children? It certainly wouldn’t be okay to assume that a man wants children. No one would dare wish an un-child-escorted man a happy Father’s Day. And for that matter, would you ever wish someone, unbidden, a happy Grandparent’s Day? (This point was where my mother relented her position that I was being over-sensitive about the whole thing.)

I think that this equation of women with motherhood is something that we’ll spend a lot of time exploring on this blog. The more I think about what to write here, the more I believe that this assumptive algebra is at the heart of the blowback that we, the elective childless, suffer.

Until then, I hope this uncomfortable evaluation isn’t something you have to endure. Like any kind of objectification, the assumption that a woman wants to be a mother is unsettling and limiting. I look forward to a time when this behavior is as openly reviled as calling a woman fat. I mean, asking if she’s pregnant.

Kate Reed is Aurora’s friend and sometime blog contributor. She is a Southern transplant living in New England. She graduated from a major university in 2008 and struggled with the rest of her class to find work and purpose in the “real world.” There were some lean times, but she and her boyfriend now have good, full time jobs and are enjoying the luxury of not squeezing the daylights out of every penny and worrying about things other than the rent (like getting back in shape…). The question of purpose is still prominent, but Kate likes the idea of speaking out for fellow-minded women. When she isn’t working or writing, Kate likes to run (as much as New England will let her), bake dog treats, and paint.