Why oh why did I decide to go clothes shopping for myself with the baby and pram in tow? Why did I think that wheeling said baby around while I navigated the tight clothes rails, crowds, queues and small doorways was a good idea? Well I didn’t as it happens, instead it was a needs-must sort of situation, where I desperately needed a few essentials like a bloody jumper that actually fitted me and a new pair of Toms to replace the ones that have four holes in each shoe! I kid you not, they are my favourite pair, which I have literally worn to death, but the whole, toe sticking out of the tatty looking hole at the top, plus the new side rips cannot even be considered some kind of designer hole at this stage!
So off I set, bright and cheery after the little dude’s breakfast for Dundrum and my God as I drove there, I literally could not remember the last time I went shopping for myself. These days I seem to have swapped H&M, River Island, Zara and Penney’s for Smyths, Mothercare, Mamas & Papas and the baby section of M&S. And that’s fine, in fact, I adore buying clothes and toys for the baby, but as I drove toward Dundrum that day, I can’t tell you how excited I was to be going to browse in a few grown up shops with zero baby things to buy!
Oh how wrong I was.
I arrived and put the baby in his pram and off we went. It was a weekday morning so the place was practically deserted and the baby was in smashing form too with not a death roar in sight, yes I could feel the shopping Gods were on my side, it was as if they knew I really needed this small window of retail therapy before it was back to nappies, onesies and singing Bah Bah Black Sheep for the 400 hundredth million time.
So off I headed to H&M, one of my all-time favourite high street heroes. I rolled in full of the sort of swagger I hadn’t had for a long time and I proceeded to turn left and look at a red top that caught my eye.
I’d bashed into one of the rails as I tried to manoeuvre the pram between the tight rows.
‘Ops’ I said looking down at the baby. ‘Mammy needs L-Plates.’
Oh look at the gorgeous jumper, I thought to myself, as I pushed the pram toward it. But yet again, I got totally stuck between the rails and then right on cue my son had grabbed a pair of jeggings and pulled it right down on himself with this iron grip.
‘I’ll just put this back, little baba,’ I smiled as I tried to wrestle the jeggings away from my 8 month old baby with a McGregor-esque grip.
Hmmm, this wasn’t going to be that easy, I thought to myself.
Unperturbed, I carried on and brought my pile of potential purchases to the dressing room. There was no attendant on duty because it was a weekday morning, so I went in and then it suddenly struck me… there are no dressing rooms big enough for me and the pram. It’s not something I would ever have given a second thought to before I had a baby, but now that I did, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how the hell I was going to do this?
So I improvised, I went into the changing room and wheeled him as close to the door as I could and had to try the clothes on with said door wide open. The old Niamh would have been petrified of the thought of having to try on clothes with the door open, but these days that sort of thing didn’t bother me in that way, but it did bother me on completely different level.
‘I’m just going to park you here while I try this on little baba,’ I cooed down at my son. I looked up and saw another mum doing the extract same thing as me.
We glanced at each other, smiling with knowing look on our faces.
Why is this so hard? We were thinking.
Why the hell don’t shops cater for mums with prams?
‘It’s a nightmare isn’t it?’ she smiled. ‘I don’t even care anymore I just try stuff on with the door open’ she smiled as she grappled with trying on a top while trying to entertain her little girl who was looking up at her from the pram.
She was a breath of fresh air.
And while, it was true that trying clothes on with an open door wasn’t the worst thing in the world, I felt annoyed. Why should I have to be reduced to trying things on with the door open? Why can’t I have a bit of privacy to consider the clothes and look in the mirror, just because I have a pram with me? Why should I have to bare all because the store doesn’t have a dressing room large enough for prams?
The more I started to think about it, the more it annoyed me. I started to think of all my favourite high street haunts I would have gone to over the years happily trying on 6 or 7 things at a go, taking ages over each item and trying it on with different options and looking in the mirror. Trying stuff on with the pram? A whole different ball game. It’s a hurried mess where you barely get to throw the clothes on your back before you have to decide whether you want to buy it or not. And then it occurred to me that very few of these shops even had a dressing room for someone in a wheelchair let alone someone with a pram or double buggy.
Why the hell not?
Okay, going shopping with the pram is not ideal. Kids get bored, cranky, tired and hungry. They often don’t want to be there, but sometimes you don’t have any other option. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone else to mind the kids and you know what, sometimes mums just want to go and try on a bloody jumper while they are out and about with their pram without having to disrobe in front of the entire changing room!