It’s the oft-derided and under-appreciated, even occasionally called basic, stereotypical mom spot.
Saying you love Target is falling prey to every generalization in the book. Seriously, you might as well pile your hair in a top knot, shrug on some athleisure, pick up a PSL, and just be done with it.
I try to reject a lot of stereotypes and model strong, independent thinking womanhood for my daughters, but when it comes to Target, I don’t even try. I just go, and I take my daughter with me.
Well, it’s probably not what you think. It’s not a toy run or a bribe for good behavior. It’s not even because of my own affordable and extra-adorbs retailer predilections or my love of bargain hunting and dish towels bearing hip-hop lyrics.
It’s because I love her so much and I’m thinking about her future.
When my daughter was younger, I was a busy working mom with a corporate job. Weekends had to be devoted to double duty between quality time with my kid and keeping our household running smoothly. My husband would catch up on his own activities, and my daughter and I would find all kinds of things to do. On weekends, we were a team.
So, why Target and other places, whether amazing or mundane?
It started out of self-preservation. Places like museums and restaurant play-places were packed with other parents like me trying to make the most of their time with their kid. I can’t handle the cramped-ness of those places when everyone is trying to check off their parent-child-outing achievement for the week (no judgement—I’m frequently right there too).
So, we did that and playgrounds and parks, but honestly, some of our best times together are spent doing errands.
It’s the mundane everyday times when we are not keyed in on a swing or a set of blocks or the possibility of Netflix being turned on.
A trip to Target means time to chat in the cart, to talk about colors and shapes we see, to sequence which items we are going to pick up. A trip to a garden center is a chance to explore plants, textures, and colors. A trip to the grocery store is an opportunity to check out the textures of fruits and vegetables and discuss healthy options together. A trip to a craft store—well, that probably goes without saying—is an amazing opportunity for creativity and conversation.
When I transitioned from the idea of making the weekends all about her versus all about us, the errand time became so normal and yet so cherished.
I didn’t create an artificial space for us to be together where we were free from household cares and checklists. I just acknowledged my daughter’s existence as a member of our household who could contribute and enrich any activity. Errands weren’t something to shield her from or to try to complete when she wasn’t around.
Kids are natural explorers, whether they’re playing at a park, rinsing dishes, or pointing out the salt shaker that bears an uncanny resemblance to their aunt’s dog. My goal in including her in these errands is to make sure she sees the opportunity for curiosity and exploration in everyday things.
And, when she grows a little older, I hope the rapport we’ve built through these outings sticks with us. I hope we can continue to have our precious one-on-one time and conversations throughout the years she’s at home. Right now, they revolve around who was pretending to be a PJ Mask on the school playground or which friend we might invite for a play date.
However, the foundation we build now will keep the door open for later conversations about peer pressure, gender roles, crushes, and other topics (sex, drugs, and rock and roll—eek!) that can be difficult to talk about as kids grow older.
So, I take my daughter to Target—and occasionally to other stores too—not because I have to, but because I want to. I want her right there with me now, so she’ll want me right there with her later.