We are off to a great start with the new budget but I am already itching for a new outfit. It is 2 weeks into January and I am trying to figure out ways to feed my shopping bug that is still responsible. I had some returns to make at Kohl’s from Christmas last week. It was well before naptime so everyone was in great spirits as we waited in the customer service line. The girls were all put together in their new boots from Christmas and hair in ponytails. They entertained the people around us with some songs… “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow!” … aw- they're adorable! So far, yes. I shuffled through my wallet and found 2 very old Kohl’s gift cards. I had no idea of their value or where I got them. Also with my receipts, I had some “Kohl’s cash” that expired a few days earlier! Darn it.
I got to the counter and set the return items up there. The woman at the counter asked if I wanted the store credit or money back on my card. This was the first moment of truth and I made the responsible choice- “put it back on my card, thanks.” Then I asked her to scan the 2 gift cards I had.. to discover a balance $9 and $11. Then, out of my comfort zone, I asked, “Can you do anything to reactivate this Kohl’s cash?” She took them from me and waived her magic wand over them. (AlakaZam! Poof!) She said, “They are worth $20 again and expire today.” Free money! $40 in free money! Yippee! “Let’s Go Girls! Mama needs a new shirt!”
At that moment, the tide started to turn… Mea had to go the bathroom. This is typical- on the way in and out of every place we ever go. “Okay, let’s go to the bathroom… then… are you guys gonna help me pick out a new shirt?!” We make it to the back corner of the store where the restroom is, park the cart and get into the restroom. Everyone goes into their own stall… I am a proud mom with two very independent little ones. Then I start to hear some groans and whining and Eva says, “Mom, I am peeing my pants.” Whhaat!? No, Why? No. Why? How are you peeing your pants?... and your panties and your boots and your scarf and all over the floor! Eva is almost 3 and this is not ordinary business. So I start the clean up process the best way I can think- strip her down from the waist down. I wrap paper towel around the pile of pee soaked clothes. I start to wipe the floor as some employees come in. They offer help and I tell them I cleaned it up the best I could but it needs a mop or disinfectant spray or something. At that point, I basically bathe Eva in the sink with the pump soap. I rinse her, dry her off and wrap her bottom half in my big scarf and get her back into the cart. I try not to show the shame as my mind replays calming mommy mantra: “It’s no big deal…just an innocent child’s accident. It happens… part of having kids.” I thank the employees and (finally) leave the bathroom.
Now some people would call it a day with a bag full of urine soaked clothes and a kid wrapped in a scarf. Not me… remember, I have a free $40, and half of it was expiring today. So, I am still going to shop- gosh darn it! “Girls, I’m going to pick out a shirt and then we are leaving. Stay in the cart. Cooperate.” My days of leisurely browsing and trying things on are long gone. In 5 minutes, I grabbed something that is “good enough/hope it fits” and we were off to the register. Whining started as soon as we departed from the bathroom… “I’m hungry… her foot it touching me…I need water… I wanna get out...” Now, I am disheveled and sweating and nobody’s hair is in ponytails anymore. They are crying, I am yelling. I get to the register and it just so happened to be the same employee who helped clean up Eva’s pee in the bathroom. I threw the sweater on the counter with my old gift cards and free money. She glanced over at my scarf-wrapped kid and said, “That will be $1.25.”
I got an (almost) free sweater (that was originally $67) at the expense of looking like white trash. Is this the part of the sacrifice of being financially responsible? Was it worth it? You be the judge.