Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .

CS Lewis

Until this point, I credit two things with my suburban survival: self care and Target.  Two weeks ago, the two collided beautifully as I got my hair done and bantered with my new stylist.  After opening up to each other about breastfeeding struggles, how we trick our toddlers into eating, and the loss of identity when you’re “just a mom” for the first time, she bashfully posed a question to me.

“Do you ever, like, just go to Target. At night. After the kids are asleep.  And just sort of walk around?”

“Oh man, I thought I was the only one!” I said, mentally noting that this woman was a strong candidate for BFF status.

I didn’t give this exchange much thought until last Thursday when I went to Target. At night. After M was Asleep. And I just sort of walked around.

The store was full of more BFF candidates: zombie moms, wandering the aisles as hapless as I was.

All zombie moms have a tell.  I swear – it’s like playing poker – you learn what to look for pretty quickly.  Watch for the chick with a nearly empty cart, gently rocking it back and forth, with no baby to soothe.  It’s an automatic action we all do without thinking.  And I sort of love that.

There’s a quiet companionship amongst the weary late night moms, shared in half smiles as we pass each other in the diaper aisle. It’s mama’s night off, but we can’t help but remember the needs of our littles.   It’s a smirk as we see the other women toss socks or underwear into the cart for the men waiting at home, knowing that we, too, have to buy underwear for our husbands if we don’t want them going out with giant holes around their waist bands or on the balls of their feet. It’s the sick rush we get from that extra bottle of clearance nail polish – a little luxury tossed into the carts for ourselves.  It’s the sneaky rush from buying Starbucks in the lobby and knowing it shows up on the visa bill as “Target” and not Starbucks (helllooooooo ginormous, caffeinated friend).  And the shared appreciation that Target all but rolls out the red carpet for weary mamas like ourselves.

Somedays it feels super isolated to be a stay at home mom.  After the umpteenth episode of Handy Manny, the second time folding the same basket of laundry, and the third reminder that (insert heavy, breakable object) shouldn’t be thrown across the living room, I get a little frustrated and weary.  And in those moments I struggle with defining who I am, not by what I do (or, most days, don’t do), but by who I am. 

My late night Target adventures  remind me that I’m not the only one. So here’s to you, fellow Target moms.  May the clearance rack yield cute tops and the baby stay asleep so you’re not summoned home before your batteries are recharged.