ShelahEddie is home this weekend and I had the uncommon pleasure of going shopping this morning without my little assistants....

Eddie is home this weekend and I had the uncommon pleasure of going shopping this morning without my little assistants. It's funny how relaxing a trip to Sam's Club and Wal-Mart can be when you're by yourself instead of chasing, corralling, and coaxing a four- and a two-year-old to cooperate in the store.

It seemed like luck was on my side this morning, because I pulled up at both places to see jam-packed parking lots. It is the day before the 4th of July, after all, and everyone in Minnesota seemed to be coming out of the woodwork (or in our case, just out of the woods) to buy fireworks. As I was scanning the lot at Sam's Club to find a place to park the minivan, I saw the beautiful sign, "Mother-to-be Parking Only" marking off an empty spot. As luck would have it, there was another "Mother-to-be" spot right in front of Wal-Mart (when all of the other available spaces were at least two football fields away from the doors).

I'm interested in the rationale of Wal-Mart/Sam's Club and other stores like them (I think "Babies R'Us" is another one) that have the expectant mom's parking spaces. In some ways, I chalk it up to a shameless way to entice pregnant women into their stores. At Babies R'Us and Wal-Mart in particular, I'd guess that getting pregnant women on their good sides might make them more likely to spend big bucks on baby gear at those stores. On the other hand, those signs might offend the non-pregnant customers (why should the preggos get all of the good parking spaces?) and non-pregnant people must make up a much greater share of the clientele, especially at Wal-Mart.

I understand why senior citizens might need spaces close to the front. They often have a hard time walking. For most pregnant women, a walk of a few extra yards would be beneficial, not detrimental, right? I mean, we end up walking all over the store, right? The baby section at Wal-Mart always seems to be located in the back corner of the store, right?

Since I wasn't using all of my brain cells to concentrate on keeping extra junk food, toys and DVDs out of my cart (usually the case when I go shopping), I spent a lot of time thinking about these special parking spaces for pregnant women. I've come to a conclusion--we don't need them. Sure, they're nice. They're one of the few perks associated with feeling crappy, gaining a ton of weight, and looking like we swallowed a watermelon. In fact, I'm sort of sheepish about using them until I look like I've swallowed a watermelon. A couple of months ago, when I was still wearing my regular clothes, Eddie and I went to Wal-Mart to buy a bike. I was three or four months pregnant at the time, and we arrived at the store during a downpour. One of the "expectant mom" spaces was available near the front, but Eddie wouldn't park in it because he didn't think I looked "pregnant enough." So do the parking lot police demand a bulging belly, an ultrasound picture or a positive home pregnancy test before we're allowed to use the spaces? Of course not, but we trudged to and from the store through the pouring rain to keep up appearances. Anyway, I digress.

For one thing, the parking places don't really save us from walking from the middle of the parking lot. After I got all of my groceries loaded in the van this morning, I realized that I still needed to walk to mid-parking lot to put my cart away.

Second, I'd much rather have a parking place reserved for me near the front for the nine months after a baby is born than for the nine month before it arrives. Those infant car seats are HEAVY! It's much harder to lug them from the back of the lot than it is to waddle from the back 40 with the baby still inside.

Third, I'm not sure that I want to use all of my clout as a pregnant woman on a parking place. I'd much rather walk from the back of the lot and have someone come with me to load my groceries in my car. Or better yet, arrive home in the garage and have my husband and kids dash down to the van to unload it instead of lugging several hundred pounds of groceries up the stairs myself. I'm sorry, but the pregnant parking place is just not enough to satisfy me.

Until next week,

recommended for you