Aya loves shopping. Whether she buys anything or not, it doesn’t matter, she loves going out and browsing and shopping. She loves an all-day shopping marathon that includes visiting a minimum of a thousand stores and stopping for her latte. And after all that “shopping”, she might come home with nothing and still be happy. I on the other hand, am not a huge fan, especially when we are out all day and I come home empty handed. It seems like such a waste. I’ll talk myself into buying things just to feel a sense of accomplishment. And with me doing the bulk of Christmas shopping this year, I was trying not to get overwhelmed. Not only was I going to one of the busiest malls a week before Christmas, but I was also bringing my baby.

Ellie and I headed to the 12 Oaks Mall for a do or die final Christmas shopping extravaganza. This was going to be the longest I had Ellie out by myself without a fresh boob around. All of my excursions with her are timed around feedings times, diaper changes, and naps. My goal is to never have to feed her the bottle while we are out, because she is kind of a bottle snob where she won’t drink it if it’s not warm enough. Every time I get hot water at a restaurant to warm it up, it just doesn’t work and she pushes it away. But with this trip, I knew I was going to have to bring a bottle. 

Since I was mentally prepared for this trip, I was feeling positive. I really did want to enjoy this. My day out with Ellie at the 12 Oaks Mall. But when we arrived there were some obstacles for my good mood. This mall is a good 45 minutes from my house and I had consumed a full travel mug of coffee during the drive. So when we got there, I had to go! I never realized this before, but I don’t think I’ve ever used a mall restroom before, besides at the food court. I think maybe because it’s hidden. It took me twenty minutes to find it. I kept passing it because I was looking for a sign that said “restrooms.” Little did I know they were hidden down secret hallways with armed guards. I packed extra diapers and clothes for Ellie, but I didn’t think I would need any for myself. 

After I went, it was time to wrestle Ellie on one of those baby changing stations. I’m a rookie with those things. I’ve always changed her in my truck when we go out. But with this being a long outing, I knew I was going to have to do it inside. Changing her diaper was like mud wrestling a pig on a small operating table. This was going to be a long day.

With round one of diaper changing accomplished I was ready to shop. I wanted to go to the GAP, but this mall has only one store directory that they also keep hidden, so I had to roam the mall just to find it. I was pushing a stroller and holding Ellie because she wanted to see the action.  

I’m normally an excellent gift giver. I usually have no problems deciding what to get people, but this year I couldn’t think straight. I must have looked like an idiot walking through the mall with a puzzled look on my face holding a smiley baby. Everything I saw was a possible contender as a gift. Ooh, the EZ Cracker! Blanket in a bag! Towels, blenders, coffee pots, socks, sweaters, electric coffee cups, all were on-sale and all seemed like great ideas! But I couldn’t decide, so I passed on it all.  

The one good thing about walking around the mall holding a baby was that those kiosk salespeople avoided me like I had a disease. You know those people that come up to you and try to get you to buy hair extensions, embroidered baseball hats, or rhinestone jewelry. They are normally aggressive and pushy, especially around the holidays, but they wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. One year, I was walking through the mall and this lady came up, grabbed my hand and started talking while polishing one of my nails. I was stunned and the only thing I could think of was, who is this lady and why is she holding my hand. After her spiel, I looked down and one of my nails was sparkling shiny. I thought it was the most amazing gadget and bought one. It turned out it wasn’t that amazing because both Aya and my mom already had one and weren’t that excited about it. But for the next two weeks I would look down at my one shiny nail and think, wow, so shiny.

I wanted to have lunch at a restaurant instead of the food court because I needed a bowl of hot water to heat up Ellie’s bottle. I was hoping to beat the lunch rush, but since it took me another twenty minutes to find the place, we arrived right at the busiest time. Being a dude with a baby does have its perks. The hostess kept commenting on how cute Ellie was and kept flirting with us. She was also very accommodating to me with the stroller. I felt like I got extra attention because of Ellie and the stroller. But then the waiter guy approached the table with a look on his face that said “aw man… I got the table with a dude and a baby.” When I asked for a bowl of hot water to heat up her bottle, he brought back a coffee cup filled with hot water instead. Needless to say, Ellie had snacks instead of her bottle.  

Since I was just wandering around, I really didn’t keep track of what we looked at or where we were, but all I knew was that I saw a Mrs. Field’s Cookies earlier and I wanted one. We spent another twenty minutes looking for that place. Then we wandered down the secret hallway for round two of diaper changing. I eventually purchased some appropriate gifts when I walked through one of the department stores. Finally, I could see the end. Ellie was finally getting tired, as was my arm from holding her, so I decided to gather my final purchases and exit out.  

It turned out to be an almost all-day excursion by the time we got home. It seemed Ellie had her mom’s shopping genes because she was all refreshed and happy as if she herself got the EZ Cracker. But then again, I would probably feel the same way too if I was carried, changed, and repeatedly told how cute I was while shopping. I on the other hand, was beat up, exhausted, and wanted to take a nap, but at least I could declare: mission accomplished… and I got my cookie.

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