Me? I’m a Gen-X working mom of two. Like most of us, I can’t reach my belly button with one arm around the small of my back, and I like my skinny chicken lips, so I’m starting a new challenge—one a little more appropriate for us middle-aged moms who can’t stop guffawing at the narcissistic and stupid antics that come with American reality culture.
It’s called the #targetchallenge.
Let’s be honest. Like any mom, I love Target. Target loves me. They love any mom like me who loves Target just a little too much. I mean, I used to spend my lunch breaks there, poking around aimlessly and piling my cart sky-high.
Then one day, I got a RED card—to “help my school.”
That was a bad decision. That’s what got me where I am today.
So now, I’m taking control. I’m reclaiming myself, who I was before I lost myself in Target one too many times.
I hopped in my car armed with my returns. On the drive there, I summoned the strength and fortitude I knew I’d need to get through this seemingly feeble attempt to make my returns and leave empty-handed. I knew this wasn’t for the faint of heart.
I prepped myself for not craning my neck to scope out the dollar section. I knew better than to let my eyes wander over to the jewelry section, where that chunky red floral necklace I’d been eyeing for the last few weeks was still hanging, wantonly, with a red clearance sticker on it.
And I was never more relieved to remember that the home decor department was, lucky for me, still located way in the back of the store, safe from me and my pillow plumping hands.
I parked my car, and for once, I didn’t even need to remember where—I knew I wasn’t going to be long this time and would soon return, memories of my parking spot still crisp and clear in the annals of my brain. I grabbed an empty shopping cart, stood up straight, took a deep breath, and walked into Target with my bullseye bag chock full of returns:
-A puddle jumper my daughter didn’t use over the weekend
-A mason jar I bought on impulse (to hold my pens and pencils in the kitchen, or to use as a toothbrush holder—I actually can’t quite recall what I was leading with at that moment in time)
-An American flag shirt my son didn’t end up wearing on the Fourth
-A tank top that proved to be too big (I bought it to look more like a dress—didn’t pan out as I had hoped)
-An Orla Kiely floral yoga bag I had bought on a whim (I don’t even do yoga—do I even have to in order to use this thing? I think not)
-Two frigging AMAZING floral Threshold throw pillows that I just couldn’t seem to smuggle into the house without my husband seeing (I’m trying to overcome a bad throw pillow addiction)
I stood in line. I caught my mind wandering to the back of the store, thinking about the cute floral patterned lamp I had seen last week. Then, I saw a super cute chevron ottoman sitting on the return counter. It looked a little lopsided. I wondered if it was marked down because of its flaw, but knew better than to ask. Just look away, Kerri. Just look away.
Before I knew it, it was my turn. Time to cash in the goods. One by one, the cashier rang up my returns, and the dollars started piling up. Had I really spent that much on these few things? What was I thinking?!
She commented on how cute my pillows were. I (quickly) thought I was crazy for returning them. I mean, really, they are so cute, aren’t they? Who buys pillows this cute, and then returns them?
Evidently, I do. I felt proud.
She asked if I had seen the new coordinating Threshold lamps that just came in last week, and pointed to one behind her.
I met her eyes, nodded pleasantly, even though it was a lie. No, no I hadn’t seen them. Should I go look? No, I better not.
She asked if I wanted a gift card instead of cash. Tempting, Target. Coy. Smooth move. I declined.
She handed me my return receipt, and just like that, it was over.
And, guys, do you know what happened?
Despite the smell of Starbucks on my left and the new striped leather notebooks I saw being shelved but a few feet away on my right, I pushed my empty red cart aside and exited the building a free woman.
I did a little song and dance in my head (it went something like this: “I have no bags, I have no cart, I have no bags, I have no cart”).
Without any bursting bags or a heavy cart to push, I for once had full use of all my free-swinging limbs and appendages, allowing me to get to my car as quickly as possible.
My car. Yes, there it was! Finally, I remembered! It had only been 4 minutes since I was here last.
I saw another mom, shoving pillows and an Orla Kiely suitcase (with really cute little cars on it!) into her trunk. She was struggling. She was sweating. Her kids were crying. I felt her pain, her struggle. We made eye contact quickly. I gave her a supportive smile. I was once her. It’s a hard life. But a life we don’t have to lead.
So, all you moms out there—I dare you to try the #targetchallenge. Take a photo of your empty Target cart and your smiling face, and hashtag that. I dare you to get in, get out, and get on with your life. The choice is yours.