Saturday, September 17, 2011

Where are all the mommas?

From the Dallas Morning News, September 17, 2011

Julie Blair: Where are all the mommas? At Target, of course.
Photo: Evans Caglage / Staff Photographer

The stranger in aisle E31 had definite opinions about the size of my family. After surveying my three kids, she suggested I try for a fourth child. Doing so would eliminate the odd-man-out syndrome and “complete the set.” Even numbers are key for family harmony, she explained.

While I might have felt such a discussion was intrusive had it taken place at, say, a dinner party or a church function, this was Target. And it was Hot Momma Hour. So instead of being offended, I gave her take serious consideration.

These types of intimate conversations can be heard throughout the store between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Go on any day during this time slot and you’ll find dozens of mommas with their broods who’ve made the pilgrimage to the big box. They go not only for groceries but also in search of something more important: community.

The Target at FM2499 and Chin Chapel Road in Flower Mound has become a de facto country club for those of us staying at home with our children. It’s a place to find exactly what we need between the often lonely rituals of laundry duty and dishes. You can stock up on opinions about preschools, swim instructors and dance companies.

If you need to kvetch about nap schedules — or the lack thereof — you can do that, too. All you have to do is make eye contact with another woman who looks equally exhausted.

Moreover, you can go early: The store opens at 8 a.m., which feels like the middle of the day for those of us who’ve been awake since 5 a.m.

“I go to Target to find people like me,” said my gal pal Christine who lives in Flower Mound and often totes her twins to the store. “When my girls were little, I went in the early morning because I knew I’d always find other stay-at-home moms.”

While our town has a gorgeous, well-used community center and neighborhoods packed with young families with whom to play, Target offers an alternative.

The climate is a steady 73 degrees and fully shaded — you can’t say that for even the most engaging subdivisions.

Moreover, there is no need to clean up the playroom for company or even to brew a pot of coffee — you can get your fix at the Target Starbucks cafe.

My girlfriend Holly, also from Flower Mound, has gone so far as to take her husband and three boys to Target for a weekly play date on Sundays. There’s always something new for them to do in the toy aisle and friends to chat with, she said.

“It’s like religion,” Holly said, “except Target.”

If I were a glass-half-empty type, I would condemn the Target scene as evidence of a culture of consumption, a sad commentary on soulless suburbs designed for cars rather than connection.

Instead, I see the Hot Momma Hour as refreshing: It is a showcase of the strength and ingenuity of the human spirit in an age of technology.

Despite Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, despite drive-throughs and takeout, despite snarling highways and the absence of parks that keep us from one another, we remain committed to honest-to-God human contact.

We will still seek out and find the community we crave.

That, and a good deal on paper towels.

Julie Blair of Flower Mound is a freelance journalist and a Community Voices volunteer columnist. Her address is

1 comment:

Dr. Mom said...

I miss the FM Target. I'll never forget the day a dear clerk exclaimed, "Wow, your twins are getting so big!" Yes, we too sought sanity and a bit of community at Target.