That Time I Tried on Swimwear with my Toddler at Naptime


It’s an unspoken rule.

You don’t try on swimwear with your kid(s) in tow without backup. You just don’t.

A spoken rule: you definitely don’t try to do anything for yourself at nap time. It’s a recipe for screaming and crying and frustration, and I don’t just mean for you.

But, rookie mom that I am, I broke not one but two rules at once.

Strolling through Target (isn’t there another rule about that?) with Moira in the cart, I notice the swimsuits are on sale. I want to try out the jacuzzi at our rental, but I don’t own a swimsuit currently. So, I grab a few pieces ignoring their prices, willing them to flatter my curves. The 1-year old seems fine. I plunge ahead to the dressing room.

Immediately upon removing my clothes and getting halfway inside a strappy top, my 1-year-old loses her ever-loving mind.

I try to distract her while she’s in the cart so I can hurry my way through a few suits. She’s not having it. So I put my wants on hold for a moment (what else is new) and try to nurse her. Nope. No interest. I speak soothingly to her. I set her down. I let her sit in the big part of the cart. No dice. I pick her up and stand up and shush her like I did when she was new and squishy and oh so fussy. It seems to work, so I worm my way into this top pushing my milk jugs heavenward and inward. I struggle to adjust the straps. While holding a mildly pacified 16-month old who squirms and whines ever louder.

Because I enjoy breathlessness and rug burns from too tight clothing, I try on two more suits.

Tops and bottoms. I realize that my daughter hasn’t napped today despite our many car rides and time in our Ergo nursing and walking. And it’s that magical noonish hour when all babies hate the world and want you to know it.

I give up. These suits don’t fit. They push out all my cellulite, which I’m comfortable owning but not necessarily flaunting. I feel like that mom who’s trying too hard to seem young and tiny. And then I hear it. The hushed annoyed tones of two women in a dressing room near mine. They’re tired of hearing my toddler scream. I feel the heat of shame rush into my face and anger bubbling in my belly. I consider yelling at them. I want to sit and cry with my toddler.

Instead, I tug on my clothes, strap Moira to my body, and leave without a word.

I wish there was a redemptive ending to this story. I wish I realized the women were gossiping about something else. I wish I didn’t feel like I had to apologize to the world for my daughter’s voice. But I do. I never actually apologize for her volume because my voice was so often hushed and ignored and passed over in adolescence and childhood; I can’t bring myself to force my baby into the same social norms that still inflict shame on me.

So this is my roundabout way of saying a few things:

  1. Can we all agree to acknowledge that children exist in our worlds? Can we all have a little sympathy for the struggling parent or caretaker? Can we put our convenience aside once in a while for them?
  2. Don’t ever apologize for your child having emotions or opinions or a voice. Not in Target. Not at others’ homes. Not even in church.
  3. Do yourself a favor, and don’t try 0n swimwear with your toddler without really good backup. 
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I am a Flagstaff local from toddlerhood. I went to FALA for high school and graduated from NAU with a BA in Secondary English Education. I married my high school sweetheart, and together we’re building our life with our toddler Moira, whom I stay at home with full time. My passion is working with pregnant people during their journey to and through birth and post partum as a birth doula and birth photographer, and I work with another doula in town to provide those services to the Flagstaff community. I dance and perform with a Modern Dance company several times a year, and I teach baby & me music and dance classes around town weekly. I enjoy reading, hiking with friends, and playing Zelda in my spare time.