Thanks to the largess and generosity of my baby-having friends, Charlie has been set for wardrobe up to this point in his life. The dapper hand-me-downs and fresh apparel from his baby showers have kept me from having to really invest in or think much about his clothing. Andy and I completed the bulk of our registry before we knew if we were having a girl or a boy, because we wanted to give our child at least a couple months of freedom from the confines of gender expectations. Fortunately, there are enough people who wait to find out the sex of their baby that you can actually purchase gender-neutral infant gear. We registered for lots of turquoise stripes, cream-colored onesies, and duckie apparel. Well, Charlie is barely squeezing into his 12-month pants now. This means that my outfit stockpile is gone.
The other night, I had to stop at the labyrinthine Target in Columbia Heights to pick up some diapers (as we were in between deliveries from the glorious honest.com), formula (since the stockpile of breast milk in the freezer had run out and I’ve been working long days), bottle brushes (because you’re apparently supposed to get new ones every 30 days. Wut?), and a couple pairs of stretchy baby pants (because I’d been squeezing him into the 9-month size, and that’s not going to fly for much longer.)
It turns out that once you move into size 12 month and up, the clothing manufacturers expect that you’re well acquainted with the gender identity of your child and that you really want to drive it home in the form of your apparel choices. My pants options for Charlie in the boy section were grey or blue, or a multi-pack of both grey AND blue. If I’d wanted to buy him tops, I would be able to select from an array of red or blue t-shirts with pictures of oversized vehicles on them.
I checked out the pants in the girls’ section. Mostly pink, natch, but I spotted some yellow stripes and blue polka-dots in the mix. Victory! Except, wait, these have lace and bows and shit all over them. And if Charlie decides he’d like some lace flair by the time he’s old enough to pick out his apparel, I’ll support him; but I don’t want to be That Mom Who Dresses Her Infant Boy Like a Girl to Make a Political Statement. Nor do I want to be the mom who buys all the Truckasaurus apparel before my son even understands that machines are a thing because he’s a boy and that’s what boys are into. Why can’t I just buy my baby some fucking pants without it having to be a whole thing?
I swear to God, I was in this Target for an hour, with a goodly portion of that time devoted to the pants conundrum. Yes, part of that conundrum was due to the fact that I didn’t know this Target had an upstairs and I couldn’t figure out where the baby stuff lived, but still. My tiny child already has an overly abundant selection of grey and blue apparel from the Junior Civil War Reenactor Collection, so I was really hoping to branch out. Can someone provide me with some beige? Or at least that light grey that’s less militant looking? It became an exercise in finding the least offensive pants.
In the end, I went with some black leggings from the toddler girls’ section. They were meant to be paired with a frilly pink dress. They were $5. I know if I were willing to drop some cash, Charlie could be a stylish individual, independent of society’s expectations. And I could support all the small businesses and be a better human. But I wasn’t gonna spend more than $12.50 on baby clothes that night, so that’s on me. When Charlie and I are rich, we’ll shop on Etsy and be fabulous. Until then, we’re pairing our black leggings with our red Truckasaurus tees and feeling okay-ish about it.