Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I had a whole $46 to spend yesterday. I made a list of things I wanted and needed to get. Some of them involved a new shirt for me, new jammies, stuff for Camilla, and other miscellaneous items. John let me have a few hours to myself so I could get these items without towing 4 kids around with me. I did take Camilla, however, so I could nurse her. My first stop was Target - I wanted to get the most exciting things first. A new article of clothing is something I am rarely able to afford and so it became my first priority.

I searched through the clothing aisles and grabbed four different shirts. I went to the dressing room with the four shirts and Camilla in hand. I tried on a shirt. It could work but Camilla called for my attention as she began to fuss. I decided the fitting room would be a perfect place to nurse her so I sat down, relaxed, and fed her. As I fed her I could hear a mom talking to her little girl, maybe of 4 years, in the dressing room next to mine. "That looks nice mom." I could hear the little girl say. "I like your new boots too mom." "Thanks I love them too." Her mom said in reply.

Reality struck me earlier, as it's done many times before, as I searched through the clothing and I made eye contact with a young boy sitting in the back of a shopping cart being pushed around by his mom. His mom had that dazed look in her eyes as she searched and searched through clothes. He seemed so bored and maybe even confused. He seemed to be used to such situations for he sat quite still, like a good little boy, while his mom wouldn't even keep her eyes off the clothes she was searching through long enough to carefully move the cart around in a way that didn't bonk the boy into the clothing racks.

As I sat there in the dressing stall I thought of how all these moms, all these women, all these people seem so dazed and lost in the dazzle of things. I looked up at the simple but beautiful shirt that hung on a hook I had just tried on. I read from the tag, "Made in Indonesia". I had a sudden paradigm shift. I held back tears as I thought of the conditions this shirt was more than likely made in. What overworked hands made that shirt just so another American can add, yet another, item of clothing to their wardrobe?

At the end of her feeding, Camilla calmly fell asleep. I laid her in her carseat. I gathered up the untried on merchandise, dropped it off at the counter and moved on having become a bit of a different person. "Stop swinging your feet." I hear a mom say a ways away to a young child sitting in the shopping cart. "Stop being a child," is what I really hear her say, "I'm busy buying myself things".

I do purchase some dish clothes I was in need of. The elderly man at the check stand has lived so much of his life he shakes as he slowly gets me my change. I'm on the verge of asking him, " Do you want to work or do you have to work?" Even though I wanted to know the answer I don't ask in fear of offending him or causing him emotional pain. I'm pretty sure I know the answer anyway.

I left the store without purchasing anything I wanted for myself. Instead I spent all the money I had on some fabric for a line of baby apparel I want to start. With the intent to use much of its income to relieve good people of their burdens and desperate situations.

When, oh when, will we begin to see one another instead of seeing things?


Cate said...

On the Marquee at school today it said "Be the change that you want to see in the world". I liked your view on the trip to Target. I wonder about work in foreign countries too- but I wonder who is the real cause of the problem- the US or the owners of the factories- I have been researching this topic and can't come to any real truth or solutions. If we don't buy the products then we send the message that it is wrong to take andvantage of people and yet if we don't buy the products we also put innocent people out of a job- it's a catch 22. I think it is neat that you are not the least bit superficial and care so deeply about humanity. Amanda

Tif said...

Claudia, you are an inspiration to me. I fear that all too often I am that busy mom that rushes through life and doesn't take the time to stop and look around her at what is really going on in the world and how it is impacting the lives of those around her. I know that I can do more than I currently am to make a difference. Thanks for sharing that experience and for being such a kind, thoughtful, inspirational person.