I hate shopping. It’s not something I find relaxing or cathartic or most of all, fun. To me it is a necessary evil required only when I realize that the clothes in my closet have wafted into another time dimension. It’s usually prompted when I come downstairs in some outfit and my daughter will say something casual like, “Are those shoulder pads?” Then I have to go to the M-A-L-L. I find it much easier now (and fewer returns) if I take my daughter with me. She has an innate gift for fashion and can pull a few things together and look like just she stepped off the pages of a fashion magazine. She did not get this gift from me.
When I shop I aim for a balance between, “Does this make me look like I live in a retirement home?” and, “Does it look like I’m kidding?” For the most part, I don’t really care, but I do try and wear things that will allow me to be seen in public with my children.
When we shop together, I’ll browse around and pull something out and show it to her. Sometimes she’ll give me a careful nod and then I know what she’s thinking… “Yes, that might work… She would have to try it on…and it would need the right accessories.” Other times she looks aghast and says, “Put it down and step away from the rack!”
When she was little, she loved to get dressed up and get everything to match. Her favourite day was Sunday when she would dress up for church. She knew she could pick any of her fanciest dresses. Sometimes, however, the fancy dress didn’t come out, but rather something from the dress-up box. There was more than one occasion when she came down in one of my discarded gowns, tied up at the waist so she wouldn’t trip, long gloves and, of course, a hat. Now some might think that I should have insisted that she put on a “proper” dress, however, that would require a battle of wills with a five-year old and it just isn’t worth it when you need to get them out the door.
For the most part, I delighted in some of the stares we would get. But, there were some days her fashion combinations left a bit to be desired and I might have commented, “She dressed herself today!” Most of the time, however, it was self-evident (or at least I hope so). There was one woman at our church who told me it was the highpoint of her week to see what my daughter was going to wear on Sunday.
My son on the other hand just needed very general guidance. “This occasion requires a shirt and dress pants.” “This occasion is okay for clean jeans and a shirt.” “This occasion requires a tie.” Although, one day he took me literally on that last one by attaching a clip-on tie to his t-shirt. The only time I asked him to change was when we were going to a funeral and I told him he needed to wear something black. He came downstairs in black pants and a black monster truck t-shirt with a picture of GRAVEDIGGER emblazoned across the front. At seven years old, he really didn’t understand why this was inappropriate for the occasion. “I mean, it’s black Mom. Come on!”
As for me, I wish shoulder pads would come back in style. Besides making your hips look smaller, I wouldn’t have to go shopping again for ages. (Little does she know that I’ve stashed all my shoulder pad clothes away, waiting for their fashion return.) In the meantime, thanks to my daughter, I have enough in my closet now that I can pull something together—from this decade—that will not make me an embarrassment to my children. And if I get really stuck, the dress-up box is still available.
My mantra for the day: “Accessorize!!” “Accessorize!!” “Accessorize!!”