Now J is very particular when it comes to shopping. This budding fashion designer is very specific when she shops. She has been picking out her own clothes since age 3. She not only knows what she wants, but she knows exactly how she wants it to fit. Her fashion brain already knows that Gap Jeans are true to her size, but she has to go one up in Old Navy, and maybe even 2 at Justice and just roll the cuffs for a season. I am there merely to confirm for her that her outfit is fabulous, take her for a pretzel, and of course provide her the funds for her shopping adventure.
On this trip, J wanted to look for a few things: (1) a new dress, (2) a new dance bag, and of course (3) her “usuals”. When J shops, no matter what we are looking for it’s a given that she’s always going to look at her favorite obsession, shoes, she will always stop and see if there are any new earrings to match her outfit, and she will always hit Justice (her favorite store) where she will do her usual “Mom just pick me out anything in here for me to try on…I’m going to look at the accessories” routine. See since Justice is J’s favorite store, she will wear absolutely anything in there, so its really one of the only chances I have to get a say in her wardrobe. Yes, the glittery press on nails, fuzzy diaries with large J’s on them, purses, and headbands are too much for the Diva to miss out on.
We started at Von Maur as this is usually J’s favorite place to look for her “step up” dresses. Since J’s preferred outfit of choice is a dress she categorizes them into her regular dresses (suitable for every occasion, including parks and riding bikes), and “step-up” dresses, the dresses that are a little nicer than the rest, and the ones Mommy will probably take a picture of. She will not call them “dressy” or “special occasion” dresses, because seriously every day for the Diva is a special occasion.
Now J is probably the most self-sufficient 5 year old shopper you will ever meet. Seriously, if DHS wouldn’t be knocking on my door, I could literally hand her my card, drop her off at the door and off she would go. She peruses the racks, finds her size, and heads to the dressing room all by herself. She then tries on her clothes, hangs them up and heads directly to the check out (of course first stopping to see the accessories). Of course, I’m quite helpful in this process as I am the perfect hanger for the clothes she wants. So, why J looked I happened to glance over to the ladies section. With one eye on my daughter…not to prevent kidnappers but to make sure she didn’t get overboard with her selections to try on, I started to look at the racks of clothes.
I have developed a horrible habit as a Mom. From the moment my kids were born, I really stopped all shopping for myself. It wasn’t long ago that I was like J, shopping every weekend, filling my closet with the newest clothes. And although I never quite shared her love of shoes (as I am tall and so heels are out for me), I loved shopping for purses that were way too expensive but I had to have them anyway. Now? Well let’s just put it this way…my daughter walks around with a Coach bag (compliments of her fabulous Aunt Jean) and I walk around with a bag I nabbed at TJ Maxx on clearance.
No one is to blame for this but me. No one tells me not to shop for myself. In fact, most of my friends and family, including my husband, strongly encourage it. My Mom is the head of this team. She used to get me gift cards or money to go buy clothes with…now she goes out herself and picks out something for me, knowing that if she gives me money, I’ll use it for the kids.
The only shopping I do for myself involves things somehow related to the kids…I splurge on scrapbooking stuff, to make books FOR THE KIDS. I bought an iPad and have about a 1/3 of the apps for me on there. I buy a new camera…to take dozens of pictures of the kids. See the trend?
I’m not really sure why I do this. I’m not trying to be a martyr, but for some reason shopping for me has lost its fun after I had kids. When I buy something for me, I just hear sounds of “Oh, for this money I could have gotten H or L something, or J could have gotten a new coat”. And every time I do talk myself into taking a little shopping spree, I am usually full of buyers remorse for weeks.
But there as I watched my daughter fill her arms high with outfits galore without skipping a beat, I felt a twinge of a push behind me. “Go look at those clothes Mandi…do it!” So I took a step from the kids aisle over to my section.
This of course drew the immediate attention of J, who handed her stack to a clerk to put in a dressing room for her. I heard her announce in a rather…”Yes, don’t worry the Diva will return tone” to the clerk… “I’ll be right back” and heard the clunk of her boots running over to me.
“Momma are you shopping???” Her face lit up because J’s second favorite thing to do while shopping is to save her mother from her fashion blunders. J loves helping me shop. The only problem, what a 5 year old thinks a lawyer should wear would make heads turn for sure in the courthouse. So what I usually do is try on that bright pink shirt for size and to appease J, but grab the gray one when she’s not looking.
“Sure, we can look for me”. I smiled. And instantly, like a scene in a roadrunner cartoon she was off, this time checking the racks for me. I must admit that even though she tends to be a little fashion forward for my boring taste…she does pick a few great ones every now and then.
“Momma come here…find your size in this”, she yelled over. I went over to where she was and she was standing by some long cardigans. “Momma these are your favorite, you always wear these, get one”. I chuckled knowing my 5 year old even recognized my cardigan addiction and looked on the rack. J was right, the sweaters were my usual norm and I loved them. I picked out one I loved and tried it on over my shirt. “Looks good, buy it! Now lets go try on mine” J said as she started to pull my arm. I took the sweater off, thinking, yes I’ll think I’ll buy it. Guilt free…I need it. But then I caught the glimpse of the price tag. $132.00.
The air of my balloon instantly blew out. $132.00, are you kidding me? No way. Considering my clothes are usually spit up on, touched with greasy hands, or the occasional marker, there was no way I could justify paying that much. I put it down and walked over to J’s dressing room.
There was a time in my life where I would have grabbed that cardigan and promptly bought it. Sure I might have a twinge of guilt, but nothing that my best friend or Mom couldn’t kill with a “Oh you needed it Mandi” comment. But now, the Mom in me said no.
I went back to try on clothes with J and laughed as she shopped in the “no guilt because I’m not paying for it” mode. I smiled when I saw her doing the same tricks I used to do with my Mom… “Momma, which one of these skirts should I get?” (instead of can I get the skirt). Nice try, J, but I invented that move back in 1988, so I know that one. But one by one, she tried on her clothes.
And the true irony of the story? By the end of the shopping trip that day I had easily spent the price of my sweater on J, but somehow I didn’t have an ounce of guilt.