Last summer I had a horrible shopping experience with my mother. We were clothing shopping for me, and it was the most demoralizing, degrading, unpleasant experience you could imagine within the confines of an upscale shopping mall. Seriously, it sucked. I felt lower than a rat that day. Lower than a flea on a rat. I swore that would be the last time I went clothing shopping with my mom. I was done.
It was nothing intentional, I’m sure. It’s just that when my mom was my age she weighed approximately 110 pounds. She currently laments the fact that she has an extra 5 pounds that she just can’t get rid of. She is a tiny person. I am not. I am a very large person. I am fat and have been fat for a long time. I was bigger and heavier than my mother by the time I was nine years old. I am adopted. I am different.
Fast forward to last Thursday. Mom called and asked if I wanted to do something “fun” on Saturday. This is a trick question. I always want to do something fun, but mom’s idea of fun and mine are often quite different. What kind of fun? We went back and forth and settled on a movie of her choice as the “fun” activity (I think it has subtitles). Great. The other option was shopping for a special occasion dress for me. Nope, I wasn’t going there.
I love my mother. I really do. We are just really different from one another. Our likes and dislikes, our outlooks on life, and our personalities are at odds with one another. Still, she is my mother, and I want to spend time with her. I was ready to willing to sit through some weird artsy movie (that honestly I might have loved under different circumstances) when it occurred to me that I would have to turn off my phone for two hours in the middle of a Saturday.
Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since I’m trying to sell my house realtors call me as a courtesy before coming to show it. What if someone called and I didn’t answer? Would they skip my property and move on to another without a second thought? I wasn’t willing to take that risk.
I called mom with my dilemma and she immediately brought up her first plan, dress shopping. Oh goody.
My sweetheart gave me a stern talking to about how she is who she is, and she doesn’t mean all the mean things she says and does, and she’s old and set in her ways, so suck it up and deal. Something like that. It was probably more tactful than that, but that’s what I heard.
I decided to put on a good attitude and see where it took me. I picked her up and suggested that we try the Macy’s near my house, where I’ve had some success in the past. Nope, too far away. We would go to the Macy’s near her house. Sure, that would be great. She insisted that we park under Nieman Marcus, because she always walks through Nieman Marcus. As we entered the store, we immediately headed to the fragrance counter. I fought back the urge to sneeze as mother made a bee line for her favorite scent. That task taken care of, we headed to Macy’s.
We found the women’s department tucked away in an obscure corner (as usual) and quickly walked though the racks. There was not one item in that store that I wanted to try on. There was not one item that my mom wanted me to try on. We were in complete agreement. Amazing.
We left and mom announced that soon she would be ready for a coffee and a chocolate covered biscotti. She thought we should go to Dillard’s (next to Nieman Marcus) then get the coffee at the opposite end of the mall. My sense of logic prevented me from getting on board with that timeline. We would do this strategically, first the snack, then back to Dillard’s. She agreed and we headed to the coffee place. On the way we passed Godiva, and mom pulled me in for a sample. I did not argue. After that we turned the corner and headed down a very long, very busy mall corridor. At last we reached the end and the coffee place. We got our pick me up and spent some time people watching. It was fun. Really.
As we finished, mom suggested we go into Nordstrom’s, since we were right there. I have never purchased anything from Nordstrom’s. Ever. But true to my good, agreeable attitude, I said sure. I didn’t even know if they had a plus sized department. They do. It’s really nice. And it isn’t crazy expensive. We chose several items and made ourselves comfortable in the huge, beautiful fitting room. We enjoyed complimentary water bottles and good conversation, and mom didn’t make that “I just stepped in something” face at me even once. We found the dress, and it was a size smaller than I expected to buy. We also found two blouses off the clearance rack that mom insisted on buying. I was tickled.
The only thing they didn’t have was a suitable sweater or jacket to wear with the dress in the synagogue (it’s for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah), so off to Dillard’s we went. Jackpot! They had so many beautiful dresses and separates, and even two options for my jacket/sweater. Oh, and lots of their stock was on sale! I could have bought five dresses, which, if you are a woman my size, is unheard of. I was blown away. I was thrilled. I was dumbstruck. The whole experience turned out to be a lot of fun, and I came home with several very nice new clothing items.
I guess the lesson here is never give up on your family, even when you think you’ve reached your breaking point. Through conversation, a pleasant attitude, and the addition of well timed chocolate and coffee, we had a wonderful day.