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Today's Family Magazine

Why This Mom of Teens Can’t Shop Alone

By Katy M. Clark

Flush with cash from my recent birthday, I strode through the mall. 

I had no strollers to push or play spaces to visit like a decade ago when my kids were little.  Nor was I dragged into stores selling overpriced joggers or anything with emojis and sequins like last week while shopping with my teen and tween. 

Today I could stop at any store at any time and spend money on myself, not my kids. 

Giddy with purchasing power, I bought some decadent body wash.  Then I treated myself to a new lipstick.  Next I people-watched, noticing high schoolers subtly checking each other out and middle schoolers not-so-subtly checking each other out.  I saw mothers and teen daughters dressed alike and wondered if that would be me and my daughter, 12, one day. I even dodged a few mall walkers.

As my energy and cash dwindled, I found myself staring at a wall of brightly colored tennis shoes.  “I would love a new pair,” I thought.  My eyes were drawn to several styles from my favorite brand.

Wearing a size 10, I knew it was impossible that every pair would be available to try on.  Indeed, the salesperson returned with just one. 

But in a stroke of good luck, that pair fit perfectly. 

“I really like them,” I said to no one, admiring the cobalt color and styling.  There was something vaguely familiar about them, too.  Did I have similar shoes before? 

“I’ll take them!” I announced, with vigor.  The salesperson was nonplussed by my enthusiasm.

I drove home with my treasures and was greeted by the love and affection of my tween daughter and teenage son.  In other words, they barely acknowledged my presence when I walked through the door.

As I put my purchases away, my daughter wandered over.  I let her sniff my body wash and try on my lipstick.  Then I pulled out my favorite purchase, my new kicks.

“Mom!” she cried aghast.

“What?” I replied.  What was wrong?  Were they ugly?  From an unethical company using child labor?  Or were they just soooo not cool?

“Mom,” my tween said more calmly, a hint of smile tugging at her lips.  “Look.”

Then she reached into the shoe rack of our mudroom and pulled out her own pair of tennis shoes. 

Which were the exact same brand and color as my new pair.  Yup, my new pair was identical to the pair my tween already owned.

“I’ll take them back!” I gushed.  “I knew they looked familiar!”

My teenage son appeared to see what the ruckus was about.

“Mom!” he shouted, noticing our twin pairs. “That is so not cool!”

“I said I’ll take them back,” I replied, this time like a petulant child.

But then I noticed my daughter was laughing.  And I started to laugh.  My son wandered away, shaking his head.

“You can totally keep them,” my daughter said, shaking her head with what may have been pity.  I believe she even patted my head, but I can’t remember because I think I blacked out from embarrassment.

“Really?, I said.

“Really,” she responded.

I hugged her and she hugged me back, still giggling.  I truly hadn’t wanted to be her twin and was pleased that she didn’t mind we would match.  Maybe we could wear them the next time we went to the mall together? 

“Just don’t wear them the same time I wear mine,” she instructed.  “Moms,” she said, shaking her head.

Moms, indeed.

Katy M. Clark is a writer and mom of two who embraces her imperfections on her blog Experienced Bad Mom.