A slow, dragging day where I did nothing I was meant to but really couldn’t bring myself to care.
I did however, try to call my mother, which didn’t go well. She was busy so we scheduled it for tomorrow instead.
However, that did help me come up with a subject for today’s post. A little flashback into our relationship. Now I know a lot of people have love/hate relationships with their parents, and all things considered I was probably a lot better off than most people. That said, it doesn’t change that we very rarely agreed on anything. Especially when it came to expressing one’s self through physical means.
Growing up, there was one thing my mother and I both mutually adored and abhorred.
The bi-annual get the girl some new Clothes Shopping Day.
On the one hand, my mother worked 3 jobs in order to give us a nice home and all the things we might want. She was out before we went to school and not home till after 9 each night. This one Saturday every 4-6 months was the one day she actually got to spend some quality time with her only daughter. And it was the only day I could guarantee my mother’s complete focused attention.
On the other hand, it meant we actually had to buy clothes that I would be expected to wear…
Now, here’s the thing. I actually LIKED clothes shopping. And my mother? She LOVED clothes shopping. The problem was, we both liked buying clothes that I would WEAR. And the two of us have very…conflicting opinions on fashion.
Even when I was just an itty bitty brat running wild in the streets, I had a quirky sense of style. I loved clashing colours and weird mashing patterns. My mother tolerated this when I was little on the grounds that I would come home wearing half the local park most days, and it was better than letting me ruin my ‘good clothes’. Of course, once I’d reached school age, my mother pretty much took charge of what I wore every day, and never quite managed to give it up until mid teens.
An example? One day my mother bought this beautiful button down shirt-dress in spring green linen. She no doubt pictured her adorable daughter wearing this charming and quaint dress, possibly with her long hair done up properly for once in its ponytailed life.
My twelve year old self saw this dress and loved it. But not as a dress – no. I took one look at this giant shirt and thought ‘that is gonna make an awesome jacket.’
A floor length sleeveless jacket. The kind of thing pirates and adventurers wore in cartoons and movies. I could run around the streets in a proper full length coat and look as awesome as I felt.
Needless to say, the first time I tried to wear said dress as a jacket, my mother had a coronary, and told me I wasn’t allowed to leave the house wearing that (and yes, the bold is necessary). I was actually okay with this, because as much as I wanted to run around the streets, this particular day was dedicated to the cartoon network marathon airing that Saturday. Apparently, ‘leaving the house’ was a euphanism for ‘anywhere’, and I was marched upstairs to change.
Why did I surrender? Because during my childhood and teen years, I had a mantra that got me through the day. Anything for an easy life.
I’m not proud of it, but the fact of the matter is growing up, I just didn’t have any desire to really stick up for the things I liked. Nearly everything I was seemed to become a battlefield with my mother, and clothes were just one battle I didn’t care enough about to defend myself. I didn’t want to wear clothes I hated…but I wasn’t about to kill myself over not getting the ones I loved. In the war of growing up, there were far more important fights to focus on.
Anyway, shopping. We would both leave hopeful. Mum in anticipation of bonding with her daughter. Myself in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, Mum would actually let me get some of the things I liked.
What would happen is this:
MUM: Oh look at this! Isn’t it perfect?
ME: You’re kidding right?
MUM: What? What’s wrong with it?
ME: It’s got bows on the sleeves and it’s pink.
MUM: Sweetie, all the girls your age are wearing these.
ME: Ooh…can I have-
MUM: Oh don’t be ridiculous.
ME: What? I like it.
MUM: It’s too expensive, put it down.
ME: Fine…what about this.
MUM: Oh now you’re just being stupid. That looks ridiculous.
ME: Well, this-
MUM: D, if you’re not going to be serious about this I don’t know why we bothered coming! Now, what about this?
ME: No way in hell
MUM: What’s wrong with this one? Never mind…this?
ME: …actually yeah, that’s not bad. I’ll try that.
MUM: Great! And since you’re in there, we’ll try these-seven-other-items-you’ve-already-told-me-you-hate-but-I-want-to-see-them-on-you-so-I-can-prove-to-you-you’re-wrong as well.
Then rinse and repeat for about 4 hours. By which point both of us would have gone through half the shops on the street, stressed to all hell, and only have one or two bags to show for it. Que lunch, which was the one time we actually got to speak about non-clothes related subjects, before getting dragged into the street once again.
The thing is, my mother wouldn’t leave until she’d bought enough to replace my wardrobe. Which meant at least another 4 bags. It took us 4 hours to get 2…it was getting into the busy afternoon…and I didn’t do well with crowds.
On top of which, my mother’s patience would be wearing thin, snapping at every complaint I had at her choices, and generally be a hair’s breadth from a adult tantrum. Me? I just wanted to go home.
So at this time, every trip, I chanted my mantra, and did something rather stupid.
Every single item my mum picked up, I went ‘sure’. If she liked it, I liked it. Within 2 hours we’d have a full wardrobe.
If my mother ever noticed that my tastes suddenly and abruptly changed after lunch during these shopping trips, she never mentioned it. She was just happy to buy me up to date clothes that would make me look mature and fashionable. I meanwhile, would slump down in the car seat, turn on the CD player and bask in the non-crowd-ness of our car. When we got home, I would devotedly lug the bags up to my room, carefully select the few items I did like to put in my drawers, and then hang up the rest of it in my wardrobe…where it would never be touched again.
We must have easily blown triple digits every time we did one of these shopping trips, and I still can’t believe my mother never cottoned on. At the very least, the clothes didn’t go to waste – when I could justifiably say they didn’t fit me anymore, they made their way to the daughters of my mother’s friend, who were always happy to receive brand-new-clothing-with-tags for free. And I would just make sure not to be anywhere near my mother when she cleared out my wardrobe and realised I was still wearing clothes I should have thrown out months ago and not touching the new arrivals.