The mall has been there for me through many phases in my life. It has marked my journey through womanhood and tracked my stages in life. But it seems so different now, as a mother.
In middle school, it was the first place I was able to go solo with friends. We would get Starbucks frappuccinos (with minimal coffee taste,) browse the aisles, try on clothes, and buy the cheapest sample or best clearance item just so we could have bags on our arms. In high school, it was my happy place. I was always an introvert and on those trying days I would head to my favorite mall by myself and my nanny-fund for some serious retail therapy and my favorite food. Then my later teen years where I skipped school with friends and almost got arrested for shoplifting… but I am insanely NOT proud of those times. In my early college days, it was somewhere I never was but always wanted to be to escape the harsh realities of the impending doom that was adulthood. I realized quickly between work, classes, and my boyfriend’s unwillingness to go that I didn’t have the time or money to even step foot in the mall, as much as I craved it. And now, as a mom to a toddler and pregnant with another, somewhere I think of as a memory of days past. Somewhere I can’t afford or wish to be with a toddler in tow. Those soft pretzels though…
So when another one of my mom friends uploaded a new selfie the other day in this adorable lacey, tank top, bralette thingy, I asked her about it. She told me it was from Abercrombie & Fitch and honestly, I rolled my eyes a bit. All I could think about was the price tag for the tiny amount of clothing, the overloud music, the signature cologne overwhelming the air even two stores down, and the perfect little model sales girls that were super nice making them even more intimidating. She sent me the link anyway and let me know it was on sale for only $7! I was shocked and SOLD! I rarely buy anything for myself, especially now when nothing fits my 8 month belly and we are saving for the new baby, but I said screw it and got two.
I set up ship-to-store to save 5 bucks shipping, because I am forever thrifty (and cheap as hell) and waited for its arrival email. In no time at all, the email came to pick it up and I headed to the mall, without toddler and extremely pregnant, but super excited with a twinge of nervous fear. What would it be like seeing those perfect little 00s or even worse the perfectly douchey and chiseled male models… But on I went.
I parked by the Dillard’s, like I always had, and walked through those doors to the smell of “mall.” I know you know the smell when I say that but I had forgotten all about it and it took me back. I felt like a teen girl again, that’s until I literally walked into one of those stupid display table they have in the middle of the aisle, and I felt my age and size again… I got to the A&F and prepared myself mentally to walk in, thinking how silly I was for being nervous, but almost trembling all the same. I wasn’t greeted by anyone and actually had to seek out a sales girl and to my surprise, while beautiful, she was totally normal and easy to talk to. I gave her my info and she disappeared to the back to get my order.
I walked around the store to see such a change. They had swapped the mens/womens to opposite sides of the store and the entire back section was now abercrombie kids. It was full of 4T jeans at the price tag of $54 and t-shirts with huge moose logos for $25. My “mom of toddler” mode switched on and I found it almost humorous. I looked around and noticed there was much more lighting, less plants in your face and while it still smelled delicious, I had feeling left in my nostrils. I realized how silly I was to be so intimidated by this store and how my mom must have felt every time I dragged her in and tried to guilt her into an extremely overpriced purchase. And I immediately wanted to simultaneously apologize for the times I gave her attitude for not buying me $75 jeans at 12 years old and thank her for not killing me for said attitude and instead spoiling me with a pair at Christmas (only to outgrow them in a few months and hand them down to my baby cousin.)
I was late to pick up my kid so as soon as I got my order, I raced back out to my car, wishing I could spend more time exploring the place that I had spent so much time growing up. I felt like I was visiting an old home, but that I didn’t belong there. I think I would still go to all the same teen stores with their comforting feelings and smaller price tags that I was used to, not the adult lingerie or business casual stores that I always thought I would as a mom. I felt the nostalgia wash over me and while I realize it isn’t somewhere I want to go shop on the regular, a nice afternoon out sounds nice to just stroll and sip. After all, I can find some killer Banana Republic and J. Crew deals at the Goodwill 2 blocks away.
Long story short, the “adorable lacey, tank top, bralette thingy” are far too small for the belly and have snaps like a onesie at the bottom, which my boyfriend quickly pointed out, taking away all sex appeal. Thanks, babe.