I realized with a start that NEXT WEEK is the last week of summer vacation, and as always at this time of year, I am filled with low-level melancholy about the ending of my favourite season and the rapid passage of time, et cetera. Landslide on repeat, as it were.
The past few weeks have been characterized by two opposing forces: trying to squeeze in lots of fun activities – trips to the zoo, the amusement park, endless afternoons of the kids hanging out with friends – and trying to squeeze in all the non-fun activities like haircuts, oil changes, and back-to-school shopping.
Normally the boys only like to shop with their dad for clothes, as he is generally the Fun One and also I am less than patient when it comes to clothes shopping. I know! It doesn’t seem quite right, does it? But it’s true. A few weeks ago I had the boys try on everything in their dressers, and to pile on the floor all the things that don’t fit or that they don’t like. Does this shirt spark joy? I didn’t say to them, but that was my idea. The piles were enormous and the dressers were looking pretty scant. One child in particular had no pants; the other had one pair that was skirting the line between “acceptable” and this:
My husband took them pants shopping, to everyone’s delight. Well, “delight” might be a strong word. Still, who knew that I would one day delegate clothes shopping to the Blue Job category? Certainly not me. Maybe it would be different if I had girls.
I remember when back-to-school shopping filled me with utter joy; I’ve always enjoyed clothes and fashion and every August I would think about what my signature look would be for the upcoming year. I wrote about it here if you’d like to see all my favourite outfits of my teen years. Dreadfully enough, many of those outfits are making a comeback.
Pants aside, a few items still needed to be purchased, along with standard school supplies, and so I took a deep breath and prepared myself, vowing to be patient.
I took them school supply shopping at Walmart, which – Walmart. Walmart, am I right?
I joined a whole army of moms who all had eye-rolling teens in tow and who all sported looks of grim determination on their faces. We are all in this together, ladies. We whipped through the list pretty quickly, except for one item: paper. PAPER. There were several thousand different boxes of pencil crayons, glue sticks, and pens, and yet regular, lined paper was nowhere to be found. A woman beside me, grilling her teen daughter on her preference for pencil case colours – do you like this one? How about this one? For the love of god just PICK ONE – seemed like she had been there a while, so I asked her if she had seen lined paper. She hadn’t, and we looked at each other with perplexed expressions. It must be here somewhere, how can they not have paper? After searching for upward of fifteen minutes, which is fifteen hours in Walmart-time, I found the last two packages of foolscap. Do they still call it foolscap? I’m not sure how it’s possible to not have paper during the back-to-school shopping blitz, but I imagined being mugged in the parking lot for my two packages of paper. I mean, who is doing the ordering here? It doesn’t expire, people, just order some more paper.
I later saw that mom at a distance, still searching for items on her list, and presumably paper was one of them. I felt a little guilty for having the only two packages, apparently, in the store, but I did not approach her. When it comes to Walmart, it’s every woman for herself.
After that episode, I should have just called it a day, but no. I pushed on. There were still a few clothing items to be purchased and although I would have been more than willing to delegate, my husband has been working a lot, weekends included. After the paper-related guilt, my soul couldn’t take anymore, so I womaned up and went to the mall.
Mothers of teens, you know that moment you realize that kids’ clothing doesn’t really fit anymore and now you find yourself shopping in the men’s department?
We ended up, on my husband’s suggestion, at Bluenotes, which sells no children’s clothing whatsoever but focuses more, as the salesgirl said to me, on young adults. The salesgirl and I also had a spirited discussion about the ubiquity of what are commonly called Mom Jeans but I would pedantically argue that they would be better referred to as Grandma Jeans. After all, what moms do you know that wear Mom Jeans? I know of none.
Grandma Jeans might not sound like a sexy marketing slogan, but when you consider that Granny Grey is a hot new hair colour for the youth of today, maybe it could be!
Speaking of Grandma/ Mom, I was getting my hair coloured when I spied a People magazine, which I don’t normally read, but on the cover was an article about being a new mom at age 54. It was Bridgette Nielson, who just had a baby at age 54 and by no means am I one to take away someone else’s joy, but wow. I was exhausted just thinking of it. Of course, it’s very likely that Bridgette Nielson will be able to afford a staff to help out with those sleepless nights but still. I mean, just imagine back-to-school shopping when you are in your sixties! I need to lie down at the very idea.