When Number 3 and 4 were little, like 1 and 2 years old, I would often take them to the mall with my dad, and we’d walk around and I’d push the two of them in the stroller.
We’d do this a couple times a week, and we’d stay at the mall for a couple hours.
I have such awesome memories of the mall during those times. I especially loved it during the holidays. It was warm inside and the Christmas music was playing and it was festive and New Englandy and perfect.
We had no money — at all — at the time, so I’d look in all the store windows and dream of the time I’d be able to actually buy something there.
A few years later, our trips to the mall became fewer and fewer until eventually, we stopped going.
By the time Number 7 was born, I was not dragging 5 kids ages six and under to the mall.
Fast forward ten years, and our financial situation has improved a little bit.
But during those very, very, VERY lean years, I learned something.
And I changed.
My desire to spend money on much of anything at the mall disappeared.
I became very frugal.
If I had any money to spend, I didn’t want to spend it on stuff at the mall.
I wanted to spend it on experiences.
Plus stuff at the mall is not cheap. Not the stuff that caught my eye, anyway.
For the past five years, the kids have worn primarily hand me downs.
Most of their clothes have come from friends, and while they are happy to receive second hand clothing and don’t have any qualms about wearing it, it’s nice to get a new outfit to wear to school.
And Number 4 and 5 really love going to the mall.
Since the kids all seem to have grown half a foot in the last six months, they all needed clothes.
And I told the girls I’d take them there.
There are not many things I hate more than shopping for clothes with three girls under 12 years old at the mall.
Shopping IS NOT my thing.
On the extremely rare occasions that I go shopping for myself, I know what I want and I know what I like right away, so I don’t spend hours agonizing over anything.
I’m a decisive shopper.
Number 4 is not.
She also enjoys just looking at everything for the sake of looking which is pretty much torturous for me.
Plus all three of the girls have seriously different tastes in clothing, and I have yet to find one place that has stuff that appeals to all of them.
So there is always at least one of them just kind of standing there being annoyed and waiting for the other one or two to make up their minds and decide on something so we can leave and get to the store that has the stuff that they like.
We were shopping for four and a half hours today.
That’s about how long it takes me to run a marathon.
And you know what?
I’d rather run a marathon than go shopping for four-and-a-half hours with my kids.
Because I’m just as tired when we are done shopping, but at least when I’m running a marathon I’m 1) not spending money and 2) doing something good for myself.
Maybe I’m exaggerating.
A little bit.
Although I was admittedly a little short on patience on our clothes-buying mission, it was nice to do something with just the girls.
We don’t have that time very often.
And the girls were extremely appreciative.
We very rarely buy them brand new clothes so it was a big treat, and they made that clear.
Number 4 said to me, “Thanks, Mom…
You’re the best mom I’ve ever had.”
I guess I’ll take what I can get.
Now to find a way to stop the girls from growing so we don’t have to do this shopping thing again for at least another five years.