Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I Don't Fit In at the Shopping Mall

I am driven into a shopping mall only out of desperation these days (years) and yesterday just reminded me why.

I was seeking to buy one small thing for our upcoming marriage anniversary, and Google told me that the store where I thought I'd find it was inside South Park Mall--one of Charlotte's ritzier malls in a more tony part of town.

Chris was able to take over with the children at four o'clock, so that's when I dashed out with the baby. Thomas cried most of the drive there, falling asleep before we arrived. I thought this boded well because maybe--just this once would be different!--I'd actually be able to transfer him in his bucket seat into the stroller, with a blanket covering him like a tent, and he'd sleep as I strolled along in the mall.

No, this wasn't to be the first time that actually worked out . . . why does that work out for other babies?!

So, Thomas woke up as I tried to transfer him and screamed in unhappiness. It was then I realized that he's big enough to sit up in the stroller seat like a Big Boy, so that's how I put him in it. I was going into a mall, where women dressed well in the latest fashions walk along in their clickety-click heels and the few women who bring their babies are gliding them along happily in strollers.

"Excuse me, Mama, but you've forgotten that babies belong in arms all the time."

I even took a photo to commemorate Thomas riding in the stroller all on his own: do you see his concerned facial expression?

Moments later, we glided our way into Dillard's where Thomas let loose with howling in rage and agony. He screamed and cried such that I couldn't comfort him and, drawing stares, I wheeled him back outside. I pulled out the Ergo I had brought just in case and, yes, that is what he wanted: to ride on Mama's back.

I had tried to dress nicely (for me), but I'm sure I stood out like the square matron that I am amongst all the hip patrons at the mall--I didn't so much clickety-click along as walk ergonomically in my zero-rise, minimalist shoes, you know? Now I had a baby happily strapped to my back, like nobody else there, and I was pushing along a stroller carrying nothing but my huge honkin' diaper bag. As Chris helpfully pointed out later, "You were pushing along not just an empty stroller, but an empty double stroller. Cool."

And this was how I made my way through the mall, including into the store with ridiculously small aisles designed for size 2 women who aren't pushing a stroller or carrying a diaper bag that knocks over the items onto the floor . . . repeatedly until the clerk comes to help.

The store did not have what I needed, so now I was in the mall at dinner time, where I bought myself a meal, wasting excessive calories and money.

The nail in the coffin of any delusions that I might ever be sophisticated or suave again in this lifetime was pounded in when I emerged from the ladies' room (baby on my back, pushing empty double stroller) with the hem of my skirt tucked up in my waistline. Oh yes.

Plus the baby cried the whole drive home.

Goodbye shopping mall! I'll see you again next year when I've forgotten how much I don't fit in within your walls!


  1. I proudly embrace my "squareness" and "don't fit in-ed-ness" whilst at a mall, baby strapped to my back, pushing another in a stroller (when my kids were all that small). Makes me feel like I'm all counter-culture, rebel again. :)

  2. Ah, the mall. Someday I will stroll your expansive pathways making my way to your clearance racks again. But that season of life is not now. For I have better things to do with my time and money. As you can see from my wardrobe ;)

  3. Humorous, but I feel cringey along with you. Sorry. At least when we get to heaven we aren't being graded on how well we fit in with suave ladies in clickety clack heels.

  4. I’m sorry, but I really laughed out loud at the nail in the coffin, story. I think it hit too close to home, as last Sunday my 13 year old daughter asked me as we walked OUT of Mass why my skirt was so see-through? Somehow, the built in slip/lining had failed to come down past my expanding backside when I put it on and it was bunched up, unknown to me, at my waist. Thankful for small mercies, I had a long sweater on.

    South Park is definitely another world. Just a few weeks ago my oldest daughter, who has much more fashion sense than I, had reason to visit there with a friend and she just couldn’t get over the upscale attire of the shoppers.

    I’m a few years ahead of you on this journey, with my youngest of our large crew 7 years old now, but your stories often make me smile and remember a bit wistfully:-)

  5. I can relate! My stroller (a 10 year old sit and stand I literally found on the side of the road) really stands out when I go to the mall (where the other women have the latest/trendiest strollers)!