I went to the mall with my son yesterday. My son is 20. Closing in on 21 fast, much too fast for me.
I haven't been to the mall with my son alone in many years – I'm not quite sure if I've ever done it before, unless you go all the way back to when he was an infant. Having a big family means there's never just two of you.
I remember the first time I took him to the mall. I had my stroller. I had my sling. My diaper bag was packed full of diapers/wipes/burp cloths/change of clothes for him/diaper ointment – anything one person could possibly need. I had worked at the mall the year before he was born, and my first trip back meant that I was bringing him to show him to my coworkers, most of whom could not have cared less if they ever saw either of us again - I was not so very popular at the JC Penney's.
I put him in the stroller and we walked around. He cried - we stopped. I
nursed him, and we walked some more. It was a very short trip, from what
I can remember, but I was full of happiness. Here I was, a mom! With
the baby! I remember looking at those moms with toddlers and school aged children - how would I *ever* do that? There was so much crying, so much effort, so much juggling - I didn't do any shopping.
I don't think we went to more than two shops, before both of us gave up. It was just too much. Being out with a baby was STRESSFUL.
Well, yesterday was a much different story.
We took the rail
system down, snap chatting with his girlfriend, reading Twitter and
Facebook on our respective phones. We walked from the stop to the mall,
and he held the door for me. We talked about various, random, and mundane things – politics, grocery shopping, welfare reform, handguns,
and soap. None of it really meant anything, but I realized that I was
speaking with another adult, albeit a young one. We went to The Body Shop where I bought eye makeup remover. We went to Bath and Body Works,
where we bought soap for the kitchen. We stopped in at Lush and sampled products. We went to Harry and David, where
we sampled and purchased some of the most delicious coffee I've ever
had. We split a sub in the food court, and laughed over the times that I
brought him there to play on the play equipment when it was too cold to
go outside. We commented on shoes on display, we stopped at the Apple
store to look at the new iPhone – in short, it was a very lovely trip.
And we stopped at one more place. We went to the jewelry store, to look for a ring for his girlfriend.
Let that sink into your brain for a minute, let it percolate and fester. The baby that I took to the mall in a stroller, the toddler that I took to the mall with the express purpose of visiting the play place, the little boy I took to the mall to buy new sneakers for – he took me to the jewelry store for my input.
We got a lesson in the three C's, met with a very lovely salesperson, made plans for a future purchase. The trip home featured different, more important topics of conversation that related to the future.
The future that seems so very far away when you are cruising the mall with your baby in a stroller, chasing your toddler, begging your school aged kid to eat just one chicken nugget before you go play in the play structure
becomes a trip to the mall to look at rings.
(Yes, he knows what he's doing. Yes, I know what he's doing. It's a promise, not a vow, and we are all good over here.)