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When I Shop Alone, Sometimes Bad Things Happen

Flush with cash from my recent birthday, I strode through the mall.

Unlike a decade ago when my kids were little, I had no strollers to push or play spaces to visit. And, unlike the previous week, my teen and tween weren’t there to drag me into stores selling overpriced joggers or anything with emojis and sequins.

Today I could stop at any store at any time and spend money on myself instead of on my kids.

Giddy with my purchasing power, I bought some decadent body wash and treated myself to a new lipstick. I people-watched, noticing the high schooler kids subtly checking each other out and the middle schoolers not-so-subtly checking each other out. I saw mothers and teenage daughters dressed alike and I wondered if I would escape that fate. I even dodged a few mall walkers.

As my energy level and cash flow dwindled, I found myself staring at a wall of brightly colored tennis shoes. I wanted a new pair and my gaze drifted to several styles from my favorite brand.

I wear a size 10, so I knew it was unlikely that every pair would be available to try on. As anticipated, the salesperson returned with just one pair in my size. But in a stroke of good luck, that pair fit perfectly.

“I really like them,” I said to no one, admiring the cobalt color and styling. There was something vaguely familiar about them, too. Did I have similar shoes before?

“I’ll take them!” I announced enthusiastically. The salesperson was nonplussed by my enthusiasm.

I drove home with my treasures and was greeted with the usual love and affection of my 15-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. In other words, they barely acknowledged my presence when I walked through the door.

As I put my purchases away, my tween wandered over. I let her sniff my body wash and try on my lipstick. Then I pulled out my favorite item, my new kicks.

“Mom!” She was appalled.

What was wrong? Were they ugly? Produced by an unethical company using child labor? Or were they just so not cool?

“Mom,” she said more calmly. “Look.”

Then she reached into the shoe rack of our mudroom and pulled out her own pair of tennis shoes. Which were the exact same brand and color as my new pair.

Yup, except for a few small details, my new pair of sneakers was nearly identical to the pair of sneakers my tween daughter already owned.

“I’ll take them back!” I vowed. “I’m so sorry! I knew they looked familiar!”

My teenage son appeared to see what the commotion was about. “Mom!” he shouted, noticing our twin pairs of shoes. “That is so not cool!”

“I said I’ll take them back,” I replied, sounding like a petulant child.

Then my daughter laughed. And I laughed. My son wandered away, shaking his head and snapping his friends.

“You can keep them,” my daughter said. She may have even patted my head, but I can’t remember. I think I might have blacked out from the embarrassment.



I hugged her. I told her I hadn’t intended to be her twin, I was only looking for some comfortable new shoes in my size. I could take them back, but I was happy that she didn’t mind that we matched. But whatever thought I had about wearing them together when she supervised my next mall trip was quickly dashed.

“Don’t wear them when I wear mine,” she instructed, before shaking her head and muttering, “Moms.”

Moms, indeed.

Katy M. Clark is a writer who embraces her imperfections as a mom at Experienced Bad Mom. You can follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.

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