• Thu, Aug 16 2012

Grown-Up Confession: My Mother Still Takes Me Back-To-School Shopping

So now that I’ve gotten all high-and-mighty about maturity and taking responsibility for your own actions, I’d like to continue the grown-up discussion with a different subject. Back-to-school shopping.

Why would grown-ups talk about back-to-school shopping? You might be asking. Unless we’re talking about the grown-ups’ school-aged children. But we’re not. We’re talking about me.

Every year, even though I am currently checking things off my own daughter’s school supply list, my mother still takes me back-to-school shopping. I’m 26-years-old and I just got a really awesome Michael Kors boyfriend blazer from Macy’s because my mom thinks I need to spruce up my wardrobe every once in a while. Could I have afforded the $110 blazer on my own? Yes I could have, but I let my mother pay for anyways.

There’s a part of me that looks at my mom’s silly pretense of back-to-school shopping and just thinks, “Yay, free clothes!” I mean, how many people do you know who turn away free stuff? No one. Everyone loves free things. Everyone loves clothes that they didn’t have to pay for themselves. That’s why you still have a Budweiser shirt in the back of your closet that was handed out at a bar five years ago. It was free! You don’t turn that stuff down!

Then, once the money has been spent and I’m sitting around in my new favorite sweater, the guilt starts in. I begin to feel like a jerk. I just let my mother spend money, the money that she could have used to do something nice for herself, to revamp my closet for another season. I am a grown-up, but I let my mom pay for things that I was perfectly capable of buying on my own.

It’s really not the money that matters in this situation. The fact is that both my parents and I are lucky enough to be in a position where a shopping trip isn’t going to break the bank. We aren’t talking about thousands of dollars in clothes here. And my parents aren’t forgoing things that they might want just to shell out for a designer purse for their beloved little girl. That being said, I recently spent the cost of that boyfriend blazer on a massage, so it’s not like I don’t frivolously spend as well. Really, the money isn’t the issue.

There’s a principle somewhere in this discussion about maturity and the point in which you stop letting your parents take care of you. I feel like I should reach the place where I tell my mother, “I realize that I could use a few new articles of clothing, but when it becomes a priority to me, I’ll buy something.”

A couple of months ago, I got to be on television. The minute I told my mother, her first concern was what exactly I would wear. She was positive that I didn’t currently own anything appropriate. She started making plans to immediately race and find me something new. In that moment, I was a little offended. Sure, it would’ve been free clothes, but I was a grown adult who should be able to make herself look presentable when the situation called me to. I felt like I didn’t need my mother running out to make sure that I was appropriately dressed. I put my foot down and refused gifts of sweaters that probably would’ve looked great on tv.

Now, just a few months later, I’m back accepting boyfriend blazers as if they were presents from actual boyfriends. I’m standing sheepishly beside my mother at the check-out counter as she pays for a bunch of clothes that are obviously mine. They’re free clothes! And they’re cute. But there’s something about them that seems sad. I guess I’ve finally moved past my back-to-school shopping, and past the point where it’s appropriate to let my parents spend their money on things that I should really be paying for myself. Ain’t being a grown-up grand?

(Photo: haveseen/Shutterstock)

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  • Amanda Chatel

    So does my mom! Granted, she pisses and moans the whole time. But since my birthday is in September, she calls it “early birthday shopping,” but I still call it “back to school” shopping.

    It’s the little things.

  • Jenny

    My husband and I went to Jamaica last month and my dad & step-mom insisted on taking me “vacation shopping” to be sure I had plenty of fun dresses and such.

    I’m 27, married, and can afford a trip to Jamaica, but I knew it was something they wanted to do. I dutifully tried on clothes and modeled from the dressing room. I also made sure to pick a dress my dad had picked out (he gets all puffed up and proud about his fashion sense).

    To me, it’s a lot like going out to restaurants with your parents. We fight over the check and I swear sometimes my dad looks like his feelings are hurt if I pay. They just have a need to take care of us (their children) and this is the only way they can express it.