Flush with cash from my recent birthday, I strode through the mall.
I had no strollers to push or play spaces to visit like a decade ago when my kids were little. Nor was I dragged into stores selling overpriced joggers or anything with emojis and sequins like last week while shopping with my teen and tween.
No, today I could stop at any store at any time and spend money on myself, not my kids.
Giddy with purchasing power, I bought some decadent body wash. Then I treated myself to a new lipstick. Next I people-watched, noticing high schoolers subtly checking each other out and middle schoolers not-so-subtly checking each other out. I saw mothers and teen daughters dressed alike and wondered if I would escape that fate. I even dodged a few mall walkers.
As my energy and cash dwindled, I found myself staring at a wall of brightly colored tennis shoes. “I would love a new pair,” I thought. My eyes were drawn to several styles from my favorite brand.
Wearing a size 10, I knew it was impossible that every pair would be available to try on. Indeed, the salesperson returned with just one.
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, with vigor. The salesperson was nonplussed by my enthusiasm.
I drove home with my treasures and was greeted by the love and affection of my daughter, 13, and son, 16. 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 cried aghast.
“What?” I replied. What was wrong? Were they ugly? From an unethical company using child labor? Or were they just soooo not cool?
“Mom,” my tween 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 minute details, my new pair was nearly identical to the pair my tween already owned.
“I’ll take them back!” I gushed. “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. “That is so not cool!”
“I said I’ll take them back,” I replied, this time like a petulant child.
Then my daughter laughed. And I laughed. My teen 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 blacked out from embarrassment.
I hugged her. I truly hadn’t wanted to be her twin and I was only looking for some comfortable new shoes in my size, I explained to her. I could take them back, but I was pleased that she didn’t mind we would match.
Maybe we could wear them together when she supervised my next mall trip?
“Just don’t wear them the same time I wear mine,” she instructed. “Moms,” she said, shaking her head.
This article was originally published by Your Teen for Parents, the premier resource for parents of teenagers.