Wednesday, April 14, 2010

girls at the GAP

I suppose I'm posting about my shopping experiences for a few reasons. 1.) Shopping, especially for summer clothes, has a special way of making women feel really self-conscious. Trying on clothes in front of a full-length mirror is a potentially explosive combination of self-image and money. 2.) I have been studying a lot about females (especially teenagers) and self-image lately for the girls' group I lead. I've been doing a lot of thinking about how we women hand down our standards of beauty to the girls we know. Therefore, I've been doing mental checks on my own standards of beauty to see whether they line up with what I'm trying to teach the girls. 3.) I've still not completely overcome the lie that my body is supposed to fit and look good in whatever fashion says is right instead of the other way around, but I want to include you on one leg of my journey.

So this evening, Pat sent me out and told me to spend whatever it took to buy clothes that fit well and would last awhile. I think that is most women's dream evening, but I met the offer with quite a bit of apprehension. Spending a lot of money makes me really nervous. It's probably one of my better attributes, but it makes it hard to enjoy things that cost a good deal of money sometimes. I made a couple brief calls to see if anyone between me and the mall could come with me, RIGHT NOW, for moral support. Of course, all my friends were being responsible and couldn't go, but I was wished well. Off I went, with Eden in tow so Pat wouldn't be left with both kids, to find a summer wardrobe. (If you missed my previous post, I think I gave it all away on accident.)

It was a glorious hour of shopping. I only went to GAP, and I really don't know why I ever go anywhere else. Their clothes fit me. Okay, not ALL their clothes fit me, but I can always find something for my shape there. And pretty much only there. I am sure I don't agree with a lot of GAP's practices, but I have to hand it to them for making lines of clothing that are actually designed around a few common female shapes (with an "s"). Thanks, GAP.

Eden sat in the stroller and happily played with her butterfly while I gathered my initial pile of shorts. One thing I don't like about GAP (and virtually ALL women's clothing brands that I know of) is that you can never know what size you wear. So I grab three sizes of everything I like. My time in the dressing room proved this to be the best practice, since the two times I only grabbed the middle size, once I needed the size bigger and once I needed the size smaller, requiring an extra trip out with the stroller. I can't prove it, but I know several women who will back me up, that companies manipulate their sizes so that, from time to time, we can be really happy about fitting in that smaller size and will impulse buy to celebrate our "accomplishment." It makes shopping take a lot longer. I'm sure that has its advantages for stores, too. So I can get pretty angry shopping for that reason, but there was Eden in the dressing room, smiling at and playing peek-a-boo with her reflection in the mirror. So who's to get angry while in a dressing room with that? Besides, I found a few things that looked pretty good. Good enough for a closer examination.

Eden had been taken out of the stroller for fussiness and had been happily dancing to the 80s music playing over the speaker, so I grabbed her hand and we walked together down to the three-way mirror. This is a brave endeavor because I wasn't quite sure how the clothes looked from behind the double-stroller in the small dressing room. I had to parade my guess down to the other end of the dressing room (the mirrors close by were blocked) to find out. But here I had a grand realization. I was glad Eden was with me. Here is why.

Having Eden with me on the walk down the lane, past the helpful clerks, was a distraction. For me and for the people I met on the way there. Eden is unbelievably cute and this fact was the topic of all conversation with anyone we met. So she was helpful in that way.

She also was helpful because she required me to talk my way through the whole process. She gets fussy if she starts to feel left out, so the time went much more smoothly if I narrated what was going on. "This is a skirt, Eden. It's blue. I'm going to put it on, and...well, maybe I'm not going to get it on, either." And here I had to make a decision. What to say about the thing that just didn't go on right at all? My first thought was, "Mommy can't fit into that one, Eden. It looks bad. Let's put that one back." But then I said, "This one is not made for people shaped like me. Hopefully when you're my age, someone smart will figure out how to make clothes for people this shape." It's oversimplifying the whole thing, but she's 1 and doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about (probably). But I want to practice what I will say. And if the size of clothes you've been trying on successfully all night suddenly can't fit over your hips, then it's a problem with the clothes and not your hips! I want my daughter to know that. Clothes are made to fit people, not the other way around.

But she also was helpful because, no matter what I tried on, she looked at my face and gave me the same wonderful smile she always gives me. Eden thinks I look great in everything because I am her mom. Eden, in many ways, reminds me that I am beautiful. Beautiful in ways that have nothing to do with whether the clothes at the GAP look good on me. Having her there was a reminder that my body has done something really amazing in bringing another life into the world. That means things don't fit the same anymore, but her life has done far more to add to my beauty than it ever took away from it. Our bodies are beautiful more because of what they have done (creating beauty, providing for others, showing kindness, etc.) than because of what number some company assigns them.

I went home with a bag full of clothes that fit. That was amazing and made me nearly giddy happy, mostly because it was so unexpected. But my best trophy was going home with my wonderful daughter, a little more confident that we can both appreciate the beauty of real people when we see it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An evening at Kohl's

I have come to admit that I must have actually, accidentally donated all our spring clothes this winter. Just as I had started building up a wardrobe post-children, too! I find myself with 0 pairs of shorts as the weather gets warm. Pat's not much better off.

So this evening it was off to Kohl's to begin again. I can't say I'm excited by an excuse to get all new clothes. I'm mourning the loss of the shorts that fit right and the white skirt that made me feel downright pretty. I tend to cherish those few and far-betweens I've picked up here and there that actually fit well. The fact that they are few and far-between means finding enough of them all in one season is...well...I'm trying to remain optimistic. So begins this year's summer shopping and all women agree, it is an eye-opening experience. Here's the good, the bad, and...well, the ugly doesn't even make it out of the dressing room.

- I narrowed down the pile of 25 or more shorts in 6 different sizes down to two pairs in two different sizes. I put the first one on for Pat. "You look like your mom," he said. (No offense, Mom, it's just that....)

- There seems to be a conspiracy to fit all females into the under-13 or over-45(ish? I may need to re-think that number later in life...) categories. I look ridiculous in one and...not wise enough for the other. :)

- Israel is a great helper and could run things between me and Pat when I was in the dressing room and Pat was outside finding things that he thought would look better than what I had picked out.

- Israel said of one of the two pairs, "I can wear those when I get older?"

- I bought that pair of shorts.

- Pat offered up that maybe we should also buy some chocolate. I told him that's not the sort of thing you do the day you get your first pair of shorts for the summer.

- On the way home, a policeman zoomed closely around a car to pass him coming toward me, riding the yellow line. He wasn't going to hit me, probably, but he was being a jerk. I honked my horn at him. Then I said I couldn't believe I had done it. Pat said, "I dare him to come try to mess with my wife."

- I'm not sure if Pat said it because he would give it to the guy or because he thought I would, but I was glad.

- I may be too old for most juniors-sized styles, but I enjoy the benefits of being able to hang with the big girls.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Days gone by....

As all parents will tell you, these days go by quickly in many ways. The kids change quickly. Here is another attempt to capture my little bugs in a jar and showcase them for you.

I thought it had been awhile since I downloaded any videos of the kids. And it has. I was recently relieved to discover that I DO have videos of some of the really cute things my kids have done recently...but don't really do anymore! These videos were taken a month ago. This is how Eden USED to play peek-a-boo. "BEE!" She'd say. Now it's much more of a "Boo!" and she typically hides behind something before saying it instead of putting her hand up to the side of her head.

When Eden was first born, I called her Squeaker. That nickname still has a rightful place as she often lets out tiny, high-pitched squeaks to let you know she's fully happy. She still does this sort of dancing, and I'll have to try again to show you Israel's moves, since he became shy upon sighting the camera. Eden shows off what has become her favorite dance move, the Spin.

Eden is beginning to assert herself, which is fun all on its own. These are the days of repeated, "Use your words...!" However, as I write, she just walked up to me while I gave Israel a cracker and said, pretty clearly, "Moah! Pease!" Maybe it's beginning to pay off. She does not yet use words to keep Israel out of her personal space and seems to resent his hugs and love pats for now. She's just fine all on her own, thanks. She climbs up things (read: stairs, low furniture, backyard swings...), but can't figure out how to get down. She gets mad about being stuck and gets mad when you have to help her crying little self out of the predicament. But I'm afraid of her pride coming before a fall, so I take her against her will. She is full to the brim of personality and loves to cock her head sideways to get you to smile. If she knows she has everyone's attention, she fluffs her clothes and struts around just to show off. If she's being particularly flirty, she may even blow you a kiss!

As you may have seen in the first video, Israel is ever the teacher (and parent, if I'd let him be). Unless you're trying to engage him, he is quite the talker and rambles on and on about recent (and not-so-recent) activities. He asks all kinds of questions. These days, he is very curious about babies in and out of bellies, since our friend and babysitter just had her baby. (If her asks you whether you have a baby in your belly, know he also insists that there is one in his.) He is still tender and nurturing and when Eden shuns his 2-year-old version of gentle love, he goes for one of his stuffed animal "babies." Today, he has carried his Cookie Monster doll everywhere, calling it his baby Ellie (the name of our friend's 2-week-old). He makes sure it's always wrapped in his favorite blanket and that it has its proper seat at all meals. He is becoming a parent to the neighborhood kids who play ball in the street outside our window. "Be careful out there!" he says.

They are both developing in their spirituality, too. Honestly, in ways that surprise me. Israel is so perceptive. Last night before bed, he spontaneously prayed for a girl who is struggling in her school work. I have never talked with him about it, but he obviously has picked up my concern for her. Today at lunch, about halfway through, Israel started thanking Jesus for the food (which we don't do EVERY meal...). Eden said, "A-MEN!"

Amen to that.