Mom & Teen Daughter Bonding… Over Thrifting? Yes!
Bad news—one of our favorite thrift stores is closing. I have raised my kids in the fine tradition of tightwadism, emphasizing time and again that it’s fine to have expensive taste as long as you can actually afford it. While my son happily wears whatever I toss in his room after a shopping trip (so that he doesn’t have to endure the endless boringness of shopping for clothes), my daughter has definite opinions and needs when it comes to her wardrobe, thankyouverymuch. While she occasionally complains that we can’t just go to the mall like everyone else, for the most part she’s on board with the whole digging-for-buried-treasure thing at the thrift stores.
But here’s the good news: The thrift store closing means they’re having a huge clearance sale, which means I got to be Cool Mom yesterday. The entire store—already dirt cheap—was 75% off. I took my girl along to run errands and made sure we had a big gap of time between a couple of appointments, and we headed into the store with steely resolve. We are Serious Shoppers.
It is still astonishing to me to be standing at a clothing rack with my child and realize, all over again, that she is adult-sized. We’re about the same height. I am curvier than her in some places (a nice way of saying I have middle-aged hips/thighs) and she is curvier than me in some places (a nice way of saying she has a much larger bust than I do). She weighs less than me, of course (I am still working on losing some weight but she is at a slender-but-healthy weight, finally), and she looks young and perky because she is, and I… don’t… because I’m not. Ha. Our tastes in clothing vary, but in some basic pieces, they don’t. And for items sized S-M-L, we might wear the same size, sometimes. At the very least, one of us may grab an item, try it on, and then if it’s too big for her she’ll give it to me and if it’s too small for me I’ll give it to her.
This is weird, sometimes.
When you’re at a thrift store, though, it’s not as though you’ve walked into a store with a certain type of clothing in it. It’s not like when we go to Aeropostale and she loves everything and I sprain my eyeballs from rolling them so hard while she shops. When thrifting, you may pull out a designer pencil skirt that’s hanging next to a pair of bedazzled jeans next to a ripped t-shirt next to a silk tank top. Sure, my daughter favors those high-low shirts and skirts which I love to refer to as “mullet clothing,” and she will go with bright Aztec patterns or shirts with fringe or skinny jeans that make me ask her if she can actually breathe. I may tell her a neon top hurts my eyes and she’ll point out that those cargo pants I like “hurt her soul.” And I will wear florals when she doesn’t “do flowers,” or opt for a casual shirt with a collar when she doesn’t understand why I’d want my neck “being strangled.” We might find all of that stuff on the same rack, and lots of times our taste doesn’t intersect, is my point.
But sometimes we dive into a rack simultaneously and grab the same top, both of us declaring that we saw it first. It’s all good fun—she’ll check the tag, crow, “It’s an extra-small, it’s mine!”—but I always wonder if I’m veering into “not dressing my age” territory when we like the same thing. Not that I need to worry as long as we’re together, because it’s not like she’ll hold back in commenting, “It’s fine, but it would look much better on me,” or simply, “Oh, Mom. No.” She’s a teenager, and I’m just her embarrassing mother, so I expect this. More often than not, the item we’re squabbling over doesn’t look good on either of us.
What I did not expect are the times when I put something on and peer into the mirror with a frown and she declares, “I like it. You can totally pull that off.” Or, “That’s super cute. I wish they had that in my size.” If I slip up and comment negatively on myself, she’s exasperated with me. “Mom. You look fine! You look good. Stop.”
We spent two hours combing the racks and trying clothes on. In the end, we walked out with a giant bag of designer clothing (most of it for her) for a grand total of… $22. Given that I would’ve happily paid twice that just for the silk sweater I found, we were doing the happy-bargain-dance on our way out. “That was awesome!” my daughter declared as we put our haul in the car. I agreed.
For me, though, the best bargain of the trip had nothing to do with the clothes. It’s weird and wonderful to see your children turn into thoughtful humans. (Even if they do still wear mullet clothes.)Published June 16, 2015. Last updated July 24, 2017.