I am five, walking around the bolts of fabric while my mother is selecting the patterns to sew my birthday dress. I smile and ask for the barney print for some pants he is my favorite. I am shopping with my mother.
I am seven, hiding among the racks of clothes with my two year old brother as my mother selects several choices of dress for me to choose from that I will wear to my Dad’s work Christmas party. I am shopping with my mother.
I am nine, still a tomboy scrunching my nose at plain navy blue skirts that I am to wear to school. In the era before skorts my mother carefully looks for skirts that are just long enough to cover the bicycle shorts I wear under so I can still bend down to play marbles in the dirt with the boys. I am shopping with my mother.
I am eleven, eyes shining at the black leotards and full body pink tights that an advanced Ballet student gets to wear. My mother pays for two sets as she worries about the pointe shoes that will ruin my toes in a couple of years when I get them and throws in cute shorts that say “Dance” because she will not have me walking around in what is basically a swimsuit. I am shopping with my mother.
I am thirteen, about to present my science fair project at the regional fair in San Diego. I wore a smart skirt and blouse to the local competition, but my mother, a doctor from a time where there were few woman doctors knows that to play the game you must play the part. She guides me to the woman’s section to where formal wear is formal and finds a pink pink stripped pantsuit because I can still be cute even if I have to play the part. I am shopping with my mother.
I am fourteen, about to go to my first homecoming dance. My mother and I walk around a fancy dress shop in La Jolla looking for something special. An associate walks behind us pretending to organize the rack right by where we are. She does this for five more minutes as we walk around the small store. My mother turns to her and says in her accented English if SHE can help the associate. I look at the associate and wish I had said that in my unaccented English instead. I file this experience along with many others in my head as we walk out of the store. I am shopping with my mother.
I am fifteen, in a Quince dress shop in Chula Vista as I try on a beautiful dress with floral accents that makes me feel like a princess. My mother calls my dad to ok the purchase because it is the second dress they will buy me. I am having two parties, one as a socialite in TJ and another smaller affair in El Centro because many of my friends can’t cross the border and its too far. I am shopping with my mother.
I am eighteen, at the UCSD bookstore in May. My mother picks out two pullover sweaters and shows me both with pride. I am going to UCSD and this is my first official sign of it, seniors at my high school, the precious few that are going to college after graduating, have been wearing them to school and I want to fit in although I know I haven’t in a long time. I am shopping with my mother.
I am nineteen, writing an essay in the library with Facu. I no longer live at home, its been almost a year since I have left. My mother sends me a picture message of two dresses, asks which one I like because I need SOMETHING to wear to XYandZ’s birthday party in TJ, and I don’t have time to shop with her anymore in person. I shopping with my mother.
I am twenty two, 28 units loaded into finals week and three days from graduation and starting Grad School. I don’t have anything to wear to graduation. Somehow my mother finds time for me and her to find a dress to wear. She buys me two, one for the day of and one for my first day of grad school. I am shopping with my mother.
I am twenty two, the weekend after my orientation of Grad school. They told me I need a new wardrobe, that I am not allowed to wear jeans, tennis shoes, pullovers, or screen printed tees to Student teaching. Although I have many dresses that my mother has picked out, I obviously need more…and especially shoes. I call her and she comes to San Diego. My mother makes careful selections based on my body, tastes and professionalism. I am shopping with my mother.
I am twenty four, it is black friday 2013, I moved to San Francisco and am home for the first time in months. I need things that we may not find in the desert: Rain Boots and a Rain jacket. Things I’ve never owned in my life because we didn’t need them. Snow jacket and Snow boots? Sure, we went to the mountains. Coats? check. Boots? check. As I work in an underserved school in an urban setting, I need something to brave the puddles with. My mother finds the only shoe store with rainboots and has them special ordered to be sent to SF when I go back, and buys me two rainjackets. I am shopping with my mother.
I am twenty four, and am getting married. My mother has told me that her friend owns a dress shop. We will drive six hours to get there, my mother will help me carefully select the dress I will get married in. I will go shopping with my mother.