Calm Amongst the Chaos

Mama of 5 seeking calm in the chaos

Up until a few years ago the mall was where we went. Like every weekend. I remember my mom dropping me as a teen and we walked the place for 5 hours. 5 hours! With maybe $20 in my purse. We met boys there, ate pretzels and cookies. We rarely even bought anything but took notice of what we wanted at Contempo or Wet Seal and then begged our moms for it when they picked us up.
I would call my sister who had little kids at the time, “what are you doing today?” she’d say “shopping” so I tagged along with them. My mom took me all the time as well. We lived at the mall.
When I had Lily not much changed except that my mall experiences went from looking and just going for the browsing to full on breaking out the credit card and spending more than I made in a week on one outfit. And I’d promise to not do it again until I paid it off, but then Lily would have more seizures, a new diagnosis and we’d head back to the mall. I mean she was the perfect shopping partner. She would snooze and I would shop. I’d buy for her and for me. I’d charge it all, feel sick to my stomach but then do nothing about it. Cut the tags and wear the clothes. Point of no return, literally.
Things went on, Andrew and I would both go shopping. I went with friends. Lily always along for the ride, quiet, usually sleeping in her stroller. Strangers would look at her and say “sleepy girl” “oh she’s so tired” “so relaxed” etc. I’d smile and say “yup” and whip out another credit card because she should be playing at the play area. She should be screaming to get out of her chair to walk. For all the “should of’s” I busted out the credit card. Then when she got older and the question came out of the mouth of a stranger “what’s wrong with her?” mama lost it. “What’s wrong with her?” I repeat back… “nothing is wrong with her, she is who she is” pissed and unable to communicate with this stranger all of a sudden my comfort place was rocked.
I was so upset I was shaking. My comfort place got rocked. This lady was rude. What’s it her business anyway.
But I came back. I bought Lily a “mall shirt”, I found it at Target, it said “Ok I am perfect, stop staring”. By then she had her wheelchair and it was a little easier, people knew something was wrong by the chair, not something looks wrong with the kid in the normal stroller. She was also still little and cute. Like a cute little kid in a wheelchair. Smaller than Oliver and in a chair, so people would smile. And my shopping got worse. Andi Jane came along and she sucked at shopping. So I left her at home with dad. And because she was a baby who cried all. the. time I had to buy myself stuff for having 2 difficult kids now. And more excuses and more. I seriously shopped til I dropped. All the time. We refinanced our house to pay of debt and racked it back up a year later. Out of control would not even slightly describe us.
It was a full out addiction that I was able to slow down, but never kill.
After Oliver came it just started to be impossible to get there. And I was trying to not spend so much on clothes and I started to see the price tag and say “$50 for a shirt?!” When before I’d say “it’s only $50 for a shirt”. It was slow coming, but then I started in on discount stores and sales. But I still had to buy clothes. Nothing else but clothes and shoes. I’d sale old stuff at less than half I paid, just to buy more.
Then came Dave Ramsy. Ugh. And we got rid of the credit cards. I have not used anything but my debit card for 2 years this coming May. And things changed drastically. We are still getting out of our grave we dug ourselves in, but we are doing it.
But even if it is in smaller amounts, I still struggle with it. I still buy from GroopDealz weekly. I still buy way more than is on my list at Target. I say it is cash so it’s ok, but then think about what it all adds up to, it’s a lot of money that could go to such better things! But it’s my safe place to go when I feel God disappointed me. When life has hurt me and it is my way of saying I’ll deal with this on my own.
Yesterday Lily had an orthotic appointment and her and Oliver had a dentist appointment. We had 2 hours to kill between them and I decided to take them to the mall to eat and to play. And from parking, to getting food in the food court, to trying to find a place to change Lily’s diaper, to trying to maneuver through Justice with a wheelchair  (just trying to find something for the birthday girl AJ) and to all the stares at Lily like she was an exhibit at the zoo I was going to nuts on the place. I realized unless I absolutely have to, I won’t be going to the mall anymore. I had never felt so out of place with a place that once felt like home. Maybe this was good? I don’t know. Truth is, I saw stores I was dying to go into if it weren’t for being with the kids. I know I would have just gone with them in the past and cut out their play time. But I didn’t. I saw sale signs that were calling me, but instead Oliver played and I attempted a diaper change on 4’9″ Lily on an infant changer.
So I am growing. I will always be growing, but I want to grow bigger and stronger. I want to be able to understand that disappoint comes, but instead of running away from it with money in hand, I want to kneel before God with it. Cry about the disappointment. Whine even. But go to it. Not away from it. As I write this in my head I think about this dress on Groopdealz right now. I want it. The price is great and would be lovely for this summer. But I am trying to decide it I want it because I like it, or because I have a deeper need that I need to fulfill.
We all have our vices, we all have our struggles. I know all of mine. I know I can’t cure myself overnight, only God can, but I can at least acknowledge these struggles and be very aware every time I hit that confirm purchase button.
Probably still going to buy that dress. Imperfect progress was something I read about in a Lisa TerKuerst book “Unglued” and I am getting there. Each imperfect moment by moment.

One thought on “The Mall

  1. Katie Ann says:

    this really really really touched me. thank you for your painfully beautiful honesty. i really needed it.

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