By Stephanie Blanton
The older I get, the more I realize that it’s often the little things in life that make it so wonderful. The days weave in and out and we wait for the big events that sometimes never come. All the while these sweet little moments present themselves, and we just better not miss them because they are in fact what give us great joy. Sometimes for us stressed out, overworked (often underappreciated) moms these moments can come in the form of some retail therapy when we “invest” in ourselves. I still remember the burst of joy I got one Summer afternoon when I was nearly 9 months pregnant. I had gained 70 pounds by that point, so suffice it to say I was a “big girl” (and suffering from what the OBs so nicely call “advanced maternal age”, I might add). So feeling very much like an expired sausage about to pop from its casing, and trying to find a reprieve from the August heat, I dragged myself into Southpark Mall for some A/C and retail therapy. Now, when you’re that big and pregnant, there is very little you can buy for yourself — even our cherished friends the shoes forsake us given that our feet have ballooned to at least a size greater than normal. But our ever-constant companion the handbag will never turn its back on us.
Waddling through Southpark — trying not to take much notice of the “beautiful people” that pack the mall daily (is it just me or do you walk into Southpark and immediately question if we really are in a recession!?) — I found my way to a high-end designer shop – a fine purveyor of handbags (no, it wasn’t Louis Vuitton — let’s not get carried away). First, you must know that I have a rule which I pretty much live by to never pay full retail (engrained in me from a very early age by my mother who dutifully taught my sister and me the art of bargain shopping—we always knew that if we found a front parking spot at TJ Maxx, it was going to be a good score that day). Yet on this hot and very pregnant afternoon, I was having a particular moment of weakness, awash in those 3rd trimester blues and feeling just plain ugly. So really, what choice did I have? There was but one thing to do — throw down my Visa and blow a few hundred dollars on a buttery leather handbag.
Upon entering the store, I didn’t even have a chance to steady myself and assess my surroundings (I was a little out of my element there to begin with, not to mention generally off my game — you know “advanced maternal age” and all) when immediately a breathtaking blond salesgirl befriended me. Seriously, this girl was maybe all of 22 and naturally beautiful — think Gwyneth Paltrow circa late 90’s kind of beautiful. It would have been easy to dislike her at first glance, but she was so darn nice and smiley. And before I knew what hit me, she’d pulled five or more bags off the shelves and was modeling them for me. She held up one particular cream leather bag, casually tossed it over her shoulder and said with her stunning grin, “Isn’t this gorgeous?!” I thought to myself, well of course it is —- ON YOU. It could be a burlap sack and you’d still look like you were ready to walk the runways of Paris!
Apparently it was all a blur after that because the next thing I remember, I was walking out of Southpark Mall with a new kick in my step (no longer waddling), that cream leather bag in hand and a receipt for over $300 worth of joy. I still to this day suspect that “Gwyneth” and her other salesgirl friends shared quite a chuckle over the big pregnant lady who was such an easy target. I am sure I was a deer in headlights (or a Moose in headlights, more like it). I had no clue if I could even wear cream leather after Summer (I have since learned from my fabulous and fashionable friend that it’s perfectly fabulous and fashionable to do so despite what my mother always told me about white after Labor Day!). So, in the end, it was actually a great purchase — or as I prefer to say, an “investment”. Because the truth is, we invest so much in everyone else around us that sometimes Mama just needs to treat herself to a brand new bag.