5 Emotional Stages Of A Mother Daughter Shopping Trip
Ah, the American Mall. It's a beacon of teenage independence, the site of many a movie makeover, and a windowless prison where mothers and daughters go to scream at each other. In theory, shopping with your mom is a magical bonding experience that comes with a bunch of free clothes. In practice, it's an emotional roller coaster ride that often ends in public crying.
One moment, you're sipping caramel macchiatos and laughing like a mom and daughter in a stock photo. The next, you're locked in a heated disagreement over what constitutes a "sensible shoe" (mom: running shoes; you: open-toed sandals with no arch support) and people are staring. Modesty, body image, and parental control will come into play, as the entire experience is engineered to dredge up all the messy maternal feels. It's not to say that you don't love each other and all, but by the end of your Mall trip, you may be questioning whether or not you truly share the same DNA.
In FX's new comedy Better Things , created by and starring Pamela Adlon, we see honest depictions of these and other perennial moments of motherhood. For all the humans who have survived the mother-daughter shopping trip, we've partnered with Better Things to break down the experience. Cause when it comes to shopping with mom, sometimes you have to laugh just to keep yourself from sobbing in the food court.
Stage 1: Excitement
Symptoms: Affection, enthusiasm, grand delusions of immediate compromise, high expectations ready to be shattered.
What mom is thinking: "What fun! A chance to really level with my daughter as a friend and equal. Maybe we can get ~matching outfits~"
What daughter is thinking: "What fun! Free stuff! All I have to do is give my mom the pleasure of my company for two hours, and some fresh new duds are mine."
Monetary price: Zero dollars.
Emotional price: An eventual fall from harmonious, mother-daughter grace... to come later.
Stage 2: Realizing Your Irreconcilable Differences
Symptoms: Mom and daughter picking out things that are diametric opposites, Mom goes for practicality, Daughter goes for cool factor, debate and rabbling begin to simmer, both parties agree that they like one small token as a good-will gesture.
What the mom is thinking: "Everything she wants looks like it was cut for a toddler."
What the daughter is thinking: "Everything she likes is too big, too boring, or too similar to what she dressed me in as a kid."
Monetary price: $20 for a pair of sunglasses that you can both agree you need.
Emotional Price: Mounting tension.
Stage 3: Persuasion and Bargaining
Symptoms: Both parties attempting to persuade each other in favor of their respective opinions. Bribery with affection, free food, or other commodities may be employed.
What the mom is thinking: "How did I raise a creature who doesn't understand how impractical pre-ripped clothing is? If I can get her to buy those mid-rise Bermuda shorts, she'll thank me later."
What the daughter is thinking: "How does she not get it?! Rips make jeans more expensive,. It's simple economics!"
Monetary price: A pair of modest shorts that mom likes more than daughter, and thus, agrees to buy.
Emotional price: A mom's resentment at a daughter's snobby, sarcastic agreement to wear the aforementioned shorts.
Stage 4: Full-Scale Breakdown
Symptoms: Anger, frustration, Mom making passive aggressive comments, Daughter making bratty comments, crying, frequently takes place in shoe departments.
What the mom thinks: "FINE! She wants some inane gladiator sandals?! Let's see if I'll be here to pay for the privilege of her abuse when she comes crawling back after these torture devices chew her feet up. JUST like life.
What the daughter thinks: "UUUGH!!! Why can't she stop trying to control my identity and let me show the world who I am with these Gladiator Sandals?!? I AM MY OWN PERSON!!"
Monetary price: $100 for a pair of impractical, trendy shoes bought out of spite.
Emotional price: A daughter's self esteem, a mother's self-respect; trust.
Stage 5: Reconciliation and Acceptance
Symptoms: Apologies, stopping for ice cream, an agreement that the mall is the villain here. Usually preceded by a period of cold silence and mounting guilt.
What mom thinks: "I'm never doing this again...."
What daughter thinks: "I'm never doing this again..."
Monetary price: $10 for 2 ice cream cones, because ice cream smooths everything over.
Emotional price: A tacit understanding that clothing (like politics) is something that will always be a controversial topic between you two. And that, despite what they swear, they will endure this horrible episode again.
Image: Caroline Wurtzel/ Bustle (6)