Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Mother's Closet (a Faceshuk post)

Daughter is now twelve. This means a few things. Like she's sprouted up to over 5'3. (Though, somehow, she still only weighs 89 pounds...) It also means adolescence - female adolescence - has set in causing her to fight with me each day like I fought with my mother before me.

But it also means this: her clothes doesn't fit anymore or they're too babyish, or not cool enough, or any of a thousand other reasons she can no longer wear them. She stomps into my bathroom while I'm getting ready each morning, says she needs to go shopping, and then goes shopping. Right then. In my closet.

On the one hand I know I should be pretty grateful she wants to go in there. I am 39 years older than her, after all. Also, I'm glad that we actually fit in some of the same clothes especially since I don't weigh anywhere near 89 pounds. But what's the chance of me having anything hip enough for her?

Turns out that the clothes that are now too young for me are just the right age for her. The clothes I monitor carefully, aware that there's a thin line between dressing well and looking like I'm longing for the 1970s and my own teen years. The stuff that doesn't make the cut gets trotted out for the tween.

This wasn't something I could do when I was a kid in Skokie. First of all, even if our mother's clothes had been attractive to us, I had five older sisters who would have gotten there first. Second, her clothes were never going to appeal to us. I was 12 in 1972, for goodness sakes. I wanted - needed - hippyish clothes, maybe a leather bandanna for my forehead, a halter top, bell bottom baggy jeans, maybe a fringed vest.

My mother's closet was not the place to find these items. The most noticeable thing upon opening its door was the smell of mothballs. Then there were the brocade dresses, the handmade suits, the torturous pumps, the foundation garments. My mother's clothes could actually stand up and walk around by themselves, they were that stiff, they didn't need a human body in them. For a free-wheeling 12-year-old who didn't want to dress like Jackie Onassis, that wasn't the look I was going for.

But here in Scottsdale, in 2011, with a mom who writes at home and has her professional clothes gathered neatly in one side of the closet, it's a windfall for the kid. She looks around at the clothes I think would be perfect for her, rejects them all, steals my favorite top off its hanger and sneaks off before I completely notice what she's doing.

As I'm exiting the bathroom I notice another thing: Bar Mitzvahzilla coming in half-dressed, insisting he also has no clothes to wear. The last thing I see is him heading off to his own shopping spree - in Husband's closet.

Did you ever "shop" in your mom's or sister's closets? Can you? Does your daughter "shop" in yours?

Thanks for reading!
Linda Pressman, author of Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound, in many local libraries, and at Changing Hands in Tempe.
(The "Faceshuk" in the title and this code: 3daa678fe7c57f042a0645dfc6668578 are intended to establish my blog ownership on the Faceshuk site. Check it out!)


  1. Yes and yes! The circle of life!

  2. Haha! I can picture this going on. And, no, Zoe doesn't shop in my closet yet, but she DOES nab my lip gloss every once in awhile! I was never able to shop in my mother's closet either- she's 4'7"!

  3. My daughter has the cutest clothes. If she weren't ten months old, I might try to borrow them for myself! :)

  4. Lisa, I tried to imagine my mother doing this with my grandmother but somehow living in Lithuania during WWII and running from the Nazis, I'm somehow pretty sure there was no "shopping in her mother's closet." or closets, for that matter. Yet, I am sure there is a circle of life here, as you say!

  5. Jennifer, it STARTS with them stealing your makeup for dress up! Beware! And that's very funny about your mother's height. I guess when you grew past that (at, what? Age 9?) the closet was no longer a possibility!

  6. Kristen, do you love buying baby girl clothes or what? My daughter had adorable outfits too, that's probably another reason why it was so hard to let go when she started dressing herself and wasn't girly at all, almost unisex, really. What a surprise after all the bows I had painstakingly pinned in her hair!

  7. nothing of mine is sacred... Kennedy takes my shoes too... I must admit that it's fun to share the "fringe" items from Forever XXI

  8. Anon (Carly), I forgot about the shoes! I'm sure when she's about 15 she's going to be very interested in my platform pumps! I should be using a walker by then... Of course, her feet might end up bigger than mine!

  9. I do remember hitting my mom's closet as a teen. She was a hippy folk dancer and had cool peasant shirts and wrap skirts. I guess with three boys I have *almost* no chance of anyone raiding my closet¡

  10. Getrealmommy, lucky you to have a mom who had cool clothes! And funny about the boy thing. There have been times that I've tried to convince my son that gym shoes of mine are unisex, or that he can use one of my mannish looking belts, but he seems to have a sixth sense for this type of thing and only accepts donations from the husband's closet!