What’s Empowering About Mall Walking With A Baby

I took my daughter Eileah to the mall late this morning because our household was in desperate need of hand soap. My husband really likes the pump soaps from Bath and Body Works, so the mall was our destination.

Eileah and I at Bath and Body Works back on May 14, 2018. She was only two months old.

I love getting out of the house, especially to the mall. There’s something about mall walking that relaxes me. But I noticed something this time around.

A trip to the mall before and after baby are different, with obviously more steps, considerations, and hassles associated with the latter. But, what I’ve found positive about mall walking now with a baby in tow is this feeling of empowerment. With two or more small children you might be too preoccupied to feel it exactly, but with just one child it’s really been a pleasure for me taking my baby to the mall. She’s now thirteen months old, which means less breaks for bottle or diaper changes, and more time for us to enjoy the exploration of mall walking together.

This is what walking through a mall looks like for a baby:

Like in the emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes, what you believe is more powerful than what you wear. I don’t know what the mechanism is, but walking through a mall, a store, anywhere with Eileah I forget my akwardness about myself and instead feel comfortable and confident about myself. You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s true, my baby inspires me to feel like I can do anything. Maybe it’s because I am her protector when we go out so that in turn preoccupies me from feeling akward about myself. Or maybe I’m just so proud of her that I can’t help but beam and be unphased by myself. It’s not like misery loves company, she’s doing more than just being with me and I’m not miserable. It’s not like there’s some co-dependency forming either, I don’t need her in order to do anything. I think what the most likely reason I feel empowered when I walk with her through the mall might be because of how confident she is being in this huge space where she is so small and everything is unfamiliar. If she can have a good time and be comfortable in her skin, so can I.

Before Eileah, I had to fake confidence and at ease-ness at times when I’d be at the mall by myself. Sometimes walking through the mall and standing in lines I’d feel akward. What is the right way to walk through a mall? Do you make conversation with the people in line with you? Most people are paying attention to the person they came with, but when it’s just you you don’t know whether to be social or look straight ahead like a soldier. Having a drink in hand to sip from or a phone to look down on makes it easier to disconnect from the pressure, but what the heck are we so afraid of? This is a natural phenomenon, feeling akward at the mall on your own. Maybe walking a few years through New York City would knock this nervousness right out of me. But if there’s one thing that can do one better, it’s having someone who trusts you and loves you to teach you how to be confident as you were at their age again now as an adult. That’s my little write up on why mall walking with a baby can be empowering.

Read more about Orland Square Mall.

Did you know they built a new play area for kids in 2017? Read about it here.

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Attachment and The Mother-Child Relationship

Mother-Child Attachment

The other day I was thinking about how close I am with my mother. Being an expectant first-time mother you are apt to reflect on what aspects of your relationship with your mother you want to replicate with your child.

My husband can’t relate his relationship with his mother to my relationship with mine, and that made me wonder if maybe part of why I was so shy growing-up and struggled to find fulfilling friendships stemmed from my very close and attached relationship with my mother.

Feelings of doubt and fear happen when in your reflection you start to notice aspects of your relationship that might not be healthy to carry into your impending motherhood. But I also know that self-diagnosis can be dangerous. Having been a psychology major in college I have found more harm comes from self-diagnosis than good. Objectively speaking, my mother and I do not have a co-dependent relationship. Ours is not a mother-daughter relationship in which we look to each other as our emotional partner. When I’m uncertain about something or if I need a second opinion, the first person I think to ask is my husband. It used to be my mother that I would go to first, but like all relationships, my attachment and need for her changed.

Like the Gilmore Girls

The mother-daughter relationship portrayed in “The Gilmore Girls” is very much us. Like Rory’s character, I always prefer hanging out with my mom. In fact, sometimes I feel like someone her age because I like so many of the same things a person her age would like, and consequently I have found it easier to make friends with older women rather than women my own age.

How Attachment Can Alienate

It was very easy for me to make my mother the center of my world growing-up because I was an only-child. I had a habit of being shy and cautious, with a tendency of holding back because I was teased a lot early on in school for being very tall and very thin. I was complimented by adults for being very pretty, but I didn’t believe them because the teasing instilled insecurity and doubt in myself. I was afraid of making friends, so my mother was my refuge for a while.

I of course figured out how to deal with teasing and became well adjusted, made friends and do what typical young girls do, but friendships always seem transient. As you go from grade to grade in school the class roster shuffles, people move, you move and you get tired of being the polite one who reaches out all the time. I got tired of putting effort into friendships that felt one-way streets. With my mother it was always a two-way street, it was hard to find that among girls my age.

Friendships never seemed to live up to the friendships I read about in books or saw in movies and tv shows whereas my friendship with my mother did. I came to like the same music, movies and things as her, but couldn’t find others to share them with. Although I was into the same things as kids my age, I felt alone in my knowledge of cultural references of older generations. I felt split between two generations, always preferring the older generation’s things.

Seeing the Patterns

I’m not exactly a mini-me of my mother, but no one knows my mother better than me, so safe to say I have started to catch myself doing things she would do as the woman of a household. Maybe it’s true that you do become your mother unknowingly, but what I want to avoid is being too extreme one way or the other with my attachment style with my children.

The best I can do is be observant of myself once my baby enters the world and try my best to instill a sense of strength in them to be social and to look to me as a parent and not as a surrogate girlfriend. It starts the moment they are born the special mother-child bond, but the mother-child relationship as time goes on shouldn’t get to the level of enmeshment and co-dependence.

My mother was trying to raise a strong woman, I know because I saw the books she read during my adolescence. She was very conscious of how close our relationship was growing up, but being a shy and compassionate woman like me, I think pushing me to hang out more with kids at school was hard for her. When you know your child is having trouble relating to or finding their support system outside their family, you want to be supportive, but some times being too compassionate can lead to your child having trouble leaving the nest or worse, never finding a support system outside their family.

The only way to break the pattern and ensure a healthy mother-child relationship is to observe, journal and learn from your mistakes.

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