I was walking around the mall, shopping for a hat, when a woman caught my attention. Like big time. In a way that inspired this blog post.

Let me pause for a moment: going to the mall feels semi 1995ish, but it’s the middle of August and I wanted a climate controlled place to stroll with my newly potty trained toddler while sharing a cup of Auntie Ann’s pretzel nuggets with my right-hand-man-husband, Tyler.  Also on the drive to the mall, I mentioned to Tyler that “our mall” is the highest grossing mall in southern PA. So, I guess the mall isn’t as out of date as I thought.

Okay, now that you have context for my mall-stroll, let’s take it back to the inspirational bit.

There she was sitting on a leather bench shifting the weight of her Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM bag while three boys, under the age of four, swarmed around her. Side note: that bag was totally full.  A double stroller sat nearby, but clearly she’d let go of the ever so great child restraint system to live a bit dangerously. She was full-on momming-it, but with some sense of self-preservation.

Maybe it was her full Neverfull bag or her designer skinny jeans with holes in all the right places.  It might have been the hip, but not too hipster, trucker hat she was wearing over her dirty blond hair (I actually mean dirty in the way it means, and not as way to describe a shade of blonde.) Hats have a new meaning when you have small children.

It could have been all of those things, but what totally caught my attention was her shirt. It read, “In memory of when I cared.”

My mind went into a slow-mo scene, akin to the staple slow-mo scene in every Wes Anderson film. I slowly strolled passed her as she slowly looked up from the flurry of human activity around her. We low-waved to each other, motivated by motherhood camaraderie. Like a biker’s nod. 

In real-time she didn’t see me, but I definitely saw her.  Her image and her momness saturated my thoughts as I shopped for my hat.

Before I became a mom I cared about different things.

I never used to care about my mornings. Now my mornings are my anchor to the day. It’s quite and there’s just me and a good book.  Usually a book that fills my mind with hope and wisdom about things that where and things that will be. And, coffee. Always coffee.

I used to care about how people perceived me. Not so much of a focus anymore. Caring about self-approval is higher on my priority list than how other’s vibe with me.  Not caring about perception also makes me a better listener and observer of life than when I was “all about me”, which in general is just something everyone has to go through and sometimes gets stuck in. However, letting go of managing other’s expectations is just so freakin freeing.

There was a time when I cared about my work performance and making sure whatever I was producing was just a bit better than what the client wanted. I don’t care about producing stuff for others. In actuality, that seems to make stuff I work on more fun to work on (imagine that) and better received by clients and an audience. Mainly, though, I have the freedom to create and be creative in the framework of my sweet family. I pour more emotion and intent into this than I ever did to my work performance. (I realize that sharing this fact out loud might infringe upon future client work, but just being honest might also be something to be appreciated.)

I used to love the smell of Jo Malone Orange Blossom on my skin. I still adore Jo Malone, but after running out of the scent, like 3 years ago, I never replaced it. That’s because I currently really care about what I’m putting onto and into my body. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with perfumes. There is just more of a focus, personally for me, to spend money on different things. What I cared about then isn’t what I care about now. Also, smelling amazing while full on momming-it just seems excessive.

I’ll be thinking all day about the memory of the things I used to care about, but not in a lamenting way.  More so in a way that celebrates growth and forward movement in life. I’m glad to have the memory of things I used to care about.  In that gap between then and now there’s been a lot of change, and with change comes growth. Plus, the courage to rock a hat over dirty hair while your littles do their thing on a lazy August Sunday afternoon in the climate controlled mall.

Before I go, let me know in the comments: what memories do you have that show your cares have changed?