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moMENts: Labor of Love

By Patrick Hempfing

Last Labor Day, my nine-year-old daughter, Jessie, and I celebrated the holiday by shopping. I like to shop for bargains … instead I got more than I bargained for.

Our trip began at the Belk store in the mall. I thought we’d be going to the Girls’ department, but Jessie wanted to shop in Juniors. How could this be? “Jessie, we shop in Girls, like we’ve always done.” Oh how I recall, the 2Ts, 3Ts, and the cute little dresses. Juniors’ Clothing!?!

We bought a top, Jessie’s first Juniors purchase. As Jessie tried on all kinds of clothing she had picked off the racks, I stood outside the dressing room adjacent to the bikini display. I couldn’t help but notice that all the bikinis had padded bras. “I want to go back to the Girls’ department!”

After Jessie’s purchase, she convinced me to shop for myself. “I’ll help, Dad.” I pulled a few pairs of swim trunks, shorts, and shirts to try on. Jessie selected a few things for me, too. She stood outside the dressing room while I quickly tried on the items. Up to this point, I had never left Jessie by herself, especially with me in the changing room with my pants down. However, my Juniors-wearing girl assured me, “Dad, I’ll be fine.” Jessie gave me her opinion as I modeled each selection for her. Wow, talk about reversing roles. Though Jessie didn’t want to go to the Girls’ department, Dad did. Jessie didn’t buy anything; she shops in Juniors now.

Next, we shopped for shoes. I bought a pair of white sneakers. I like white, but Jessie prefers neon-colored shoes. “Jessie, look at this cute pair of white sneakers with a splash of neon.” No, she selected tennis-ball yellow sneakers. I almost thought I’d have to go to the van for my sunglasses. The color was one thing, the size another. They were Women’s shoes. Juniors’ clothing and Women’s shoes. I’m not ready for this.

Next, we stopped at the Hallmark store. Jessie bought a mug for the dog to give my wife, Mattie, for Christmas. One can’t get the dog-Christmas-shopping out of the way too early.

Time for lunch, and not a minute too soon. We ate at the Sonic Drive-In a few minutes away. Jessie moved to the front seat to eat her meal and drink her slushy. She took her socks off and threw them backwards, peeking to make sure she hadn’t thrown them out the window. She stuck her feet out the sunroof. I smiled as my little girl had returned, if only for a few minutes.

Prior to leaving Sonic, we took a selfie to send to her mom. Jessie texted the photo with a note that read, “I’m staying in the front seat on the way to Office Max (our next destination).”

Mom wrote back, “What???? My baby rides in the back seat!!!!!”

Jessie replied, “NOT NOW. I bought a shirt in the Juniors.”

Mom responded, “Get in the back seat and take back the Juniors shirt. You are my baby!”

Three weeks after the shopping trip, Jessie celebrated her 10th birthday. Weren’t we just concerned about labor pains? It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years of labor … and love.

A few months after the Labor Day shopping excursion, Mattie and Jessie went shopping for bras … for Mattie. Jessie helped Mattie this time. They came home with matching panties, bought in Intimate Apparel, not Girls.

During the drive to school a week later, Jessie asked me to relay a message, “Please tell Mom it’s matching panty day.” After I dropped Jessie off, I stopped at the donut shop and ordered two glazed donuts, my standard order. I might not be able to share in matching panty day (and don’t want to), but I can take comfort in my matching donuts. Something tells me my future holds a number of “matching donut days.” But that’s okay; I’m sure Jessie will be glad to help me shop for larger pants.

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments. Happy Labor Day!

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer. Follow Patrick at www.facebook.com/patricklhempfing and on Twitter @PatrickHempfing.

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