Thrifting and bonding in times of change


“Ooh! That’s a really interesting pop of color!”


This is the kind of thing that you say to your 20-year-old who has asked you to come shopping with her so that she can pick out items for her new apartment.


You are not at all oblivious to the fact that said 20-year-old has only invited you along on this mission because of the credit card that you have in your purse.


Nevertheless, you walk the aisles of Marshall’s—and T.J. Maxx, and Nordstrom Rack, and Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Big Lots, and some random Stein Mart that is in the midst of a going-out-of-business sale—with incredible pep and enthusiasm.


That’s because you are going to help pick out all the best discount items to decorate this hip young adult’s apartment so that it is—pardon my language—cute af.


I mean, except if you choose that hideous dish towel.


Are you serious with that?


That is the stupidest looking dish towel that I have ever seen.


It is super, super ugly.


And did you even check the tag?


The fabric is not responsibly manufactured.


I mean, were you joking?


You must have been joking.


Honestly, what part of you thinks that this towel is even remotely close to the same shade of aquamarine—quit calling it turquoise, Mom; that’s way, way more green—as my hand-crank can opener?


Are you literally color blind?


I just cannot even with you.






OK then.


I recently have been made aware of the fact that Facebook Marketplace yields a whole lot of discount furnishings, the purchase of which cuts down on what gets tossed into landfills.


I’m very much in support of that ideal.


But what that means is that I’m going to have to drive downtown on a Saturday morning, parallel park the family minivan on Euclid, feed the meter the two nickels and a dime that happen to be in the cup holder, and collect a very nice (and she *swears* bed bug-free!) Pottery Barn Kids full-sized mattress from a newly practicing lawyer who lives in a way-too-fancy place.


(Her parents bought it for her, natch)


Obvi, this is me we’re talking about.


After navigating the fancy apartment building while trying to maintain a low profile, I had to schlep this ridiculously heavy mattress down three flights of stairs and across a four-lane road.


With my 20-year-old.


Who is thrifty.


And exceedingly mortified that she is holding up one side of this (really well-priced) mattress.


Mainly because she has been seen in public with me.


Even though we both are safely ensconced behind face masks.


And we are loading this super cute mattress into an objectively embarrassing minivan.


I’ll give her that one.


This thing is a rusty mess.


But still good!


(My husband made me say that—because he plans to sell it to somebody soon.)


Doesn’t matter.


The pop of color that I shouted out for this girl’s kitchen is a vintage stand mixer that is a cute and cheery yellow.


I’m so jealous.


I cannot think of a single recipe that I have ever executed that calls for a stand mixer.


But wow would I love to have one.


Is that bad?


They are just so adorable.


And I see them pictured in all the fancy magazines.


Just in:


Wanting something that you have no need for is actually a bad thing.


I should be ashamed.


And it turns out, I am.




This is where it comes in handy to have a 20-year-old child.


I feel much more enlightened.


I’m going to miss having my kid here to remind me of my shortcomings.


And to hang out with me in the living room.


And to give me the play-by-play of her adventures in babysitting with the most hilarious seven-year-old who ever has graced the earth.


And to just be with me.


And reminisce.


And laugh.


And enjoy each other’s company.


Sure, we’re going to be able to FaceTime whenever we want, but I won’t be able to smell the aroma of the gluten-free banana nut muffins that she plans to bake.


She’s so eager to put that stand mixer to use in her new apartment.


It’s appropriate that she hasn’t asked me what she should make first.


Because I hate bananas.

Read more articles by Kathleen Osborne.

Kathleen Osborne is the mother of three children who now are legally considered adults, although she has trouble assigning that label to herself. She is the marketing and communication director at Hathaway Brown School, where she’s inspired by creative, smart, and confident girls every day.

Signup for Email Alerts