The Little Mermaid

There was a time when I could spend hours, days, even entire vacations, shopping for myself. I could make lists and lists of things without which my life would be incomplete: sweaters, boots, scarves, sunglasses, CDs, coasters, cheese trays, duvet covers, coffee-table books, earrings, scented candles. And each of these items had to be exactly right: the skirt that hit the spot on my thigh to the most flattering effect, the jeans that flared to just the right proportion so I could wear them with either boots or flats.

In other words, I was self-involved and materialistic. I was single without a child.

I was reminded of those glorious days last night when I spent several hours of my post-work evening shopping online for warm-weather clothing for my two-year-old daughter for a beach vacation we’ll be taking at the end of the month.

Since she has outgrown everything she wore only a few months ago, the lists I now make are for things she’ll need: a bathing suit with built-in SPF 40; water shoes to protect her delicate toes when she walks in the ocean; a floating raft with a canopy so she can join us in the pool and be protected from harmful rays; a beach cover up with an assortment of insanely cute beach appropriate clothing (usual suspects and, as well as one of my new favorites

The organic sunscreen and DEET-free bug spray I’ll pick up at my local Whole Foods. I will then spend hours packing for her, and a few minutes shoving my belongings into a bag, including a several-years-old bathing suit that I fasten with a safety pin. But I have no illusions. No matter how well dressed I might be, she’ll be the one drawing the appreciative smiles and stares when we hit the beach .