She said she brushed her hair and didn’t want to do it again. Observation made the statement dubious.
“Mooommm! It’s only hair.” She had been playing worm with her sister under piles of blankets. She was wearing green fleece paints with penguins on it–the ones she claims are not PJ pants. She wanted to wear them for the world to see. Her top was a green ruffle tee, a green that clashed with the pants and her shoes were black lace up boots. Her appearance made me squirm when I thought of taking her to the store.
I am not a fashion gal. I could be a candidate for one of those fashion makeover shows where they stop an exhausted mom on the street and help her dress better. Still, I found myself embarrassed and apologetic when I took my mismatched daughter places. Do moms of boys struggle with such things? I doubt it.
“She dressed herself,” I whispered to a mom friend I ran into at Target.
I was never going to be a mom who harped on her kids to dress a certain way. If the situation did not require a dress code then surely I could let my kids express themselves. There are battles worth fighting and most days, if the clothes fit the season and are not easily destroyed by play, I wanted to be a mom who let her girls dress themselves. Lessons on first impressions could come later. Life itself would teach her that people respond to the way one dresses.
Secretly though, I envied my sister-in-law whose oldest was still letting her mom pick out her clothes at age 7. I relinquished the right to pick out clothes in exchange for peace somewhere around 2. Many days, I found amusement in their odd outfits, but if life was grating in other areas, I wanted the satisfaction of having my daughter look nice (ugly truth: when life gets tough I try to control the little things).
On such a day, the kind were I needed control , I was arguing with my girl about her clothes. I was begging her to wear a cute, coordinated outfit when she asked why. “Because the penguin pants embar….”
I heard myself. I remembered the embarrassed apology at Target. Such words did not belong to the philosophy I preached. Somewhere I had bought into the idea that little girls were better when cute, that coordinated outfits and bows and socks were important. Maybe it’s because no one compliments your girl when she wears fleece penguin pants, but a coordinated Gap outfit equals three compliments from strangers. When had I joined this fashion driven culture? Why was I working against my own desires to teach my girl that the world looks at outside appearances but God look at the heart?
Hoping she didn’t catch my half statement I retracted, ” Actually, honey, if the penguin pants are clean, they are good fall pants, go ahead and wear them. ”
I’ve since learned that style is part of my girls. I should enjoy their unique sense of style. I’ve also learned that style evolves with age. A tomboy doesn’t stay that way forever. Neither does a girly girl. There are times where I set dress codes, like weddings. And some days, I ask, “Do you care if you match today? ” If they answer yes, and sometimes they do, I tell them that generally two different prints don’t go together and that a print and solid would look
nicer, more coordinated. Sometimes they shrug; sometimes they change; either way, I never apologize anymore.
I learned these lessons a few years ago. And since then, I’ve found other sneaky areas where my words don’t match my philosophy. And I’ve come to enjoy that my girls express their loves and attitude with fashion (or lack of). One of them is 1.5 years from being a teenager, I’ve heard this will get harder. That’s okay. I think I am ready.
What have you said to your kids that you swore you would never say?