The other day we were getting ready for church and I found myself fretting over what outfit to put on Autumn. I slowly realized that I had fallen prey to the unwritten rule that your daughter should dress like a child model from a weekend Kohl’s ad. Am I the only one who knows about this rule? Before I had a daughter I let my sons go out in practically anything, and I was proud of that. They dressed themselves and that was one less thing I had to worry about.
Green camouflaged pants with brown and yellow horizontal striped shirt? Little Stud Muffin.
Red Lightning McQueen Shirt with yellow and green Packers pants? GQ.
Bright orange Chinese New Year t-shirt, brown sweat pants with “holy” knees, mismatched socks, and blue crocs? Church Outfit.
I remember before we adopted Sheehan, when we thought we were going to adopt a girl, a woman said to me, “oh, you’ll be at Hannah Andersson all the time.” I smiled and nodded, having no idea what she was talking about, but thinking that it must be some high-priced girl’s clothing store. Inside, I thought, “Whatever! You don’t even know me. All my clothes come from Goodwill. I will NOT be at Hannah Whatever all the time.”
Another time, I heard a mom lamenting over the pressures to buy her six-year old expensive brand-name boots. I gave her a sympathetic tongue-click, followed by a compassionate, “thats just awful,” but inside I screamed at her, “Are you kidding me?! She’s six! Go to Payless!”
Fast forward six years to me having a new three year old daughter. I stood in front of Autumn’s dresser on Sunday with all the drawers pulled out, whining, “I can’t find anything that matches,” and thought, “I can’t take her out of the house in clothes that don’t match.” Then I was distracted by a pair of pink and brown polka-dotted socks and thought, “Oooh, we’re going to have to buy an outfit to match these, because these are just too cute.”
So, why is it so different between boys and girls, and why doesn’t how I dress the boys (or how they dress themselves) matter to me? Is it because girls are supposed to be sugar and spice and everything nice, while boys are puppy dog tails…or snails or whatever? Oh my gosh, I’m trying to live up to a nursery rhyme!
I’ve seen moms make their daughters Mini-me’s by dressing them in identical outfits to their own. I’ve always thought that was just a little strange – just a little. I’ve also seen grown women dressed identically to their moms. Now thats pretty cool. Because nobody does that, and it takes a certain amount of boldness to not care that people think you’re a complete weirdo. Not to mention, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your picture on awkward family photos, especially if you have big matching hairdos (omg, check out today’s post!).
I realize that part of my desire to dress my daughter up stems from years of dressing Barbie in all the latest fashions of the 70s and 80s, as well as my dream (come true) of having my very own moving, talking, eating, drinking, peeing, pooping Baby Alive.
The other part of my desire to dress her up comes from the Kohl’s rule, of course. The mom-pressured, make your daughter look good, so you’ll look good rule. (Which is ironic that I would succumb to such a thing considering I rarely leave my house without donning my Momiform, the mom uniform: t-shirt, sweatshirt, and sweatpants – or jeans if I feel like dressing up a little. And if I don’t leave the house? PJ’s. All. Day. Only changing at around 3 pm, so Steve won’t think I spent the whole day like that). It’s like I make it my daughter’s job to represent my ego. Let me dress up my little ego in all her cute little clothes. And it’s not like my little ego lasts more than 10 minutes before it spills food all over it or trips and falls leaving holes in it or screams bloody murder because it hates the bow in its hair. But I still set up these expectations that she’ll look cute and neat, so I will, in turn, look like a good mom with a perfect child. It’s only when I focus on what really matters that this will change: not worrying what others think; letting my daughter be a child; and lowering – like really lowering my expectations – actually just throwing them all out the window. Then maybe my ego will rest in Jesus, back where it belongs, not in my daughter’s wardrobe or in the thoughts of other moms. Besides the other moms are usually so busy worrying about their own little Mini-me’s that they don’t have time to think about mine.
Gotta go! Time to get Autumn dressed.