Last Sunday I was shopping at Target with my kids, and when we walked by the children’s clothing section I noticed they had all the new Holiday outfits and accessories out. “Look Molly!”, I said. “The Christmas dresses are out! See how pretty they are!” It was a land filled with pink and sparkles and tulle and all the pretty swirly, twirly dresses in all the lands. They were beautiful little confections of sweetness that make you thank Jesus you have a little girl to dress.
I held out the gold brocade to her. She shook her head no.
I held out the pink tulle with gold sparkles around the empire waist. She shook her head no.
I held up a red and black plaid, cap sleeve dream of a dress. She shook her head no.
Then she saw it. A red crochet, 3/4 sleeve dress. It had a little slip dress underneath and had zero embellishment. And she said,
“Mom, I love this! Can I have this one?”
Her face was lit up and excited, the sweater dress clutched in her little hands. A little disappointed, I said, “Are you sure you don’t like the fancier ones over there? The pink one?” (Said while wistfully looking in the direction of the frothy versions across the aisle.)
And she said, “Mom, I like this one. I’m a casual girl, I’m not fancy like you. I want this red one.”
And I KNEW. It didn’t matter that I loved the other dresses better. Or I would have died to dress her in tulle and lace and tights and shiny, patent leather shoes with a huge hair bow on her curly head.
It wasn’t her. She knew who she was, and she knew who I was, and we were different. And it was okay.
So we tried that dress on and she loved it. I asked her if she was comfortable and happy, and she was.
So I said,
“Molly, if this dress makes you happy, then we will get it. We are different, and like separate things and that is OKAY. I love your choice and we can get this dress for you.”
Children have a way of showing us exactly who we are, and proving over and over again that they are something completely different. They are not an extension of us, they are their own people. We may wish for something different sometimes, but the sooner we accept that they are NOT US and we are NOT THEM, the happier we will be.
I don’t care if my daughter ever wears a dress again, or wears makeup as a teen, or reads fashion magazines, or adores the color pink. I could care less if she is a lawyer or a fashion model or comes home and tells me she’s a lesbian. All I care about ever is that she is happy, deep inside where it counts. Happy in a way that no words from another person can change her vision of herself, and that she knows I am pleased with who she is at any given moment in time.
She shall wear that red dress with pride, and we will both be happy, because she is exactly who she should be right now. And I’m okay with that.