“Had, this one is pretty,” I suggest as I lay down a red dress with a pink and navy bow print down on her bed.
“Oooh, yeah that’s a good one. And it’s red!” Hadley declares. For a few more minutes my daughter and I comb through her closet and dresser drawers for all clothing items and accessories red. Tomorrow was red day at preschool and we had to look the part. I’m trying a new thing this school year where we pick out her clothes the night before rather than in the morning. So far, we are three days in and it’s working. Sure beats the frantic dig through the clean laundry pile on our bed, the quick grab of whatever is on top of the stack in her dresser drawer, or the last minute wardrobe change Hadley decides is absolutely necessary three minutes before it’s time to leave.
“I want to wear the red dress with the red skirt like this.” Hadley drapes the dress over herself and then lays the skirt on top, peeking down at the combination. She bounces a little on her toes with excitement. The skirt is a darker crimson red and has tulle underneath for some extra volume. The dress is a bright tomato red and a thicker cotton material.
I cringed inside. That’s not going to look good. She’ll look like the Little Mermaid when she wrapped that boat sail around herself and tied it with a rope. “Oh, wow honey,” I lamented, “Well, I don’t think that will work.”
“Yes, it will.” She insisted.
“Yeah, um, usually you don’t wear a dress and a skirt at the same time.” I matter-of-factly stated, as if I’m the expert in all things fashion. This advice coming from the mom who is braless in a pit-stained tank top with gray sweatpants. In my defense it was getting close to 7 p.m., bedtime was eminent. I have totally seen a dress and skirt worn at the same time. It sometimes works, but in this case, hard no. She’d look pretty silly.
I’ve always taken pride in how my kids dress, especially with my daughter. From the cute newborn outfits to the matching pajama sets. I love picking out her clothes or outfit for the day. Until fairly recently, I felt like Hadley was pretty nonchalant about what clothes she’d wear. She would let me pick out her clothes or just want to stay in her pajamas all day. When she started to get a little more opinionated about dressing herself, I would offer her a couple of outfit choices to pick from. Now, however, she mostly always likes to pick out her own clothes. From mismatching pajama sets, to brightly- colored clashing tops and pants, she’s always so certain about what she wants to wear.
Somehow I got this idea in my head, that if my kids aren’t dressed a certain way, or polished enough looking, that it will reflect poorly on me. That I would appear as a bad mom. I was worried about her looking silly. I was worried that I might look silly. That she wouldn’t be put together enough. That I wouldn’t be put together enough.
“Mom, that’s what I want to wear. It ‘ll look good,” she reassured me. We hung up the dress and the skirt on the dresser drawer knobs and went about our bedtime routine.
The next morning, the smell of toasted English muffin and sliced oranges filled the house. Blaze and the Monster Machines was playing in background on TV and Legos were scattered across the family room floor. “Okay Hadley timed to get dressed! Come upstairs and get ready!” I called out, fastening my second earring.
“I’m coming!” she yelled from down below, snapping together the last few pieces of her Lego creation. I walked into her room and my eyes fell upon her red dress and skirt hanging off her dresser. Quickly, I grabbed the skirt and hung it back up in the closet. “I bet she won’t even remember the skirt,” I said to myself as I swiped the dress off the hanger.
“Here you go,” I said handing her the red dress, underwear, and leggings.
“ Mom.” she states, “You forgot the skirt.”
“Oh you’re right I did.” I trudged to her closet and unhooked the skirt with a sigh. I handed it to her and folded my arms, waiting to see how bad it would look. I had expected her to slip the skirt on over her dress, but she slipped it under the dress instead.
“There.” she beamed.
My heart sank. She looked beautiful. Tears stung my eyes and my heart filled with remorse. She sort of swung her hips side to side, letting the red dress effortless fall over the skirt. The skirt gave the dress some volume from underneath and it looked like they were meant to go together all along. I felt so silly. Why had I doubted her? Why had I worried so much about how she would look? Clearly, the amount of pride and joy she felt from picking out this outfit on her own was immeasurable. She had such a vision that I just couldn’t see.
“Hadley, you look beautiful!” I declared. “What a fashionista you are!”
“What’s a fashionista?” she asked with a furrowed brow.
“It’s someone who can put together outfits in ways other people wouldn’t have thought of.” I explained. I went on, “Hadley, I’m sorry I doubted your red outfit choice. I didn’t think the skirt and the dress would look good together, but they do. You were right.”
“Thanks mom, “ she grinned.
When we arrived at preschool later that morning, Hadley bounded with delight toward her classroom. “Oh my what a pretty red dress!” Her teacher proclaimed as Hadley entered in through the door. Hadley stopped for a moment, glancing down to admire her own outfit. She looked back at me with a smile of pure elation. The amount of pride I felt as I admired my daughter there at the classroom door, far surpassed the gratification that any perfectly planned outfit or carefully thought out wardrobe scheme would have provided.
I am constantly humbled by what my kids can see that I can’t. I sometimes can’t get past what other people might think. But they can. There is something carefree about my kids’ sweet spirits that I hope to glean some perspective from. I’m working on it. For now, I’ll let my little fashionista take the wheel when it comes to her own outfit choices, with some parameters from me of course. I’ll work on letting go of my own insecurities as a mom and hope to realize that how my kids appear does not make the call on whether or not I’m a good mom. It is far more important that their character and the choices that they make as individuals are what I base my success on. That is what my focus should be. Not their color coordinating skills, although, I’ll always be there to give my opinion. I have also learned, thanks to my fashionista, that a dress and a skirt can be worn together and totally work.