Every morning I start my day with a battle. Not to get up, I love my coffee so much I can’t wait to get out of bed and mouth kiss that delicious brew. The battle is with my three year old daughter. We fight daily over what she’s going to wear. Some days it’s that she wants to wear something that isn’t weather appropriate, but it’s usually over style. Fancy dresses to the park. Yoga pants to church. Things that are too small, or in my opinion, butt ugly.
I don’t have these battles with her five year old brother. He mostly dresses himself, and I rarely made him change. If it is a day I have a specific look in mind, I lay the outfit out the night before, and he usually allows my choices. Not Lily. We pick out her clothes for school together, and it takes ten minutes. We do this the night before, but if we forget to discuss shoes or socks, it becomes another battle.
I don’t know why I care. I’m pretty sure my chosen parenting style requires a certain relaxed attitude regarding clothing choices, and I’ve never enjoyed arguing for sport.
Last weekend, I decided to let my girl dress herself for one week. I was excited for some great pictures, and I knew I would get a funny blog post out of the exercise. I told my husband the plan, which was unnecessary, as he always lets her choose her clothes anyway. He listened to my idea with a smirk. “Even for school days?” He asked, teasingly. “Um, yeah?” I hesitated, wondering what her new teachers would think of her choices.
Well, she didn’t disappoint that first day. Crimson college football t shirt; tight, neon yellow shorts; and brown, fuzzy boots. I knew it was going to get better, so I didn’t even bother taking a picture. I was wrong. Not until Wednesday did she bust out a camera worthy outfit. I wanted to make her a hat that says, “I dressed myself!” or one that says, “Please don’t think my mom picked out this ridiculous ensemble,” but honestly? It wasn’t so bad.
This week has been a good reminder. Lily is only three, but she’s her own person. She has ideas about what she wants to wear, and since children have so little control over their lives, she deserves this one opportunity to show her individuality. As soon as I relinquished control over her wardrobe, I was able to look at her attire differently. The outfit she has on today is horrendous, but she loves it. Both pieces came from a fresh batch of hand-me-downs, and I will think of Lily’s friend every time she wears them. My girl was happy today, and comfortable with her clothing choice. We went to the store, and no one looked at us with judgement in their eyes. We were at Walmart, though, so that may not be saying much.
This exercise was supposed to be funny, but it wasn’t. It was enlightening and freeing. I’m not a bad mom if she doesn’t match. I know we will still fight over clothing choices. She’ll want to wear flip flops or slippers in the snow, and I still have wardrobe expectations for church. The rest of the time, I hope I can remember that her clothes are her choice. She will be clean, her clothing will be (mostly) hole free, and it will be heavy on the pink. And heavy on the patterns.