Thursday, February 05, 2009

What you can be vs. what you are

The other day we were out grocery shopping at the not-so-local organic store. It was an early Sunday afternoon. Most people were just getting out of church. We had skipped, because of a whole lot of runny noses in the family. Since we couldn't take our babies to church we decided to get the weekly shopping done.

While we were in said grocery store a very well to do, snotty lady with her perfect coif and reserved suit dress and perfectly matching daughters with not a hair out of place under their big monogrammed bows walked in. Being a small store, we ended up on the same aisle more than once. My poor runny nosed girl got quite the look over and was rewarded with the most unmannerly evil eye, an upturned nose, and a small huff of disapproval. Mike and I watched this poor lady during the rest of the grocery run. We never saw her smile or say a pleasant word to her daughters or husband. She was short with the cashier and seemed to be a truly unhappy person. It made us sad for her ( and her family.)

I have to admit though, her attitude toward my own child was slightly disturbing. I can't say that this is the 1st time I have run into such behavior. Nor, I'm sure, will it be the last. But I did have to stop and take a closer look at Miss Olivia.
She is my daughter and I find her utterly beautiful. Her joy and optimism, her constant chatter and inquisitive nature, her deep belly laughs and her nightly prayers, all of her funny little personality quirks make her exceptionally lovable (coming from a most unbiased source here!)

But there is a niggling possibility that I have fallen short in the department of "best dressed."
I used to only buy her outfits are Gymboree and The Children's Place with matching tights and hair accessories. Shoes to match every outfit. Her hair spritzed, scrunched, and gelled with the "good stuff" from our local salon. Clips and bows helped hold artfully arranged curls in place. She looked "put together" everywhere we went.
Even the grocery store. Especially the grocery store.

Did I mention that all of that was before we moved into a house that almost doubled our house payment? And before I had another baby? And before she became exceedingly independent and thought that she should pick out her own clothes? And before she decided that she didn't like short hair? And then that even with long hair, I wasn't allowed to touch it? Yeah, all that "other" stuff make a difference on how "put together" you child will be.

So, I've let it slide. "Olivia, go get dressed!" She'll come in with a multi colored corduroy skirt, a white and purple checked shirt, stripped tights, and 3 day unbrushed hair. "Sweetheart, you shirt doesn't match, it's 89 degrees outside-your going to roast, and you've got syrup in your hair."
Her reply? "That's ok mommy. I like it this way."
So I've shrugged my shoulders, trying to remember clean diapers and to not lock myself out of the house again as I hurry us all out the door to whatever event we are late for. If you have even wondered about the lack of pictures on my blog of Olivia, it is because she is rarely ready for the camera. And usually in the above outfit.

I've tried to make some changes. We banned long hair and bobbed hers off at chin length. I threw away the striped tights. I bought the girl's 5 sets of matching dresses for the 1st ( and probably last) time for the winter. She has 4 pairs of shoes to go with any and all things. But still problems persist. She needs her haircut redone. New layers are in order to let the underneath curls bounce again. She has the most amazing long legs ever and her mid-calf grazing dresses of Sept are now b-hiney grazing. They look more like tunics than dresses now.

So I crave (at times) to pull out the flat iron and "fix" the wild hair once a week. I stave off the urge to get on Boden and order her the latest cords and jeans with the matching shirts and converse sneakers. I put down the magazines and close the web pages with a mixture of longing for that latest and greatest and disgust at them for the prices and myself for even bothering to look. But, I have to stop myself sometimes. I don't want to be the lady in the grocery store. Unhappy and unkind. Always searching for the "perfect" outfit or "perfect" accessory that then will wear today and lose or not fit into tomorrow. I don't want little perfectly made up paper doll daughters that are afraid to run and play and be children. I have to draw the line somewhere.

But I also don't want my dear hearted little girl to be looked down on for her rag-tag appearance. I, as a mother, should know better and do better for her. I don't want her to struggle all through her pre-teen and teen years with feeling inferior, not knowing what to do with her hair or how to put an outfit together and look nice. Maybe that has nothing to do with it at all. But, I have to admit that the feeling of your child being judged is a difficult thing to deal with.
Most of my struggle {I think} has been whither to pull my child along to help her be all that she can be or to love her exactly the way that she is.
My hope and prayer is that I can do both at the same time.

As I've been rolling all of this over for the past few days, I've tried to make a few plans.
Miss O and I have hair appointments coming up in a week or so and we will hopefully make a few adjustments to the hair situation that will make it come to life again and easier to manage.
And I've been searching for and finding with some small success some good inspiration for a new summer wardrobe.
Hopefully one that I am going to make myself.
I've been introduced to the gorgeous Amoretti and Olivia is just as smitten as I.

(Who wouldn't be?)

Our plan is to find a pattern or two similar and recreate the look.
We are planning on making this dress too. (Pattern can be found here)

And a couple of skirts, maybe a peasant dress or two as well.
This page has a few good patterns and ideas.
I'm planning to stock up on plain simple tee shirts that go with everything and make a couple of headbands for those in-a-hurry days.
Before too long it will be spring and we can pack away the {few} winter items that {poorly} did their duty and move on to flip flops and sundresses.

I'm ready to step up and be a better mom. She is excited about another hair cut and a new set of clothes. Spring days are coming. Better days are coming. {Hopefully ones with less unhappy women and b-hiney skimming dresses/tunics. :) }


Leslie said...

ohhh Fairlight I totally relate to this post.
Im pretty cheap
especially with clothes
but Im also picky
I actually don't love gymboree (I know women everywhere are gasping)
and I like plain stuff on my girl.

we go places and here its money money which I have no intention of even attempting to keep up with. They were very expenseive clothes to play in the sandbox, and although I think Rylan looks adorable I don't think everyone agrees. Her hair is normally pretty shaggy and she won't let me do anything other than a clip with it. Sometimes she can't see out...

There are girlies .. we love them regardless..

btw.. was there supposed to be a pic on here of Olivia I wanna see? and I love love love your summer wardrobe plan. CUTE!

Fairlightday said...

I think part of my problem is that I haven't been picky enough. Plus family send her things in the mail that I would never buy and of course she loves it.

Around here there is "old money" and the "southern belles" and we never can and never will be part of that. I don't intend to dress my girls in smocked dresses down to their ankles until they are 8.

I think Rylan always looks precious. Shaggy hair and all. And I love the clothes you pick for her. You should be a personal shopper. :)

I didn't originally put any photos of Olivia in here, but I went back and added a few. There aren't any recent ones, but two that are "her."

Noah and Ryders Mommy said...

I am about 98% sure that everyone's kids sometime or another gets judged by someone with higher standards. I totally understand you, Fairlight! I've always thought your girls looked so adorable, so clean, so pretty and SO HAPPY!! You are a very wonderful Mother and I don't even socialize with you personally to know that! If I had girls I would want to fix their hair and put barrettes in, let them wear frilly dresses and socks with little buckled shoes...but the reality of it all is that this is life and we're gonna love our children and find beauty in them regardless of what they are wearing...even if it means letting them where things with price tags a little cheaper than Gymboree (which I love by the way...if only I could afford it lol)...Don't be so hard on yourself, friend you do a great job raising your girls! They are going to be beautiful, strong and vibrant women when they grow up, just like their Mommy!! And Hair cuts and new spring clothes always does the boost for a good spirit :D

Love you Fairlight!!

Noah and Ryders Mommy said...

PS: If only the lady in the grocery KNEW what she was missing OUT on!! said...

Fairlight, kudos to you for choosing the path of relaxed, happy mothering. :) Kids need to be kids, afterall! And both your girls are such little cuties. Am loving the dresses you've picked out to make. Especially the 3rd one with the criss-crossed back and polka-dots. Absolutely darling.

kt mac said...

oh Fairlight my heart went out to you in this post - how awful to have your child judged like that!

But I am glad your family is one of the smiley kinds :) Your girls are being brought up to know the fullness of the love of God, the love of family and two parents who still think the world of one another, the fact that 'things' in life wont keep you happy or satisfied, the joy of making and creating and seeing the beauty in the everyday. & that is the best gift you can ever give them!

I am sure Olivia could be dressed in the most expensive and matching clothes being very 'put together' and yet that wouldn't change her sweetness or her gorgeous smile!

Good luck with sewing the new wardrobe, I just know they will be gorgeous :)Do keep us updated ok.

I especially love the last dress - with the round neckline. It's just like one I'm hoping to make for myself soon & the orange one with pockets *smile*

hugs to you guys!

AndiMae said...

I can definitely relate to having a daughter who is opinionated about her clothes! Audrey has cared about what she is wearing since she was one! While it is frustrating at times, I love that she is her own little person and I secretly really love a lot of the crazy outfits she comes up with :)

Kate said...

Oh my goodness, hi! I have gotten a few hits from your blog and was checking yours out and almost fell out of my seat when I saw your link to my blog, thanks! That child of mine, in that picture, would much rather wear her rainbow striped tights with pink cowgirl boots and her gymnastics leotard on any given day. Sure, she gets the "crazy child" looks, but I just smile and enjoy it, proud that she has not yet been "boxed in" to the suburban cookie-cutter mold. It won't last, soon they will be giving in to the pressures of all their friends and begging for the latest haircut and designer clothes, so I say just enjoy it. Be proud that you are letting her be an individual, hopefully some of that will make it through the inevitable desire to be just like everyone else in the coming years. I will definitely be checking out those orange dresses, so cute! but really, it's all about the fabric, isn't it? Thanks again for stopping by and the link.

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