When I was pregnant for the first time, I wanted a wee baby girl in the worst way. Because of this deep dark secret that I dared not speak out loud, we chose to not find out the sex of our little growing bean. Even though I felt it in my soul that she was of the female variety, it wasn’t until Dr. Rosenthal pulled her out and said, “It’s a girl!” in a very cinematic-like fashion, that I allowed myself to celebrate that I had a little girl. I was the mother of a very tiny, very lovely-smelling built-in bff.
Her arrival meant an explosion of dresses and skirts and wee pink Burberry sweaters and ladybug-laden blankets and trumpette socks and mary janes and hair bows. She was my very own doll to dress up. I had dreamed of this moment ever since I was a little girl, dressing and undressing my baby dolls in whatever I pleased.
And I did. I dressed her up.
And it was wonderful until one day I woke up and she was ten years old and she was content to go to school wearing nothing but a black camisole and a pair of black leggings and I cried at the loss of my baby girl. My baby had turned into A PRETEEN, and a hormonal one at that. And do you know what hormonal teenagers hate to do? Let their mommies dress them.
“But I have my own style, Mama. I don’t want to have YOUR style. I would never want you to wear your mom’s style.”
“I’m TEN. I’m not TWO.”
“Dresses are so uncool in the 4th grade.”
“But all of my friends wear leggings as pants.”
Now, I’ll be honest here. I’m a battle picker, and I have allowed my children to freedom to wear pretty much whatever they have wanted, provided it was mostly decent. I supported Emily’s “I only wear soft pants” stage and I supported Isabella’s “Anti-waistband” movement. I even let my daughter walk around sporting a Chicago Bears t-shirt, even on FOOTBALL SUNDAYS.
But lately, Emily’s style has taken a turn for something I am just no longer comfortable with. She is ten. Her body is changing. I don’t think she should be walking around wearing leggings as pants. I don’t believe that the more tight-fitted a shirt, the better it looks. I like that Emily has a personal style, and 80% of the time, she nails it and she dresses better than I could ever hope to. But then there are those days I come home from work and the first thing out of my mouth is
“IS THAT REALLY WHAT YOU WORE TO SCHOOL TODAY?”
This, unfortunately, is something I regret saying the moment it slips out from my mouth. I want to catch all of the words and just throw them back down my gullet.
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
This, unfortunately, is a road my ten-year-old is going down. The fat question. She is not fat. I don’t think she’s fat. I don’t think that she thinks she’s fat. But the fact that this is her go-to accusation kills me and reminds me that I must tread very lightly around my sensitive little girl. Because she’s little, but she’s really grown up.
And my words are powerful. With a preteen, the same words can be used for good and for bad, depending on the situation. I need to be careful to try to predict how she is going to take those words. So tonight when I came home from work, I was careful with my words. I sat her down and told her that she is amazing. She is wonderful. I am so thankful that she has such a good sense of who she is and such a tremendous sense of style. And if she is willing to stop wearing leggings as pants and skin-tight camisoles as shirts, then I am willing to allow her to wear anything else in her closet she’d like to wear.
I officially gave up my dress up rights.
She threw her arms around me and said “DEAL. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I LOVE YOU, MAMA.”
So, I guess I did something right tonight.
And I guess I did something right ten years ago. I made one of the most amazing GIRLS to ever be. I hope she always knows it. I just hope she never wears leggings as pants again.