Before I was a parent, I had a lot of lofty ideas about how
I was going to mother. One of my
longest-held beliefs about myself was that I would never try to control my
daughter’s wardrobe. I was determined
not to be a mother who demanded her daughter have perfectly symmetrical bows in
her hair to match her perfect little outfits. Nope. I was going to let her express her creativity and individuality
however she wished. I was determined not
to turn her wardrobe choices into a battleground for our relationship.
Then I had a daughter. A real live daughter with taste
of her own. This daughter of mine has taste that I would describe as running somewhere between a homeless woman off
her meds and MC Hammer circa 1988.
And my daughter started dressing herself before her second
birthday. She couldn't put a full
sentence together yet, but outfits? Oh, she could put those together. At first it was cute how she would pair striped leggings and a garishly floral T-shirt.
I didn't panic. I simply
made sure everything in her drawers and closet was a piece of clothing that I
liked. Then we talked about how to match
the colors in our tops and pants.
Despite my riveting lessons in what not to wear, her choices became even more unorthodox. Her signature move is to pair leggings with
both a skirt and a dress. She clearly
didn't grasp my lesson that skirts and dresses are redundant.
We have years to clash over that, and right now she's not showing too much skin or forgetting her panties, so I keep my mouth shut.
Still, I am sticking to my commitment. While I cringe sometimes when I see her
ensembles, I hate the thought of shaming her and turning her fashion choices
into a conflict between us. We have
years to clash over that, and right now she's not showing too much skin or
forgetting her panties, so I keep my mouth shut.
When I watch her coming out of school wearing her Christmas
dress with hiking boots in late spring, I see her joy and confidence. She knows
what she likes, and she knows that she has my support in getting dressed and
then going out into the world to have fun adventures. I see that she trusts me to let her make
clothes choices, even though they are never what I would choose if she let me.
Most importantly, I am not hurting our relationship by
insisting she dress the way that I want her to. I hold her hand as we walk down the street—her wind pants making a
staccato swooshing sound—and I appreciate her budding autonomy, and what it
means to truly support someone you love. Even if they look ridiculous.