As a self proclaimed fashionista I was sure there was one upside to having a daughter that I didn’t picture with a son, the clothes. I envisioned matching outfits, playing dress up, and a little girl who loved style just as much as me. Cut to real life. The moment she could voice them, my daughter started having very strong opinions about her clothes. In fact, she spent a year of her life in only Minnie Mouse t-shirts. Up until very recently, she’s been all about dresses and ‘princess’ skirts.
On the day to day it can be a little frustrating. More often than not it’s humorous. The things she favors get repeatedly worn and stained while others sit in drawers crisp and clean. I started noticing a rhythm in what she liked and bought new items to fit the bill. Minnie t-shirts would always get a thumbs up as would shorts with pockets. Pockets would hold the rocks and acorns she picked up at the park so this move was purely functional.
When it came time for holidays and important photo opps, I was stubborn. And it wound up teaching me a huge lesson. Early November last year I went to Carter’s and picked out two perfect outfits for Violet. One for Thanksgiving, a long sleeve floral top and cream sparkle skirt and another other to wear for family holiday card photos, a gingham long sleeve top and magenta sparkle leggings. I also found adorable magenta fringed boots that would match both outfits. I thought I had worked within the guidelines of what she liked enough to appease her. Pink, good. Sparkle, good. ‘Princess’ skirt, good. No. Nope. Nope. Noppity. Nope.
Thanksgiving rolled around and it was time to get dressed for lunch. Lunch was planned for smack in the middle of nap time so she hadn’t slept. That should have been reason enough for me to take a step back. But it wasn’t. Violet said she did not want to wear the outfit I picked out. I said she had to. She cried. I yelled. I put her in time out. She wouldn’t budge. I told her no treats at Thanksgiving. I yelled more. And she cried. And she stood her ground. Oh did she stand her ground. I cancelled Thanksgiving and yelled some more. Eventually my husband stepped in. I left the room to cool down and gain an ounce of composure. Violet picked a different dress and asked to wear her new pink boots. We were late to lunch and I was rattled the whole time. In a more rational head space, I quickly realized how off the rails I’d gone.
I was embarrassed that I had treated my daughter so poorly over something so trivial. I now look back on that day and think of it as the day I learned the biggest lesson of my mama life. I hate how I acted and that for even a moment my daughter was scared of me. I don’t remember anything from that day except yelling at her. Those are not the memories I want to keep in my heart. And certainly not ones I want her to keep in hers.
It also dawned on me that I actually have raised a little fashionista. And with that comes her own opinions of what she wants to wear. I resolved not to fight her on clothing anymore. My daughter is fiercely assertive and that is something I should nurture every day because there will be 10,000 times in her life that other people quiet her. I preach to her that her body is her own. And that has to mean that I let her choose what she puts on to cover her body.
Later that weekend, I shared my embarrassment and failure with my closest mom friend. She reminded me that it’s okay for our kids to see us lose it every once in awhile but that it’s important to apologize afterwards. It shows them even mommies aren’t perfect and that what matters is how we respond when we do something we regret. (Thank you mom bff who is working on her psych Ph.D.!) This helped ease my guilt and reassured me that I didn’t ruin my kid’s life. At least not yet. I’m sure I’ll have lots more opportunities for that down the road.
I’m no expert. But here’s what I’ve learned in dealing with a tiny fashionista:
- Include them when you can in buying their own clothes. Violet was very happy to find a very pretty Minnie Mouse party dress that she wore for Easter and now wears at least once a week to preschool.
- If you really want them to wear something, you gotta sell it. Recently, Violet’s grandma bought her an adorable dress and sandals for a family party. When I showed them to her I remarked how much they looked like something Moana would wear (sort of, kind of, maybe?) She loved it and asked if it was time to wear the Moana dress every day leading up to the party.
- Understand there is a rationale to their thinking. V did love the Moana dress and sandals but also thought she might get cold at the party so she wanted to wear tribal print leggings underneath. Who was I to disagree with that logic?
- Be like Elsa and Let it Go. It does not matter which dress my daughter wears to Thanksgiving. She’s adorable in anything and I’d much rather look back on happy memories of time spent together than think of tears shed in my quest for a perfect photo. Let. It. Go.
- Remember that crazy outfits will make the best photos. I look forward to showing teenage Violet photos that we can laugh at together.
The other day as I got Violet dressed for school, she pointed to her ‘princess’ dress and to my work dress and said, “We match!” I guess there’s still hope after all.