It’s bad when your three year old decides you need fashion advice.
“Let me help you, Mommy.”
That’s where my current realities are reflected — in the un-mincing words of a pre-K fashion critic.
She rattles the hangers in an mashup of pure wonder at the swinging plastics and pure disregard for the falling ones. Clicketyclicketyclickclickclick. I’ll untangle the pile later.
In her outstretched arm, she holds the winner: the choicest linen in all of Closetdom.
“You’ll look like a princess, Mommy!”
To her, there is no greater aspiration.
Today, her selection actually works. It’s weather appropriate and even from this decade. It also matches the genre of my various meetings and responsibilities.
She furrows her brow as I pair it with blue jeans and a layering tank. These were not her choices. Had I misunderstood? I lay out her clothes and she lays out mine — why was I not cooperating?
She breathes a sigh of relief as I add the final piece to the ensemble — that treasure discovered in mommy’s wardrobe.
“Oooooh, so pretty.”
I hadn’t realized royal garments themselves had been hanging from my stock Closetmaid that whole time. But her reaction shows me she sees it like it is.
And just like that, I’ve successfully let my preschooler dress me, a significant contrast to my then-four year old telling me a few years back that I looked “like a church man.” 2017-Mommy for the win!
What was so special about today’s shirt?
It was the only item from my summer trip to TJ Maxx that didn’t shrink from time served in the laundry room.
It was a strong trifecta of pattern, length, and fabric.
It was a shirt I received compliments on whenever I wore it.
But, for my little fashionista, it was much more.
It reflected her style: dress and dress only. Sporty clothes need not apply. Move over short and tees, hoodies and yogas. For her, the question is never: “which day will I wear my pretty dress”; it’s always: “which pretty dress am I going to wear today?”
And when she held up my extra-long, pairs-well-with-leggings print tank, she saw a dress. She saw something that — held up to her shoulders — was a dress. She saw her preference, her taste, her style. And she wanted that for me.
I’m honored when people tell me my little one is a mini me. In look or in personality. I may not embrace every fiber of my own being, but in general, I like who I am. I like who God has made me. I like how my story has shaped me. It’s sweet to get a glimpse of me in the existence of another. A little freaky at times. But sweet nonetheless.
But what about turning the table? My little one may have my nose or my stubbornness or my appetite or my verbosity. But she is also 100% her! And as much as I want to see myself in her, she wants to see herself in me. She wants to see her expression, her desires, her stories, and her style — in me. I’m confident that in her minimally self aware and developing-by-the-day thinking, she is honored by our likeness. We may not be twinsies, donning Mommy-and-Me outfits, but she finds joy in Mommy doing it her way.
Much of my days are spent conforming my kids to my designs, my timelines, my availability, and my agendas. That means a lot of no‘s and would you please justs and not nows. Hearing those is part of being a kid. But I think I need to turn the tables more often.
I need to see things from their perspectives. I need to recognize the joy (beyond just the all-out selfish wanting it [their] ways) they find in getting to call some of the shots, in aligning me to their agendas, availability, timelines, and designs.
Could some of my not nows become why nots?
Could more of my nos become let’s try it this times?
Could my next would you please just be a genuine inquiry to understand their minds in those moments?
Could I stand at the closet tomorrow and hear the inevitable “let me help you” as the beautiful song of a little one begging to connect through transferable expression?