My eight year old's style could be described as Punky Brewster with a boho, rocker-chick vibe. (Go ahead, imagine it.) Let's just say her free-spirit shines through in what she wears. This hasn't always been something I embraced. We have had more than one argument about what she wanted to wear, there have been tears and yelling. I'm not proud of that but it's the truth.
It doesn't help when in the midst of our wardrobe drama her younger sister (she's four) walks in to say, "I'll wear whatever you want mommy. I like what you picked out." (She's kind of a suck-up. LOL.) She just doesn't care like her older sister has always cared. To be fair she's the more compliant of the two and a bit of a people-pleaser. Not saying that's a totally good thing and we are working on it but as far as it concerns getting dressed in the mornings I'm cool with it. I can't do two crying girls. I just can't.
I don't want to have one crying girl, not over clothes. Clothes just aren't that important. So I stopped caring. Mostly. We have three rules when it comes to what she chooses to wear.
1. It has to be clean.
2. It has to be weather appropriate.
3. It has to be modest.
Beyond that, I let her be her. I mean why did I really care to begin with? She asked me that once.
We were trying to pick out clothes for school. I can't even remember the outfit now but knowing my daughter I am sure it involved clashing patterns. I know I said something like, "baby that doesn't match, I think it would look better if..."
I may not remember exactly what I said but I remember her response because it cut me to the heart, "Mom, I don't care if people think it looks dumb, I like it. Why does it have to match anyway?"
It was like Jesus was right there in that room going, "yeah, why?"
Why did I care? If my little girl was happy then why was it worth this struggle to get her to change her mind? What difference did it make if she matched?
I know what you're thinking...You are protecting her, other kids might make fun of her. My husband and I had even said those words to each other. It's how I justified it for so long. I thought I was doing it for her. But I wasn't. Images of friends' kids in their perfect Gap ad outfits were flashing through my mind. My own jealousy and insecurities were rearing their ugly little heads. I was thinking of what people would think of me, how they would judge me. I was putting the weight of my weakness on my little girl's shoulders and it wasn't right. (Was I also teaching her to prioritize image, what's on the outside more than the inside? Probably, but I didn't mean to.)
You know what? There will always be a mean kid and that kid will find something to make fun of. There will be a day when my daughter comes home crying because someone said something that hurt her. But I refuse to be the one who breaks her spirit. I refuse to be the one planting those seeds of insecurity in her mind and heart. I refuse to be the one handing her the poison of a culture's standards that will destroy her self-worth. I refuse to be the one teaching her what she looks like is more important than who she is.
God made my little girl. She is beautiful, smart, funny, creative, helpful, compassionate and a million other wonderful things that make my heart so proud to be her mama. She is also fierce and will one day face this world as a woman to be reckoned with, one full of boldness and strength and joy. When I see that image of her, who God created her to be I couldn't care less what she's wearing so I will choose to care less now.
If she wants to go to Walmart in polka dot leggings and cowgirl boots with a safari hat I'm gonna let her. If she wants to go to school in ripped jeans and combat boots with a purple stripe in her hair I'm gonna let her. If she wants to head to church wearing three different patterns I'm gonna let her. I'm not just gonna let her, I'm gonna be proud to hold her hand and be her mama. (I'll probably be in combat boots myself anyway. She's teaching me some things.)