Thursday, July 15, 2010

Patriotic Humble Pie

See this picture? Pretty cute, huh?

Notice there's only one daughter in the photo.

That was just random; the other one was running around somewhere with her cousin -- but there's a little more to the story than that.

It was the Fourth of July. A holiday, in my mind, of considerable gravitas. We have certain traditions we observe: Decorating bikes for the neighborhood parade. Playing patriotic music all day and singing along, loudly. A special breakfast. Wearing red, white and blue.

This year the tradition had to bend a bit. No special breakfast. No bikes. No parade. We spent the morning flying home from Boston. But goshdarnit, I was going to have my family in the patriotic colors if it killed me.

And it nearly did.

Blame it on sleep deprivation (we awoke in Boston at 4:30 Eastern Time). But when Eliza decided that it wasn't fair that her little sister had a brand new dress and that therefore she would not wear the red, white, and blue dress she had received for her birthday just THREE WEEKS AGO, and that instead she would wear an outfit that, while vaguely patriotic in color, would challenge the limits of acceptable cheesiness beyond what her mother (me) could possibly handle, I just about came unglued.

Y'all. That is not the kind of mother I endeavor to be.

It was like the classic angel and devil sitting on my shoulders.

Devil: You CANNOT let her out of the house, into the public eye, wearing that getup.

Angel: Should I really care how my child chooses to present herself to the public eye?

Devil: But but but ... you were going to take a really cute family picture! And maybe even post it on  your blog! She's RUINING EVERYTHING!

Angel: How is she ruining everything? Does it matter what anyone thinks of my children's outfits? Will anyone love me less because of what my fashion-backward child is wearing, and if so, is their good opinion worth having?

Devil: Fine. Just let her wear the thing and look ridiculous. But make sure everyone knows that it was HER idea. Snark, snark, snark. 

Angel: What really matters here? And P.S., you need a nap. 

If you were to ask me what is the ONE THING that I hope my children learn by age ten, it would be this: They are unconditionally loved and accepted -- by God and by their parents.

Easy enough to say. But it's funny how quickly that resolution falls apart -- and over something as nonsensical as a dress.

So guess what? When we got out to my in-laws' Fourth of July barbecue, NO ONE ELSE was sporting the colors. For better or for worse, no one cared! My niece ended up wearing the dress. She looked fabulous. We forgot all about family pictures. And in the darkness, as Uncle Mike brought out the package of fireworks, all I noticed was how beautiful every one of those little faces looked, lit up by the glow of sparklers and joy.


Bear Creek Mama said...

The new blog header is a fabulous famiy photo!

Tamara said...

I loved the writing and the message but...what is it that she wore that day?? It begs a picture, or at least a short description :)

Hannah said...

Hi Tamara! Let's see, the original outfit was an orangey-red T shirt underneath a blue and white checked A-line dress with (gulp) yellow chicks on it. (Something she found at a tag sale).

Her brother openly scorned that choice and I didn't hide my own feelings so very very well so she ended up with an oversized blue T shirt and red and white striped leggings!

Galex said...

I'm wondering if you're being just a bit hard on yourself for not hiding your feelings?

In my own life, there were times I would have appreciated more loving, accepting feedback about how the rest of the world would view my wardrobe choices... not that I would have always heeded it, but it's useful information.

I guess the ultimate thing I would have loved to hear (and which is so much easier to think of away from the heat of the moment) would be something like "In my opinion, your striped dress would be so much more lovely and appropriate for today, but what's most important to me is that YOU're happy with what you wear."

And that's just the kind of thing I can imagine you saying, at least 95% of the time, so you are NOT allowed to be hard on yourself!