I wrote this last year, but I think it's worth sharing today.
Someone recently asked me to write about how to have good mornings before school with girls. Just a few years ago, I'd drop my girl off in the carpool line and cry all the way home. I'd sometimes call friends with girls and beg them to tell me how to "get it right." How could I not spend my days either at work or back at home with the toddlers overcome with guilt and anger and shame and sadness and frustration about the rough morning I'd just had with Lil.
They'd sound like this...
Lil, you should wear "this" today.
No. Not today. She'd say. And then I'd start in on my rant...
"Well why not? Do you even know how hard your dad and I work for money to buy you these clothes? Why did you tell me you liked it at the store if you never planned to wear it? Why do you keep doing this to me? I don't know why I even bother to take you shopping. You know, I'd like to have new clothes myself, but I spend all of my money on YOU! You get everything and then you won't even wear it! You waste our time and money!" I'd holler like a crazy woman at my first grader.
God love that child. Lil- I am so sorry! If you are a firstborn, forgive your momma for her crazy....I swear she was just doing her best!
You see, she has clothes issues. Sensory. She likes things to feel a certain way and when they don't, she falls apart. She inherited this from me. If you know me in real life, you know I have a closet full of clothes but wear the same pair of holy jeans, shoes, and navy t-shirt nearly everyday. I like comfy. Lilly also knows what she likes. She likes comfy.
What she likes is rarely what I LOVE, and when we shop, we try on a lot of things until we both agree. If I hate it, or don't find it to be appropriate for her, I won't buy it. If she hates it, I won't waste my money on it, no matter how much I am certain she'd be the cutest kid on the entire planet if she'd just wear what "I" liked.
Currently, she has 2 hoodies, 2 pairs of shorts, 2 pairs of jeans, and 2 athletic pants that she wears every single day. No, seriously. She's in fourth grade and she's worn the same pair of jean shorts almost every single day this school year. She's got TWO pairs of identical jean shorts from Target that she takes off long enough for me to wash. Since it's turned cool, she alternates between 2 hoodies. Do I like it? NO. Do I wish she were into cute ruffly clothes with polka dots and stripes? YES. Do I envy those moms with girls in adorable outfits and matching bows? Maybe. (If that is you, ENJOY IT! It is a GIFT!)
But I now see it like this, we can have PEACE and a Mostly Joyful home or I can have MY WAY and, I choose peace. (Because for too many years I chose MY WAY, and my way led to too many tears on both of our parts.)
Now we let her choose what she wears to school.
We do have rules. She has to be weather appropriate. She can't leave the house without her hair combed, teeth brushed, sometimes lotion on, deodorant, and appropriate shoes. But she gets to choose what she wears to school, Even if it's the same few things over and over.
I choose to let it go when she repeatedly wears the "free" shirt that she got at swim team or church camp and leaves the CUTE clothes that she knew she'd love in the store, hanging in the closet.
When I buy clothes, I often LOVE them in the store and hate them when I get home, so I return them. Problem solved. Or they hang there until I finally decide to Goodwill them. Again, problem solved and nobody is hollering at me about it. I love having these two options, but would have been furious with her or gave her the whole, "You shouldn't have asked me to buy that if you weren't planning to wear it" spill if she changed her mind about her clothes. I should have given her the same solution to unwanted clothes that I had. Now I know better.
Choose to love them more than the clothes that you spent your hard earned money on. Oh boy, How many times did I nail her with, "DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW HARD YOUR DAD AND I WORK FOR MONEY TO BUY YOU THESE CLOTHES, YOUNG LADY?"
This wise lady at Justice once said to me, "Buy the clothes that you both agree on. Don't take off any tags until they wear them. If they haven't worn them in two weeks, bring them back. They've changed their mind." That advice was BRILLIANT.
I hope that we can guide them to make good decisions while they are kids and when they grow up, hopefully they won't be paralyzed by indecisiveness. I have no real evidence to prove that theory. But practice making decisions has to help, right?
I've had to work on letting go of what others think of us. I want to care more about HER than what OTHERS think of her. (Chances are, no one is even thinking about her clothes anyway! I used to teach, and I couldn't even remember what I had worn the day before, much less the kiddos.) I used to worry...will people think she only has 2 sweatshirts to wear!?!?! Will they think I'm a rotten mom? Will they think I can't even control my own kiddo?
I was far too worried about other people's opinions and it wrecked us.
My focus was on the outside and I was squashing her inner beauty in the process.
For the past few years we have focused on her heart and you can't help but look at her and see her Beauty and Confidence and Joy, not because of what clothes she's wearing, but because of who she is on the inside. Who God uniquely created her to be.
I used to believed that being a good mom was about being in control. I somehow got this idea that I'd say "jump" and they were supposed to say, "how high Mommy?" I know. I know. Completely unrealistic. Some kids really are born pretty easy. We have a few of that kind too. But that's not realistic. Don't set yourself up with that high of a standard for yourself, or your kids. You will fail every day, every time. If you were blessed with a Strong-willed one, it just doesn't work that way. And in the long run, it's such a good thing!
I know that this post is too long already, but if we squash their spirits before they get out the door, how can we expect them to go to school and be loving? To shine their light? If we scream and shout and holler like crazy people over small things like clothes, do you think they'd maybe go to school and be afraid to speak to other adults for fear of another grown-up telling them off because their idea was different from their own????
I can't prove that theory either.
Let my vast heartache (and Lil's) be your ticket to JOY. At least consider it. We are called to LOVE. That's it.
Swallow your Pride for the Love of your Girl! You'll be amazed at who she transforms into. I Promise!