Wow. I’ve hit a milestone. But, it’s taken me more than a few weeks to realize this. In fact, I had to tell the story a number of times before I understood my own personal growth as a parent.
Here’s the story: My oldest had her first “big” dance – the 8th grade semi-formal – at the end of May. And, of course, the kid needed a new dress as well as all the fixings. So, when chatting it up with another mom, this other mom suggested a trip to a university town about an hour and a half away because of a special section of shops. She told me the middle section is a funky dress shop that carries everything from light-hearted fun dresses to formal gowns. The space beside the dress shop houses an accessory store, and the space on the other side has all the shoes. Now, this mom has been through this all before, so I trust her advice and was excited when she said we could find everything we needed in one spot, AND, most importantly, it wouldn’t cost us very much. So, off we went.
On the way to the shopping area, I tried to get a feel for what my daughter had in mind, and she told me she wasn’t sure what she wanted. I tried to picture in my mind all the types of dresses I thought would look good on her. And, of course, I could easily conjure up a range of acceptable styles and colors that I would like to see on her. Then, my daughter said she just wanted to try on a lot of dresses and see what she likes. Key words = WHAT SHE LIKES. I instantly realized, I needed to just back off and actually let her go through the process without me getting too pushy about certain styles and colors. I actually felt my heart beat faster at this thought because there are so many things I don’t want her to wear. And, a dress shop in a university town probably has a lot of “unacceptable” styles. Could I actually do this? Shut my mouth and not share my critical opinion? Well, I decided I needed to “be brave” and do this for her so she could actually feel like the young independent girl I’m trying to raise.
So, what happened? My daughter milled around the dress portion of the store, found about five or six different dresses and was ready to try. I, determined to remain “brave,” stood by and waited. When the first dress was on, my daughter opened the door and said, “I love it!” Well, I didn’t. Not necessarily because of the style. I just didn’t like the color. But, I managed something like, “Yes, that is really cute. I can’t wait to see the next one.” It took her a moment, of course, to get the second one on, but when the door flew open, I was just soooo happy! The dress was perfect! As well as under $50!! But, I knew I needed to stick with the plan and repeated what I said about the first dress.
I kept it up through the rest of the dresses, and then guess what happened? She picked the second dress that I loved! I was so happy. And, the rest just fell into place. My daughter found shoes that matched perfectly (Yes, they were too high, but I kept my mouth shut about that.) and jewelry that tastefully complimented her outfit.
When we left the shops, it was obvious that my daughter was delighted she found what she wanted. I was happy, of course, that she picked the dress I liked the best.
But, as I mentioned earlier, I now realize what a big step that day was for me. While it’s sometimes hard for me to believe, my kids aren’t little anymore! I needed to “let go” and let my daughter “own” the process that ended up making both of us happy. The direct result? In addition to increasing her excitement about the dance, simple restraint on my part added to her growth as a young person and to my growth as a parent.
Have you experienced something similar? I’d love to hear it if so.