Hell is Dressing My Daughter

4 years ago

It happened as soon as I knew I was having a girl.  

The fantasies of ballet lessons, mommy-daughter mani-pedis, and of course the clothes.  

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy buying clothes for my firstborn son, it was just that the color palette was so limited!  Sure boy clothes were cute, but from hipster to prep, everything looked like the miniature version of what a casually dressed grown man would wear, save maybe a conspiracy theorist hoarder.


But the mere thought of girls' clothes made me giddy.  The colors! In addition to the primaries, secondaries and neutrals were all the pinks, aquas, lavenders and peaches.  And the fabulous prints!  Add to that the bows, ruffles, tulle, ribbon, rickrack and eyelet that a grown woman had to indulge in sparingly, if not abandon altogether.  The military style jackets, moto boots and cargo pants that added an edge to all the girly - telling the world, "I may be feminine, playful, and polite, but I am a FORCE with which to be reckoned, you hear?" 

I could not wait to dress my little angel up.  With her in my belly, I would go to Baby Gap to shop for Mr. R or buy a gift, and it was all I could do not to buy the entire girls' section. Practically weeping over the adorableness of it all, I'd finger the dresses and leggings longingly, overcome by visions of my modish girlchild and I having high tea at the Drake Hotel. I satisfied my hunger by getting a few irresistible items.  With these impulse purchases, in addition to the beautiful hand-me downs I had scored from a few stylish friends and their fashionistettes, my little girl was SET.

Things went well for a while. My daughter wore what I wanted her to wear. It turned out that she was mostly in pajamas and onesies, but every now and then I had to put her in something fabulous so it wouldn’t be outgrown. A few times she looked red-carpet ready even though she was only in her Jumperoo.  

Around her second birthday, she developed a few favorites.  No biggie. Totally manageable.

Then, a few months ago, it all came to a screeching halt.  What fresh new hell was this?

It was dressing my daughter.  

That adorable Tea Collection dress? The one that cost more than many things I've bought myself recently? No. The crewcuts top? The one that I bought her instead of buying myself something?  Scorned like a vegan looking at a rack of ribs.  My attempts to pull the garments over her head produced bloodcurdling screams and thrashing that could only be bested by an Upper East Side socialite being strong-armed into a Walmart dress.  I kept trying. The protests continued.  I begged. I pleaded.  I bribed and bargained. I used a withering sarcasm reserved for unhelpful customer service agents.  

Finally I gave up.  It was over.  I would pick her outfits no more. 

We had moved into the stage where my lovely daughter would create her own fashion statements, choosing clothes that made her feel happy. Comfortable. Pretty. Good about herself.  

Unfortunately, this trend made me feel disorganized and pissy. It often made me - us - late in the mornings.  And it also made me feel insecure. Incredibly so. I really needed my daughter to provide me with some much, much needed fashion cred, so that folks didn't think I shopped at Crap Sixth Avenue and Urban Misfitters.  

Hope sprung eternal, however -- just think toddler eating -- and every day I thought "maybe now she'll accept my suggested outfits." Nope. Almost always shot down. I had to get it through my thick head that, while some of it was two-year old rebellion, my daughter was going to wear what she wanted to wear.  


She was her own girl. She was not a doll. And I was not auditioning for stylist on a preschool version of Gossip Girl.  

As annoying as it is, this Mommy-don't-pick-my-clothes thing is good.  A compliant child is definitely something I'd like to experience more often than I currently get to, but God, how boring would that be?  And if I did have a little Miss Docile, I'd wonder where we went wrong, and how to inject her with some bad-ass juice to avoid her being the doormat of friends, colleagues, and eventually significant others.  

So my new M.O. is grit my teeth, and let Lady A pick out her clothes.  I leave her alone to get dressed and pray that what she comes out wearing won’t make me want to grand jeté out the window. Now that I know her preferences (this era will be known as Purple Reign) I can buy things I know she'll like.  I will launder her favorite things often.  Soon I might dare to take her shopping and let her choose some things for herself.  

And when she is a teenager and asks for a pricey pair of shoes?

I'll gasp and say, "I have a pair of classic Uggs!  They're yours from when you were two and were worn twice.  Enjoy!"

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