8.5 years ago I went wedding dress shopping with my mom who was visiting from out of town. I was so excited. I had already found the dress but just needed her approval and validation. I came out of the fitting room so in love but was immediately, completely deflated when my mom said it “looked like everything else” and that she “wasn’t impressed”. She wasn’t mean about it at all. In fact, she probably had no idea how her words impacted me at the time. I was heartbroken. Later that day, at another bridal salon, I ended up choosing the dress my mom loved – the one that elicited her “now this is a wedding dress” remark. I chose it not because I had to, but because I wanted her to love my dress. It was a beautiful gown, but it wasn’t the one. See, my mom had a vision of what I would look like on my wedding day. The dress we purchased fit her vision but it didn’t fit mine.
Fast forward to last week. This time I’m the mom in the story. I had always dreamed of spending my daughter’s 5th birthday at Disney World, complete with her getting pampered at the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and dining with princesses. I had always envisioned her donning a sweet Cinderella-esque gown with the adorable top-bun-and-tiara hairdo that I’d seen all over the web. It’s what I wanted. It was my vision. Well, when we got there and my dream was literally coming true, A’s Fairy Godmother gave her a sheet with 4 different styles to choose from (that was not part of
the my plan). She chose a double braid with color clip-in extensions (it didn’t come with a tiara). I hated it. Without bashing the other ‘do, I gently convinced her to choose the bun (like I had always envisioned). She finally agreed. I won.
Except, I didn’t.
She was miserable. Deflated. Heartbroken. On her birthday.
I explained to my husband who was watching from 10 feet away that she chose a “heinous” hairstyle (my words) and that I convinced her to get the bun and tiara. His look of disdain and disapproving response of, “just let her have what she wants” was just the conviction I needed to snap me back to reality.
I failed her. Again.
I felt terrible. Guilty. Sorry.
The Fairy Godmother hadn’t gotten too far into A’s hair at that point so I asked her to pause while I apologized to my girl. I told her that I loved her, was sorry, and that she could have whatever style she wanted, despite anything I said before. But the damage had been done. She was downtrodden. After a few attempts to convince her to get the braid she initially wanted, she still went with the bun. She said it was because she wanted the tiara but I know she just wanted to please her mama.
At the end of the experience, she smiled and laughed and was happy with how she looked. She loved her tiara so much that she wore it to breakfast the next day. If I’m lucky, she probably won’t even remember the whole fiasco. But I still went to bed that night completely riddled with guilt; I could barely sleep. I was so focused on having everything go the exact way I wanted that I ended up ruining the memory for myself (and maybe for her – time will tell, I suppose).
So where am I going with this seemingly pointless rambling? What does a silly hairstyle have to do with a wedding dress? The two aren’t even remotely the same. Well, I was reminded of a lot at Disney World that day and I’m glad it happened so early into my parenting journey, long before any trips to the bridal salon. I was reminded that my daughters want nothing more than my approval and support. They want me to love what they love, despite my own wants for them. My girls want me to validate their choices and they want to fully be themselves. My words have impact, even when I don’t realize it. I was reminded that 99% of being a mom is putting ourselves aside for our kids. There can be beauty in conceding. Sure, there are times where we have to win for whatever reasons, but there are times when we don’t. Sometimes the true victory lies in giving in. We don’t always have to win.
I don’t always have to win.
Sadly, I know this won’t be the last time I inadvertently break my little girl’s heart. And it definitely won’t be the last time I apologize to her. But while I hope she forgets that darn braid forever, I hope I never do. I hope to remember that just like I wanted my mama’s approval at the bridal salon that day, my sweet girls want mine. All the time. And I need to give it to them as often as I can.
In case you’re wondering, I did end up getting the wedding dress (that’s another story for another time) and even though I can’t redo her 5th birthday, I’m determined to get my baby her double color braid.