“But I Want the Braid, Mama”

“But I Want the Braid, Mama”

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 Bibbidi Bobbidi 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.

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  1. Glendaliz Rodriguez
    November 9, 2017 / 8:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing! And it is so true we have a vision for our children but we forget that they have their own likes and their own wants. And how interesting that we ended up doing the same our parents did if we are not conscious of how we are behaving at that moment. It’s so great that you realized it at that moment, acknowledged it and apologized to your little girl. I truly believe that at that moment you both learned so much! I believe our children are constantly teaching us.

    • Shannnon
      November 10, 2017 / 12:35 am

      Thank you for reading, Glenaliz! I think you’re right – our kids are the best teachers!!

  2. October 8, 2017 / 9:57 pm

    Remembering how important our words are as parents is a heavy weight to carry but one that is crucial. Amazing you were able to fix the day and make it amazing for her!

    • Shannnon
      October 15, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      So crucial. Thank you so very much!

  3. September 29, 2017 / 9:24 am

    Love this post so much!! You are really a very good writer if I haven’t told you that already!

    • Shannnon
      October 2, 2017 / 2:05 am

      Thank you so much, my friend!

  4. September 29, 2017 / 12:15 am

    Such a sweet story and so relatable Shannon. Your an awesome mom and just know you can always talk to her about the whole thing and I bet you would feel so much better.♥️😘

    xo, Nicole

    • Shannnon
      October 2, 2017 / 2:06 am

      Thank you so much, Nicole! I appreciate your kind words. Thanks for reading!

  5. September 28, 2017 / 3:13 pm

    What an important lesson. It’s a struggle but I’ve learned earlier on like you to let my daughters choose their own clothing and hairstyles as long as its appropriate to age and weather. It builds confidence and allows them to own their choices, which in my opinion is invaluable. Don’t be so hard on yourself because in the big scheme of things she won’t remember much but it’s great that you’ve taken away something so valuable. You’re a great mom and you’re doing a great job!

    • Shannnon
      October 2, 2017 / 2:06 am

      Thank you, Angela! It can be so hard to let them be independent! Thanks for the love!

  6. September 28, 2017 / 10:22 am

    So I’m sitting here reading this with tears in my eyes. We have these dreams for our kids which may not be at all their dreams. Instead of letting them be we persuade and coax thinking we know what’s best while we don’t actually. Thank k you for this reminder. Let’s hope we don’t scar our children too much in the long run.

    • Shannnon
      October 2, 2017 / 2:08 am

      You’re so right! And, I’m sure there will be some inevitable scarring. I mean, what would they tell their therapists otherwise, right?! We’re all just doing our best and are in it together. Thanks for reading, my friend!

  7. September 28, 2017 / 9:53 am

    This is very relatable!!!! I am constantly being a B and telling Scarlett that she doesn’t match and her outfit isn’t “right.” After lots of thinking about it, I said F it, she can wear whatever. She. Wants. It makes her happy and its not that serious. Love this post girlfriend. You are amazing!

    • Shannnon
      October 2, 2017 / 2:09 am

      Aw thank you so much! It is SO hard for me to let her do her own thing but I really need to get better at it!

  8. September 28, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Oh, sweet Mama. Kudos for having such a soft heart for motherhood. You are doing a GREAT job because you have the big goal in mind. This post almost made me burst into tears. My girl is 17 and although she is a very confident, strong-willed darling, it’s so obvious that she wants my approval (and still asks my opinion!!!). I’ve messed up so many times because it takes practice. I now try to pause before responding to make sure my words are honest but not heartbreaking for a precious girl heart. It’s working and we have a great time. We aren’t perfect and they will learn volumes from our mistakes and learn that they aren’t supposed to be perfect either!
    Keep up the great work!

    much love,
    The How-to Guru

    • Shannnon
      October 2, 2017 / 2:11 am

      Thank you so much for reading and for your kind, thoughtful response! This whole motherhood thing isn’t for the faint of heart but you’re right in that we’re all learning along the way. Thanks again, Shan!

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