I always wondered if we could do it-- if she would do it. For ten years I remember decorating my childless home wondering if I had a daughter, if I would want her help or more importantly, would she want to help? I wanted to be a Mom who could pull off both-- wanting her to help which also means, letting go of “just right” AND being a Mom a daughter would WANT to help. This year, together, we did it in half the time. She was even the one who helped me pull it ALL out of the attic! She was downstairs early on “Black Friday” ready to decorate the house for the birthday of the ages. At one point she was handing me trim while I was on the ladder and I stopped to tell her, “Julia, in all our years to come, whatEVER it takes to make this fun for you, just let me know. Can I get you some more hot chocolate? Candy?” I remember the last time I made such a big deal about her helping me. I was about to begin the dreaded washing and scrubbing of the apples (wax coating and caramel don't do well together) for our caramel apple party we throw for our neighbors the night before Thanksgiving and she said, “Mom, if we do this together, it should be fun!” Well, she was right. It was fun. Her attitude made it much more enjoyable.
About half way through the mantle garland, she was tying ribbon and she stopped and fixed bug-eyes on me. As serious as the Pope, she said, “Mom! What if my husband wants to put a big blow up snowman in our front yard or Santa and his reindeer on the roof?! What will I do?!” (Sorry if you are a “blow up” fan. Our annual game is shooting them with imaginary BB guns as we drive past them. I am the reigning sharp shooter champion 3 years running, but if you ask Jeff, he will argue that. He always does. Don’t believe anything he says.) The dire look on her face made me laugh-- loud. She didn’t wait for any comment from me. She put her ribbon down and headed straight for the office where she knew her Daddy was. This was a disturbing new thought for her and she needed to talk about it. When she came back, not quite as ruffled, I asked her what Daddy said, “We need to pray about that.” Of course. I hadn’t thought of that prayer.
She’s growing up. Her thoughts are growing up. Her taste buds are growing up. Her preferences are growing up. We needed an ALL red Christmas dress for the children’s part in the cantata last weekend. We had holiday dresses from last year that still fit, but not ALL red and I could not justify purchasing another dress. We were in Dillards the weekend before the cantata and walked right by a slew of RED dresses and she wanted to look. As she fingered all the ruffles, the fabric, the straps, I gawked at the price tags. No. No. No. It just confirmed the fact that we didn’t need another one. I told her in my normal no-nonsense, black and white way, “No.” But I was curious which one she’d pick......so I asked her. Of course it was the one that looked like a prom dress, complete with spaghetti straps and rhinestone embellishments--- and what threw me was the chest insert! The mannequin in the “girls” department needed bigger undergarments than I. What?? After slight confusion and rechecking my whereabouts, I was just mad. One, that they had inserts in the dress and two, that Julia picked it! My “madness” ruined the great conversation that COULD have been- I started pointing to every “hoochy” looking dress ranting, “Just look at this one! It’s a size SIX!! Does this look like a Kindergartner’s dress?? And this one? The ruffles barely cover the behind!?” And then I got to the one she picked out, “And Julia, ‘this’ (frantically waving my hand around the chest area)--- you don’t have “THIS” going on!” (Regretted it immediately but it didn’t stop me.) “If you were to wear this now, WHAT would you pick at 15? What would be special for you to wear then?” She walked off, head down and left me there with my hand on a couple of overdesigned dresses for 8 year olds. Then my head went down. Oh, I felt I was right, but I communicated it terribly. Classic Krista.
Yes, I got a do-over later, thankfully. It went much better than my tantrum I threw in Dillards. I am really okay with my anger, but not my expression of it to Julia. My unchecked emotions made it feel like it was her fault somehow. The dress she liked was pretty-- just not appropriate for an almost 9 year old. What is it with us, with culture, that wants our kids to grow up yesterday? Especially our girls. Just read the first couple of chapters of Dobson’s book Bringing Up Girls. The ways the advertising world markets specifically to our little girls is enough to bring on a need for the Pepto Bismol and the statistics of the success rates of these marketing ploys makes you want to move to a compound in North Dakota or something. Yeah, that’s the answer. I know. Bring on the sound (absent of ranting or frantic-ness) counsel of my husband.
(Let’s establish this first--I think it goes without saying but I know how Julia dresses doesn’t make her "godly". Any Mom reading this can understand concerns with the ever shrinking female wardrobe.)
Just when I am whining to Jeff about how will we ever raise good kids in this ever- worsening quagmire of culture, he reads me this. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3
I know that verse. It was the fresh air I needed. I had been thinking of the quagmire too long. It was the perfect application to make me stop and realize several things: I have His divine power to raise my kids. I just need to live in it, walk in it. He will multiply grace and peace in my parenting as I live in Him. Even in this culture of 2010 that seems to prowl around, hover over and pick off our children, what He offers us STILL works for training in life and godliness. His Truth is forever applicable. We can still live, in His power, to show the world His glory and His excellence. Praise His Name! Isn’t His Word great?
As far as her clothes go--my prayers for her (and for myself!) are that she would have the discernment to chose things that are age appropriate, the sensitivity to dress in a way that honors her male friends, the wisdom to focus more on the beauty of her “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”. (I Peter 3:4)
As far as blow-up lovin' future hubby-- I told her later that night that if her husband wanted blow-ups in the front yard AND was a Jesus freak, that’d be okay.