You know all of the back-to-school pictures that parents post on Facebook? I love them. All of them. And I love to see the kids shiny and bright on their first day of a new school year in their fancy new outfits all ready to go. I like to show off those pictures of my kids too.
This year, like every school kid across the country, Emily had loads of new clothes. From skirts to jeans to sweat pants, she had a little bit of everything... which is exactly the way she likes it. Some days she likes to dress up, some days she likes to dress down... girlfriend is all over the map with her fashion choices. Her most favorite thing that she couldn't wait to wear was her new sneakers, so she searched for an outfit to go with them. She tried the skinny jeans look to dress up the sneakers a little bit, and she tried the athletic shorts look to make them look more sporty. Either worked, in my opinion, but in the
The pictures... the pictures on Facebook that all of the other parents would see. Yes, those pictures kept popping up in my mind. What would people think?! The horror. Sneakers on the first day of school? What about the pretty, sassy outfits she always wears on the first day? Can't she wear one of those and save her sneakers for the second day of school? For the rest of our lives we'll be looking back at first day of school pictures and... gasp... her outfit can't be anything less than perfect!
As shameful as that last paragraph is to admit, it's the truth. And I'm putting it out there to the world wide web because I'm willing to bet I'm not the only parent who's ever felt that way. Despite my own grumblings, I didn't give my input on Emily's choice of an outfit. As pretentious as I apparently am, I'm even more focused on my kids being independent. Want to grow your hair long or cut it short? Go ahead. I may not like it (of course I'd never tell them that!) but that's a small freedom I want them to have. Want to wear mis-matched socks? Sure.
The night before school came and after changing her mind 37 times over the last couple of weeks, Emily had decided on her first day of school attire...
Not a sparkly new shirt or fancy new sweater, but instead an outfit that she'd been wearing for weeks. Simple summer shorts and a t-shirt, and of course the sneakers. Happy as can be, proud as a peacock, anxious to go see her friends and get another school year underway. And then there was me... worried about what other parents on Facebook would think. Messed up, I know.
Later that morning, after I'd posted the pictures to Facebook, I saw something glorious... among the girls in their sparkly dresses and perfectly placed bows, there was a friend of Emily's waiting for the bus stop in shorts, a t-shirt, and wet hair. The mom of that girl and I joked that surely those couldn't be our daughters who had dressed down so much for the first day of school. "Ahhh, well... at least they're independent," I commented on the photo. The other mom replied something along the lines of "independent and confident... we can't ask for much more than that!" And that hit me like a ton of bricks. Ever since I became a mom, my one goal has been to raise confident children and, at least to this point, I've done it. There in front of me on my Facebook page stood my girl independent and confident enough to wear whatever the heck she wanted, not wondering or caring what anyone else would think. She was confident, secure... I was not.
Why? Why does it matter what people on Facebook may think when Emily, the most important girl in the entire world to me, thinks it's the most perfect outfit in the world? It doesn't matter, and it is the most perfect outfit in the world. Why would I want to teach her to wear something based on what others may think instead of what she thinks? I don't, I absolutely do not.
I'm not a perfect parent, clearly, and I'm going to assume that you aren't either. God uses all sorts of circumstances to teach us lessons and I hope that when those lessons surround you, you're aware enough to see them. On this day, He used the wisdom of my daughter, all 9 years and 5 months of her, to teach me a lesson of acceptance that I should have learned long ago.