Sunday, February 20, 2011

the battle of getting dressed

It is no secret that my daughter has an opinion when it comes to what she wears.  Thinking back, I believe it started last summer with her pink tutu (or was it her favorite pair of boots?)  It seems to me that most of my blog posts from last summer featured Annike in her tutu - not because I only took pictures of her when she was wearing it, but because she was ALWAYS wearing it.

Along the way we have had some favorite pairs of pajamas.  "Waka jammies" are at the top of the list (in our house, "waka" means penguin... don't ask me why.)  I actually had to bribe a friend's child into giving us her matching pair of one-size-bigger Waka jammies because Annike had grown out of her old pair and still insisted on squeezing into them.

Then there was the "bunny jammie" stage, which I did not mind so much because she was content to simply have this cheesy t-shirt on underneath other clothes.  During this phase I could at least get her to wear some other outfits.

Most recently, Annike has been wearing this "princess dress" everywhere.  When she is in a certain mood she accessorizes with crown, princess shoes, and what she calls her "one earring" (we lost the other one in the store at some point, but she is good with just wearing one.) 

Last week, a dear friend passed down a mermaid dress.  And, yes, Annike has hardly taken it off since.  At night I insist on putting pajamas on her, so we have compromised by putting the mermaid dress on top of the pajamas while she sleeps, then removing the pajamas in the morning.

When friends see us coming in the same dress for the 5th time in a row, they usually laugh and tell me I am a good mother for letting her wear these crazy outfits.  But I wonder, am I?  Or are they just being nice?  I make daily attempts to clothe my child in normal outfits, but the energy that takes and the tantrums that follow leave me tempted to simply let her win.

I have had to think through how I want to parent when it comes to the daily battle of getting dressed, and I have realized that at the heart of the issue is physical appearance.  My daughter wants to look a certain way that her 2-year-old mind thinks is spectacular.  As her mother, I ultimately want to teach her that it is not our outward appearance that matters.  When I make a big deal about changing her into a "cuter outfit", aren't I the one being superficial? 

People keep telling me this stage will pass, but I have a haunting feeling that they might be wrong and this is going to be a theme for our next 18 years together.  One day I will wish we were only arguing over a mermaid dress, instead of the low-cut, high rise t-shirt she wants to wear to school.  Why alienate her now over her opportunity to be a little girl?  When I choose to battle with her, I want her to know that it is over something important, something character-defining, something eternal.


  1. Maddy says, "I like how she likes the dress I gave her! Nice job Annike!" We love that little princess!

  2. Ashley, I totally admit I am pretty picky about what my kids wear out in public, and have been SO LUCKY that all of them will let me help them choose their clothes (or sometimes even just tell them "this is what you are wearing today") I totally hear you about wanting to instill good values in them. But for me, it always feels like everywhere I go people are judging me for my parenting skills because we have a "big family." (4 does not seem big to me, but it sure does to the rest of the SC area, from the comments I get a the groccery store) I completely admit that dressing my kids cutely is part of a defense mechanism to "prove" to the world that I did not have too many kids to properly take care of. : )

    But I also completely admit that I LOVE dressing them up in cute outfits, and channel my fashion urges onto them. Fortunately, they LIKE it and get excited anytime they get new clothes, like at Christmas. I know there will be a time when they will want to choose their own clothes, and I am fine with that (too-short top debates aside)--but in the meantime dressing is one fun aspect of being a mom to 3 girls.

    (oh, and the boy--eh, boy clothes don't excite me, so as long as he does not look like a clown I'm fine. ; )

  3. Love this post Ash. I think you are being a good mom. You're being thoughtful and purposeful in how you approach parenting and that's honorable. Also, I LOVE Annike's choices!


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