You see that kid over there in the perfectly paired outfit that looks like it's straight out of a babyGap photo shoot? The one whose clothing I wish I could replicate in an adult size? Yeah, that's not my kid. My kid is next to that kid. She's dressed from head to toe in the tackiest and most mismatched threads you could ever imagine. That's my kid. Oh and see that child in full-on Power Rangers gear running around the grocery store? Yup, that's my other kid.
From time to time, I'll catch myself staring longingly at those kiddos perfectly outfitted in their Crewcuts threads — and I'll imagine how ridiculously cute my children would look dressed like that, but I have come to terms with the fact that my kids will probably never look like the minihipsters I wish them to be.
Here's why: as soon as my kids were old enough to put on their clothes by themselves, I allowed them full command of dressing themselves, including picking their own outfits.
I'll admit that it all stemmed from a bit of selfishness on my part; my children getting themselves ready means that I get a few extra minutes in the mornings. It means I don't have to fight over a tag that is rubbing the wrong way or a shirt that is deemed too tight (even if it fits perfectly).
It also means wearing the same thing over and over again. It means wearing pj's to school on days when it's not pajama day. It means donning as many superhero- or Frozen-related items of clothing as humanly possible. It means long sleeves and leggings on days when it's 80 degrees outside. It means rain boots on a sunny day. It means backwards shorts and inside-out socks. It means plaids paired with stripes, paired with butterflies, paired with checks. It means hippie headbands and costume jewelry. It means wearing nine shades of red all at once and so much Disney.
It also means that my kids look like, well, they dressed themselves. And that is not always the prettiest sight. So while I love fashion as much as (if not more than) the next person, this is one area that I'm happy to give in on, because fashion ultimately means nothing when the simple act of getting dressed can mean so much more.
It means my children gain a sense of control over something in their little lives. It means that they are allowed to be kids and not the minifashionistas that I secretly wish they'd be. It means they are building confidence as I try my hardest not to ridicule (or laugh hysterically) at their absurd choices but rather praise their initiative. It means they learn independence by not needing Mommy to do everything for them. It means they have a bit of autonomy in a world that is generally dictated by adults. It means they have the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes and that perhaps long sleeves and pants aren't the best choices on a hot day. It means that they are developing their own sense of style.
So, do they look silly in public? Usually. Do I wonder what other moms are thinking of me? Sometimes. Do I feel a twinge of jealousy when my friends' kiddos look like child models? You bet. Do I cringe when my own children proudly walk down the stairs in another ridiculous ensemble? Just about every single day.
But I can think of a million worse things as a mom.
I do still pull out the mommy card for special events, holidays, and school picture days, but other than that, it's every tot for himself. So bring on the soccer shorts, cheetah prints, leg warmers, Ugg boots, and tiaras. Because at the end of the day, this is a battle that I'm not going down over — not now, not ever.