Kirsten came home one day and asked “Mom, can you bring me to H&M? I’d like to get a butterfly dress. My friend has it and it’s very nice.”
“Sure, sweetheart.” It was a very specific request and she hardly ever does this so I was happy to oblige. I was also curious to see this special dress that caught her eye.
That weekend, we went down to H&M like I told her we would. The butterfly dress was out of stock but she found a pink strawberry dress in the same range that she immediately fell in love with. Frankly, it was kind of meh. It looked like strawberries exploded all over it and also, nothing should be this pink. There were a couple of other designs that were a lot nicer but she really wanted the strawberry one so in the spirit of compromise, I got her to try them all out to see how they looked.
She started beaming once she put on the unbelievably pink dress covered in strawberries.
I tried to be diplomatic, like “Mmm, not bad but it looks a bit like a bag lady dress.”
“What’s a bag lady?” she asked.
“Like an auntie. Who’s homeless.”
She considered for a moment but she did a little twirl and said, “I like this one. Can we get it please?”
Looking at her enthusiasm, it was hard to refuse so we walked out with the strawberry dress and another cooler parrot one. She brought it to school the next day so she could change into it after her shower and I could tell that she was really looking forward to wearing it.
When I picked her up from school, she was in her favourite dress but she looked sad.
“Everything ok, princess?”
“My friend said I look like an auntie,” she mumbled, her eyes welling up with tears.
I was outraged. “What??!! Should mommy have a word with her?”
“It’s ok. Anyway, you said I look like an auntie the other day too, remember?”
I did remember. And suddenly I felt really terrible. It was a careless, thoughtless remark that I thought didn’t bother her but clearly, it did. Possibly way more than when her friend said it.
I held her real tight for a moment before looking into her teary eyes. “I’m so sorry I called you a bag lady. It was super mean and I’ll never do it again. Will you forgive mommy?”
“Ok,” she said softly.
“And you look beautiful. Really, you do,” I told her. I’ve grown to like the strawberry dress. Maybe not as much as she does but it does sort of grow on you. Or maybe I’m learning to look at things through her eyes.
I’m gonna file this as one of those important life lessons I learn from this journey called motherhood. I realise that all these wisecracks that I make sometimes aren’t funny, especially when my kids take what I say seriously.
I should take my own advice and just stop it.