“Homecoming is here! I’m so excited to spend money on a dress my daughter will wear for 4 hours and never wear again!” said no parent ever. Add in the shoes, jewelry and any alterations, and we are in the hundreds. PLURAL. For freshman Homecoming. So imagine my reaction when the 14-year-old declared that she needed me to make a hair and makeup appointment for her. It was something along the lines of hysterical laughter and a firm, “That’s a negative, Ghostrider”.
Don’t misunderstand. I know it’s a thing and lots of my friends’ kids have appointments for their daughters. I’m just not ready to pull the trigger on that yet. There are circumstances where I would be glad to get my daughter some help in that department, but she meets none of my criteria. She’s not inept, primarily. She is the kid who watched 17,000 hours of makeup and hair tutorials to learn how to do her own cheer competition hair and makeup. You got this, girl! I believe in you…and the educational power of YouTube.
I’m not new to this rodeo, either, so I’m acutely aware that these dances are essentially just a photo shoot. I love the Facebook posts as much as the next girl, but I have 20, 237 pictures of my kid already. The novelty is gone. Granted, they are all dressed up, so the setting is a little different, but not “I’m going to pay for your hair and makeup” different. At least not this year.
At the end of the day, I am blessed to be able to provide nice things for my children and I do not take that for granted. It isn’t about the financial cost. It IS about the expectation – the entitlement – however, and the pressure of “EVERYONE ELSE is doing it”. So I said to my daughter what my mother so often said to me: “I’m not EVERYONE ELSE’s mother.”
As parents we all have to pick our own battles. They are unique to our situation and our child’s personality but in the end serve to build in them resilience for all life will throw at them. If we can get them to adulthood with the right tools, not only will THEIR lives be easier, OURS will also be easier. Our specific battles will not always be the same, but our end goal is, and for that to work we have to stand united and prepare these children to GET OUT and navigate life. My oldest daughter told me a few days ago, “I like being financially independent. I know I can come to you if I need to; I don’t feel like I’m untethered in the universe, but I enjoy making my own way.” God knew I needed to hear that. There are days I swear I have NO IDEA what I’m doing as a mom. Not a clue. Those days have been plentiful lately, so to hear that at least part of my parenting strategies worked with the oldest (aptly named “EXPERIMENT ATCL 12-12-98”) was music to my weary ears.
So let’s hang in there together. We can do this. One day our kids will come home and offer to do the dishes just because. They’ll ask us how OUR day was and even though it would be tempting to answer them how they answered us all those years (“Fine”), we won’t. Mostly out of pure shock. We will get there. It takes a village, and we’ve got a great one right here.
As a side note, contrary to the deeply held conviction that her older brother is my favorite, I do need to point out that for the price of one Homecoming outfit for the freshman, I got two Homecoming outfits for her brother, a senior, that he can wear again in practical scenarios, like college and job interviews…or my funeral if parenting kills me.