I have three kids. And with each kid their independence has been pushed earlier and earlier. Because let’s be honest, you just don’t have the time (well and mainly even just the patience) to help the third child the same way you did the first. My son let me pick out his clothes and dress him until (I think?) almost 5. Looking back at pictures I always think, “Oh, look how cute Jaycob looked in this matching outfit.” I miss that. Because then I look at my girls and think to myself, “Who dressed them in that?!” Oh that’s right, they dressed themselves. They both have been dressing themselves, including picking out their outfits, since about age 3. And I encouraged every ounce of that. Because anything they can do without my help is a win for me. And 99 percent of the time I’m so used to their “styling” that it doesn’t even phase me. But there’s always that one percent where it just digs at me.
A few weeks ago I was having the kids get outfits laid out to pack. I looked at the insanity that was spread before me and flipped. I explained to them it was a holiday and I wanted them to look nice in a cute matching outfit. I pleaded. I offered clothing suggestions but they weren’t having it. And then my middle child looked up at me and said, “But, Mom, this outfit looks nice to me. And it matches to me.” And just like that, I knew I was defeated. But not just defeated, I knew I was wrong. Because one of the biggest things I continually preach to my kids is to be your own person. Do what makes you happy. Wear what makes you happy. And certainly never compromise your own happiness simply because you’re worried about what someone else might say or think. (Because isn’t that the epitome of what the middle school years are about anyway. Ugh). So after my six year old schooled me in my own teachings, I zipped my lips and let them wear whatever mismatched outfit they wanted. Because really, does it even matter?!
Fast forward to a few weeks later when the same middle child let it be known that she no longer liked princesses and can’t wear anything princess-related because none of the girls in her class like them and she’ll get laughed at if she does. When I heard that I was deflated. Because that means it’s already starting. At age 6. And I know that sooner than later no matter how much I preach individuality, my kids will get sucked into that phase of life where their peers dictate what they like, what they wear and maybe even how they’ll act. And frankly, it’s going to suck. But I remember being a kid. I remember thinking that being like everyone else was, in essence, vital to my life existence. Christ, kids are idiots. I’m so glad I have an adult brain.
Anyway, what I learned from all this and need to keep reminding myself is that I should be damn proud not only that my kids have been dressing themselves at such a young age, but that they know exactly what they want. Right now they’re not focused on wanting to wear what others have or what’s “cool.” Right now they like what they like. And even if others (well okay and me too) think they look utterly ridiculous, it doesn’t matter. Because they’re happy. And they’re themselves. And that, my friends, is what is important. Besides, any time you see a child looking all cute and stylish, just know that kid was dressed by their mother. And who wants that extra job anyway?! So embrace the independence. Embrace the crazy. Embrace the individuality. Because like everything else, it won’t last forever.