Granted, it was a risky move. Take overtired toddler to Off 5th, the Saks outlet, during a snowstorm – but we all needed attire for The Best Engagement Party Ever coming up next weekend. Now or never. Do or die. Armed with plenty of toddler apps in the iPhones, off we went. Things started out great. She was a doll face, helping mommy get in and out of the dresses. She loved “fashion show”.
Then, she saw it. The tulle-iest, pinkest, fluffiest, ballerina-twirly dress you can imagine, topped with pink frosted cupcake dreams and then covered in vomit of valentine’s day. It’s the kind of dress I’ve avoided having in her closet since birth. The dress that stands for everything I’ve tried to counter. Unfortunately, my child has been brainwashed by sources that shall remain unnamed (GRANDMA!!!!) and well, she currently believes she is a “Boo-Tee-Fool Pincess”.
So, no harm no foul, we try the dress on. She. won’t. take. it. off. She’s hysterical. My husband can hear her in the men’s department. This child has never taken to a “lovey” or a “blankie” but she is crying for this dress that Armani himself could probably hear her in the ivory fashion tower. I finally managed to bribe her out of it by letting her carry it, when we were promptly physically assaulted by a dressing room guard who may have actually never seen a 2 year old before. She made the error of grabbing it out of D’s hand so the precious merchandise wouldn’t drag on the floor. Ever serene, I said “We’re buying it! Give it back, quick!” and snatched it out of her hand and swept D. up to carry her out of there.
It was too late. The dress had been threatened, the child was hysterical, the people browsing through racks of $1,421.00 dresses (I know because I accidentally tried one on) were trying to kill us with their eyes, and my knight in shining armor appeared. He gathered all the mess out of my arms (2 puffy coats, 6 dresses, hat, scarf…) and in a past life, here’s what would have gone down:
ME: “Where the f were you? Couldn’t you hear her screaming? Why didn’t you come sooner?”
HIM: “I was trying to find you”
ME: “Just take this crap and pay and I’ll meet you at the car. This is horrible. I can’t believe I can’t go anywhere. Blah blahblahblalalalala.
Hurt feelings, blame, ire, pouting, and probably me grounding myself for a week with no ice cream would have ensured as well as at least 5 hours of silent treatment.
This time, standing there with a hysterical toddler, surrounded by the Beautiful (thin)(rich) People and fully feeling like That Family, and That Frumpy Mom Who Would Never Wear That D&G Dress, I surrendered. I looked at my husband and said, “I just don’t know what to do right now”. And in that shockingly calm moment of realizing that on this journey of motherhood, I don’t have the answers – I don’t even have 1/5th of the answers – my mother’s intuition took over. I knew to whisper calmly in her ear, to explain to her all the things that were going to happen between now and when we went to the register. The crisis was averted, somehow it worked out, and I certainly can’t claim it was pretty, that people didn’t stare, and that I didn’t want to sink into a hole in the designer ground. But that admission, “I just don’t know what to do right now” was liberation. Freedom. Complete permission to try something, anything, to see the struggling little human in my arms and work through our Great Big Pink Mess together.
I hope in my next overwhelming parenting/career/marriage moment, when I feel that complete panic arising, I’ll be able to surrender again, which gives me complete control in the situation. It’s a magic white flag to wave!