When my children were babies I delighted in dressing them.There were monograms, appliques and bows. They always matched. Even if someone had a blowout or otherwise soiled their outfit, I would change the whole crew so they coordinated. (Crazy, but true.) It was harmless fun that made me feel like we were together and things were 'under control' even if they were not. (Order is a coping skill of mine.)
Somewhere around five years old (during my Montessori-induced independent children revolution) I let it go. It happened gradually enough that I didn't even realize the shift until an acquaintance commented: "You used to dress your kids so cute."
Ouch. But that was just it...I used to dress them and now they were proudly dressing themselves. Of course there are basic rules of propriety, and special occasions are still under my authority, but otherwise I surrendered the closet wars as a battle not worth fighting. Honestly, it was a relief.
There are many things I have been forced to let go of as my children grow. For the most part I have found the shedding to be a healthy way to leave room for new skills to grow--even if it is occasionally hard on my heart.
And then there are mornings like today where circumstances reveal yucky points of pride in my heart and I realize the letting go is not just about growth in my children--it is about growth that is needed in ME.
There's a school musical performance today and the costume requirements were loose: a musical performer from your parents' iPod. I had great ideas using items from our dress up closet. Wigs, props, subtle humor...my friends would have been so entertained. (Yes, I heard myself say that and cringed.)
My children, however, had other ideas. I didn't think they were nearly as cute and funny as mine. But after trying to change their minds over the last 24 hours, I let it go. They left this morning looking like ragamuffins--dressed as two of the Village People and an obscure acapella singer from the 2010 tv show The Singoff--but they were grinning ear to ear.
Graceful God knocked on my heart with a reminder: This is THEIR show, not yours, accompanied by the realization that this is just the beginning of the independence and unique wiring (that I prayed God would allow me to steward well in them) colliding with my foolish pride.
A couple of weeks ago I heard a song by Toby Mac called Steal My Show and I thought: This is it.
I find myself wanting to be the script writer, the producer, the casting director, the set designer and yes, even the costume designer...and God says: This is not your show. Trust Me.
So I confess. I exhale. I hum.
In an hour I will take my rightful place...in the audience as an enthusiastic fan. (humming and praying as needed along the way)