Who am I to judge?

Yesterday was a rough day (as you may have guessed if you read yesterday's post).  It was as rough as they get with Hannah.  I guess the gift I get with her turning five is a boatload of sassiness and a new sixteen year old-esque attitude.  We both yelled until our throats were sore.  We both shed too many tears.  I promised myself that this girl is going to have some new rules to follow.  This mommy is going to take charge!  Because days like yesterday, cannot continue.  I felt like I was run over by a Mac truck when I went to bed last night.  And based on Tim's reaction when he got home from work, I looked like it as well.

This morning was a new day.  My first new rule was that Hannah must get dressed on her own by 8:15.  Before yesterday the routine was that I would go up to her room while she lazily played in the family room, pick out her outfit du jour and help her get dressed in the family room.  It moved things along.  It ensured an on time departure to get to school by 9:00.  It was also a guarantee that I'd like her outfit.  Yes, I'm one of those moms.  One of those moms that takes pride in how their children "look" when they leave the house.  I don't spend a lot of money (anymore) on her clothes but I like for her to look put-together and neat, with a little style thrown in as well.  I don't care much about how she looks when she comes home from school.  I actually LIKE when she's a mess at the end of the day because it shows she had a busy, live-like-you're-five type day.  I've just always felt that how she looks is a reflection on me.  I know, I know ( I hear you all lecturing me now), letting kids wear what they want fosters creativity and lets them think for themselves, blahdiblahdiblah.  I just feel good when my children look cute. Shoot me. Or sue me. Or whatever cliche you'd like to add.

Anyway... at 8:00 I sent Hannah to her room to get dressed.  After a few stomps of protest, she shuffled herself up the stairs.  After a few minutes, she burst into my room, fully dressed.  I thought she was joking.  I actually laughed.  I'm not going to bore you with the mismatched details so I'll just leave it as, I think she worked as hard putting this train wreck of an outfit together as she would have to put together a catalog worthy outfit.  Part of me thought she was mocking me.

"Do you like?" she asked hopeful.
"Ummmmm..." was all I could muster.
"There's a lot going on here, isn't there mommy." she said, reading my mind (and repeating a comment I must have said before).
"Yeah, there is.  But..." I was revving myself up to tell her it was ok to wear what she chose, but she cut me off.
"It's ok mommy.  People don't really care what I'm wearing anyway.  They only care that I'm nice and sweet."

My 5 year old was lecturing me on "it's what's on the inside that counts".  My 5 year old is more mature than me.  She's less superficial than me.  Ugh.

I wish I could live by this mantra more often.  I hesitate to write the words here that I really feel because I don't want you to think less of me.  But maybe if I write them, I'll try harder to change.  I DO care what I look like.  I DO assume people judge me for how I look.  I spend too much money (money that I don't even earn anymore) on clothes.  I often put too much thought into what I put on in the morning before I leave the house.  I believe that my style says a lot about my personality.  And I think it's because (deep breath) I sometimes JUDGE other people too quickly by what I SEE.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm friendly to everyone.  I will never turn away from anyone or think less of someone for how they look, but I'll often start the conversation with them with an initial opinion in my head.  One that is more often than not, WRONG.  I think many of us are like this.  We make judgement calls on people before we give them a chance.  We judge people on where they went to school, where they live, what kind of work they do, how they raise their kids.  But judging someone for how they look... it's one of the first lessons we learn.  It's unacceptable.

Part of me strives to be the mom who looks like she has it all together.  I am so NOT that mom.  I don't have it together on so many days.  I am usually hanging on by a thread.  But I guess I think if I LOOK like I do, maybe that's half the battle.  I meet moms at Mommy and Me gym classes, school drop off, the grocery store who I wonder how they took that shower in the morning.  When they had time to buy that trendy, chic outfit.  How they don't look painfully exhausted.  How they got makeup on their face with kids hanging on their legs and arms.  I think to myself, next time I come to this gym class, I'm going to get MYself together.  I can look that great too.  I rarely do, but on occasion, I try.

Why Do I Care?  I'm a nice person.  I am interesting, fun, smart.  But somehow, it's not enough.   I need to reevaluate what is important in myself.  What is important to others.  My clothes, my hair, my shoes, are not.  But now, without my yearly work review, without a boss telling me how I'm doing, without the "normal" ways of being judged... this is all I've got.  Now, these days as a full time mom,  the judging of myself is on me.  I feel so much better about myself on the days when I shower and wear an "outfit" that's not the clothes picked up off the floor from the day before.  Not the same black t-shirt that I slept in the night before.  When I give myself the luxury of blow drying my hair, putting on a pair of earrings and rubbing my newly glossed lips together, I feel like I've achieved something.  But really, I've achieved nothing more than impressing myself.

So here it is, another resolution.  Brought to you by my 5 year old daughter.  I will focus on what is important.  My insides.  Other people's insides.  Being proud of keeping my kids alive, nourished and loved each and every day.  Because it's all that really matters.  (Although Tim would be thankful if I shaved my legs and brushed my hair a few days a week).

Being nice and sweet.  It's all that really matters.


Nicki said...

Out of the mouths of babes! Now, if we could only all live like we were five again.

TKW said...

"There's a lot going on here, isn't there?" Oh My God! She is a precocious little minx!

Dude, you beat yourself up worse than anyone I know (oh wait, except me).

Of course we judge people by appearances, even before we meet/talk to them. We size them up before engaging them, trying to figure out the safest form of approach. Kinda a lotta like animals, right? Don't want to put ourselves into danger...

That said, I think it's a worthy goal to try to temper that instinct. I'm wondering if your Mama was, by any chance, Southern? My Mama is always rather dismayed by my dissheveled appearance. She always instructs me to "go put on some lipstick" or "why aren't you wearing any of that nice jewelry I gave you?"

She thinks I'm beautiful (as all Mama's do) but she always has an "outfit" on with a matching belt and an appropriate handbag. SO not me.

As for your daughter--good for you! I *try* to let Miss D. dress herself, and sometimes let her out of the house looking like a circus sideshow, but often she chooses something totally weather-inappropriate. Like yesterday. Snowing like mad and the child chooses a plaid miniskirt.

Anyways, sorry so long-winded! I obviously was provoked by this post!

Corinne Cunningham said...

This was fantastic :) And makes me anxious and excite for what the future holds w/ my little girl... yikes!

(I left you a little something on my site today...)

Ali said...

Maybe boys are different because I just can't let mine dress themselves. Nope, can't do it:) I love your little girl's insight! Such an awwww AND awe moment!

amber_mtmc said...

I would like to add to TKW's comment.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Really, the saying "first appearance is everything" is partly true. What are you trying to convey in the outfit you chose? I am guilty of the same thing. I cringe when I see someone wearing something that..um...doesn't fit them well so certain body parts are hanging out. An unappealing outfit, to say the least.

I am very conscious of how I look. I don't want to be viewed as a "mommy." I want people to know I take care of myself. That I am conscientious of my clothes, make-up, and hair. I want to be stylish. I won't mention that I rarely do my hair before 5...

Sigh. As your daughter said, it's what's on the inside that counts. Can your daughter tutor me?

Anonymous said...

I hope that Hannah manages to keep her wise perspective as she ages. These days I don't spend much time on my physical appearance (e.g. I just went to the grocery store and realized I had forgotten to brush my hair. Oops!), but I will say that I often feel better about myself when I do. I think there's a fine line between maintaining an appearance that conveys health and self-respect and obsessing over how we look. Too often I think my "ensembles" suggest that I don't care much about anything, let alone myself.

Mrs Montoya said...

Ha Ha Ha! I have a 5 year old going on 16 drama queen, too and I am not buying her sell on the outfit not mattering. She has got you pegged!!! What she really should have said was "these outfits that make us look homeless are all the rage and I wanna look like a Cheetah Girl". At least that's what my Princess says. But the idea is sweet anyway :) Thanks for stopping by from SITS. I'm your newest follower and love what I see!

Christy said...

Like others have said - don't beat yourself up. Mommies that stay at home sometimes can't win for losing. If we care about what we are wearing than we feel guilty, if we don't we look sloppy and then we feel guilty. Jump off the merry-go-round!

Unknown said...

Isn't it amazing how much our little ones teach us? Love this post -- it really made me stop and think about all the ways my actions contradict the lessons I'd really like my kids to learn (like judge people by what's on the inside -- hard for me, too).

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