Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do I have to wear this?

In the morning bustle of getting ready for work, Latin Club, and Jazz Band practice before school, I noticed that my daughter and I had coincidentally dressed in similar outfits - blue jeans and black sweaters. I shouldn't have said anything. Because as soon as I remarked about our choices, she immediately launched into "remember that time you MADE us wear the SAME dress? It was SOOOOOOO embarrassing!"

She was four years old, for pete's sake!

I bought matching dresses from Hanna Andersson for Mother's Day and thought we looked just fine. Even at that young age, my daughter vehemently disagreed and scowled the few hours we wore the dresses. (Scowling really isn't a usual thing with her - she's a very good-natured person.) Afterward, I tucked my dress away, never to see the light of day again. She wore hers until she outgrew it.

Particularly for holidays and family photos, it's traditional for Southern mamas to have matching ensembles for their children. Wooden Soldier, Orient Expressed, Kelly's Kids, Hanna Andersson - there are legions of specialty catalogs that indulge our love of coordinating plaids and dots, stitched embroidery and smocking.

I have to admit that what looks adorable on young children gets downright silly as they reach the tween years. Yet some steel-spined Southern mamas will insist on matching outfits (including those Christmas Eve pajamas) right up until the time a kid escapes to college.

I confess that my favorite photos of my kids feature them in matching black turtlenecks or white tees and jeans. But I no longer insist that they dress alike for the annual Christmas photo. It's hard enough to get them together in the same place, ready to smile somewhat naturally.

As for dressing like my daughter, I'm very careful not to cross that line. Wouldn't want to mark her for life!

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