Above the Clouds the Sun is Shining | Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

December 2, 2011

Above the Clouds the Sun is Shining

Today is Little Chica's preschool tea party.  Letters were sent home weeks in advance, instructing parents to dress up their little one in a fancy outfit (dresses for girls, possibly with gloves and jewelry), and encouraging the children to bring a favorite teddy bear or doll.

I've quickly learned that preschools have important parties once every other week.  Halloween. Thanksgiving. Tea Party. Christmas Party. Holiday Parties Otherwise Not Specified.  New Years. Chinese New Years. Mardi Gras. St. Patrick's Day. Spring Party. Mother's Day. 

The list goes on.

But to Little Chica, every party is special and important. It is fun, exciting and something to look forward to. I get that.  And as the mom to a first-time preschooler, I get pretty excited too. I find joy in her joy.  Excitement in her excitement. I love seeing the world through her child-eyes. Because as an adult, the magic that life used to miraculously hold has faded.  And I secretly cherish the rebirth of some of that same magic in my life, found vicariously through my daughter.

So, last night as we tucked her into bed, I laid out one of her dresses, complete with tights and a flower hair clip.  I feel slightly bad that the dress is a hand-me-down, but it's cute nonetheless. I'm not terribly fashion-oriented myself, so the latest children's styles are usually a mystery to me.  This morning, I get her dressed, and her anticipation for school is no longer containable.  She is excited. She cannot wait for tea. 

I slip on her green sneakers, and guilt seeps in.  She doesn't have dress shoes. An oversight on my part, I guess.  I've gotten so used to hand-me-downs, that I rarely shop for the girls.  Nor do I have the money to.  And since Little Chica grows like a weed, clothes and shoes don't last as long as one would hope. So right now, her green sneakers are the only ones that fit. But she's only 3-and-a-half, and she gets to wear a dress and bring her beloved teddy bear to school, so she could care less what separates her feet from the cold ground below.  And either way, she looks amazingly adorable.

We make the drive to school, and walk in through the doors.  Finding a bench, we wait patiently for her Big Teacher to come pick her up.  As always, we seem to be the first to arrive.  Little Chica smoothes her dress, and cannot keep the smile off of her face.  Soon enough, other kids filter through the doors, their parents in tow.  

Slowly, a cold current starts to weave it's way through my belly.

I cannot ignore the arriving fluffy, floor-length dresses that sparkle and shine.  Clearly, today is the dress rehearsal for holiday attire, practice before the Big Day in a few weeks.  Silky fabric, crinoline, bows.  Many of the girls have special coats for the occasion. Metallic jewelry. Special hair accoutrements. But what catches my eye are the shoes: glittery Mary Janes adorning the feet of every girl parading through the lobby.  Shoes that I'd seen over the past few months when I've been shopping. Shoes about which I'd made multiple mental notes to purchase when there was a bit of extra cash leftover.

Shoes that belittle the vibrant velcro scuffs upon my little girl's feet.

Suddenly I am inferior, made small, and I want to hug my girls so tight that the world cannot see them, harm them.  My beautiful girl is Meg March, arriving at Sally Moffat's coming-out party in an afternoon dress when formal eveningwear was clearly in order. I curse the difficulties we've been facing over the last few months, the economy for making life hard, for the world not being a more equal and just place to exist.  

Because, let's face it: it's not about the shoes.

Life is just hard. And lately, everything seems to be reminding me of this.

I close my eyes and want to wake when things are right again. What I want, this moment, today and forever, is to know it'll be ok.  We'll be ok. I'll be ok. I want someone to embrace me and say that life's obstacles are surmountable. That we will not be overcome, but we will overcome.

That in the end, everyone wins. And when all is said and done,  every foot is encased in sparkly Mary Janes.

In the same breath, as I take pity on myself for life's frustrations, I am reminded of those who are facing far worse: death, sickness, poverty, war.  I scold myself that my issues are First World Issues, and I am sickened by just how unjust the world is. Embarrassed that my greatest upset today is my child's outfit, when there are an unfortunate amount of kids on this Earth who have no clothes at all.  And yet, our financial difficulties and the fear of losing the roof over our heads is very real.

The conflicting thoughts swirl emotionally through my head, and I am humbled.

Because in the lobby of this school, all the girls are running around in their beautiful dresses.  They have not yet learned to differentiate, to condescend, to be cold. Unaware of the harsh realities waiting for them down the road. I am grateful for this short season in life when everyone is equal and accepted, crinoline or no crinoline, sparkle or no sparkle.  I am grateful that in their eyes, they are all princesses and the world is right.

As they squeal in delight, I remind myself that life is beautiful and precious, even at it's most darkest and difficult.  And on the stormiest of days, we can find hope in the truth that above the clouds, the sun is still shining. 

Oh, that the sun would pierce through the darkness and wrap us all in warmth.


  1. You are not a crappy mom. You are an intelligent mom setting a good example for your children. My mother knew that the fancy dresses and shoes didn't mean anything in the long run. I wore the same Christmas dress year after year with extra lace tacked to the bottom of it as I got taller. Every year, that dress was paired with pink Reebok high tops. Why? Because girls should be able to run around and not be constrained by fancy shoes they have to be afraid of scuffing. As an adult, yes, I've bought the fancy, shiny shoes that I didn't have as a kid, but you know what I'm wearing at work today? Sneakers. :-)

  2. The wonderful part about being 3 is that you don't care about fancy dresses and brand names, nor do you care if other 3 year olds are wearing them. You are way to hard on yourself, Steph! You are an amazing mother...PERIOD. It doesn't matter what you can or can't afford to buy the girls, it matters that they have a safe place and know they are loved.

  3. Steph this is a wonderful post. You are such a gifted writer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your beautiful little girls. They are precious and special, sparkly shoes or not. And have two very wonderful, loving parents.

  4. The honesty and vulnerability you have shared in this post is simply breathtaking. I've been there...more times than I would have liked, but I know that I have been blessed by the challenges that I have been forced to embrace (though I never would have thought so at the time.) My thoughts and prayers are with you as you deal with your current life challenges.
    I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award.http://teachinggoodeaters.blogspot.com/2011/12/most-versitile-blogger-award.html


Hey! Share a thought or two - I'd love to hear from you! ~ Steph

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