Pretty Dresses

Children tend to trigger latent values that you suddenly rediscover and want to pass along. For some, it’s politics or religions. For some, foods.

For me, all of those. Plus, apparently, playing dress-up.

In the halcyon days of high school and early college, I was profoundly committed to an everyday wardrobe of flowing capes, poet shirts, funny hats, circle skirts, and scrunchy boots.

Fast-forward through 20 years of very-boring-suits-and-heels with matching-scarves-and-bags.

Suddenly, here I am in Mommy-land, with the freedom once again to wear just about anything I want. Assuming it can stand up to spilled oatmeal.

What do I do with this freedom?

I dress up my toddler and drag her to every Renaissance Festival in the tri-county area, that’s what.

She loves it, of course.

We have much talk about “Peay Desses” (pretty dresses) and hearing “max” (music). She knows what “road trip” means. And the other month she lisped out – to my heart’s delight – “Mommy sooo HAP-py! Mommy go wenfest!”

Yes, Mommy is so unspeakably happy to Go Wenfest.

We’ve purchased apple pies and henna tattoos. We’ve ridden elephants. We’ve tried on endless hats.

She has bumbled to bagpipes, hopped to hammer dulcimer, and twirled to lutes.

I have one great mental snapshot of her – I wasn’t fast enough with the camera – in a tiny brown-and-red tabard dress, standing in the lanes and staring up from knee-height in delight at six or seven huge barbarians costumed in furs and leathers.

As I watch my little one taking such joy in all this music and motion, I remember who I used to be.

I let myself remember the good parts again: the creativity, the colors, the joy of sharing a good day with like-minded people doing something slightly bonkers.

I thought once that I was not ready to stop and be still for a child.

Now that I have a child, I realize that I haven’t stopped at all.

Well, I have.

But in a good way.

It’s a movement of “being,” rather than a “doing.” It’s a cessation from swimming, in favor of floating.

And maybe there is some divine forgiveness working as well, expressed as an entirely unexpected chance to wear Pretty Dresses a few more times.

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