“For each of us, there comes a time to let go. You will know when that time has come. When you have done all that you can do, it is time to detach. Deal with your feelings. Face your fears about losing control. Gain control of yourself and your responsibilities. Free others to be who they are. In so doing, you will set yourself free.”
Today, my 3-year old daughter chose to dress herself in a very cheesy (to be honest, horrendously ugly) shirt she received for Christmas. In fact, it has a gigantic Christmas tree on the chest with mini-stuffed figures (e.g., gingerbread cookie) made out of felt stitched to it. Rather than returning it to the store, I had dutifully washed it and placed it in her drawer.
When she saw it this morning, her eyes lit up and her shoulders hugged the sky with anticipation. Unsurprisingly, she chose it as her shirt for the day.
I tried to find the best poker face I could muster (so she wouldn't feel embarrassed or judged). I calmly asked, "Christmas is over, honey. This has a Christmas tree on it. Do you still want to wear it?" "Yes, mommy", she said. As usual, there was determination in her voice and absolutely no doubt in her mind that this was her chosen shirt today. She was going to go to school and show all of her teachers and friends how cool her shirt was.
A small part of me worried that someone may tease her (I suppose that's what bullying would be at age 3). For a moment, I wondered how different the fear would be if she was a bit older. But in all reality, I felt confident she would not teased at her preschool and if it were to happen, one of the teachers would gently use it as a teaching moment. So I put aside my irrational fear and chose not to protest.
As I walked with her out of her room and into the master bedroom where my husband was, I whisper-warned him, "Just warning you, her outfit choice is interesting today." Rather than watching her as she approached him, I carefully observed his face as he saw the details of the shirt. I was proud of his poker face. Much more impressive than mine.
This was our very small practice of "letting go" for today. To let her be herself.
A 3-year old child, excited to wear her ugly Christmas shirt in mid-January.