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Spring Break

A few weeks ago as April bloomed into hot pink dogwood petals and splashes of waxy buttercups we had spring break.
The girls and I had been counting down the days until one week of no school.
No getting up at six o'clock.  No lunches to pack and schedules to follow.
We spent days wandering along trails in parks, picking flowers.
Legs turning golden in the sunshine.
Who could swing the highest? And the fastest?
Little feet dipped under creek water and one toddler boy ran into the creek and did one flop forward into the water. The splash of cold surprised him.  That was enough for him. He shoeless and wearing his diaper around the park shivering in the sun.
We circled around the table of our favorite ice cream parlor. Cotton candy ice cream sticking in hair.
We weaved through stores. Everyone begging for an item to take home with them.
We watched movies late into the night and spent long evenings outside.

Friday of the week dawned busy.
Easter weekend was looming before us with a full schedule.
This final day of Spring break was crammed.  Lots of errands to run and things to get ready.

Spring break broke mid morning.
"I do not want to wear that dress." The phrase pierced the morning.
It soon became the cadence of the morning.
My husband's grandmother loves to pick out Easter dresses and Christmas dresses for her grandchildren.
It used to irritate me as I wanted to pick out my own children's dresses, but years ago I decided to be okay with it.  I saw that this was her main gift to my kids and her other grandkids.  She loved dressing them for special occasions and then seeing them in the dresses when they arrived at her house.  Many snapshots taken at these gatherings.
For years I have insisted that my girls wear the clothes.  Even if they only wear the items for these two events.
My two younger girls smiled big as they looked at their Easter dresses and were eager to put them on.
My oldest didn't share their enthusiasm.
She was angry.
Angry at me for making her wear the dress.
"Meredith, it's just for one day."
"Can I change after church?" She asked.
"No, you have to wear the dress until after we eat lunch at your grandmothers." I said firmly.
Her eyes widened and rolled.
"The whole day?" Her voice rose with indignation.
Our banter went back and forth like a volleyball game throughout the morning.
She was determined that she wouldn't be wearing that dress.
I kept insisting she would.
I had a long list of reasons.
The price for one.  The dress was expensive.
I would say, "I understand why you don't want to wear it.  But you have to anyways."
Finally as I finished making beds and putting laundry away I had heard my last complaint about the baby blue dress. I didn't have time for complaining and I didn't want to hear another word.
I don't remember exactly what I said, but I remember how loudly I said it. My ears hurt as I finally lost my cool and exclaimed something like, "You will wear this dress! And I don't care how you feel about it!" I know I was looking right into her face and speaking so loudly. Harshly.
She immediately started to cry.
Regret swept over me.
I had lost my cool and allowed myself to fight a nine year old over an Easter dress, becoming like a child.
Our lovely week reduced to a squabble over a dress. 
Meredith curled up tightly into a ball on her bed and suddenly all the things we had to get done drifted away.
I climbed up into the sea of mint green bedding and pulled Meredith close.
We both started crying.
She kept saying she was sorry.
I kept saying I was sorry for yelling and being hateful.
We both laid on the bed holding each other.  Her hair damp wisps of dark gold around mine.
I think we laid there for thirty minutes or so.  My other kids playing in the floor with blocks and rattling on with their normal play.
Meredith and I just hugging and tears streaming.
I didn't like the way my loud voice had sounded out of control and angry.  And all over a blue Easter dress.
I could tell Meredith was repentant too.  She said quietly that she would wear the dress.
The whole thing probably seems silly, but it was a healing half hour.
In those moments I dared to tell her as a mother how sorry I was for losing my temper and my harshness and she received my apology and told me she loved me.
Time went by and we cleaned ourselves up and began to laugh over the silliness of Easter dress stress.
I decided we needed to play and took them out for pizza.

During spring break I broke a bit in front of my daughter and she loved me.

The following day after attending the annual Church Easter Egg Hunt I decided we had one more thing to do.
To make it right.
I asked Meredith to come with me for a girl's shopping trip.
I needed something to wear and I decided so did she.
Aisle after aisle reaped little rewards. I was coming up empty, but she scanned a final rack of clothes and picked out a dress for me. 
A dress I would usually never pick out due to its pattern, but I decided to give it a whirl for her.
I loved it as soon as I slipped it on.
Meredith tried on several dresses after I told her she could pick out her own Easter dress, but she finally decided that she would wear the one that her great grandmother had picked out.
She spent her money on an outfit to wear "after" Easter.
It was tangerine and looked bright and lovely against her tan skin.
We held hands a few times as we walked through the parking lot.
We rarely do that now as she is older. But it felt tender and right. 
When Easter broke through the sky on Sunday, Meredith woke up.
I had four kids to wrangle into Easter attire.
Little boy even wore suspenders.
The younger girls twirled in their mints and aqua dresses and Meredith timidly wore her baby blue that actually looked beautiful on her.
I looked deep into her green gray eyes and told her that I was thankful she wore the dress.
For her grandmother.
She smiled shyly.
And she did look lovely.
The day was mild and filled with Easter services, misty eyes reflecting on a risen Jesus, Chocolate melting in eggs, babies bending over new green grass filling baskets,  and family dinners.
It was also filled a bit deeper with love between Meredith and I.
It reminded me of a truth I read a while ago. In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp pens this profundity.
"The moment you're most repelled by someone's heart is when you need to draw closer to that heart."
Don't hide, but hug.

I could have decided not to lean into that moment and demanded everyone do what I said and pretended the argument hadn't ensued and I hadn't sliced the air with my temper.  But I couldn't.  Our kids are so perceptive and they know when they are owed an apology. 
I decided to see if Meredith would hug me or reject my hug.  She had accepted.
It had worked.
New life and love had broken though in small ways between Meredith and I.


http://jenniferdukeslee.com/

Spring Break Fun







Easter


Happy Girls






Comments

  1. This is such a sweet post. I love your photos and the fun you had with your family during spring break. And I love that you and your daughter were able to apologise and talk openly and make things up. Glad to be your neighbour at Tell His Story today!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Somer,
    Your family looks beautiful on Easter morning! But oh how I could identify with Meredith and her aversion to the dress! As a child, I always cared deeply about what I wore and I remember one Easter my mother making me wear a ridiculous headscarf that tied under my chin that had fabric streamer-like things all over it that blew straight up in the wind. I HATED it and begged not to wear it but she wouldn't relent. She was sick that year and send me to church with my dad and I still think she stayed home just so she didn't have to see me in that ridiculous head gear! LOL -- Oh I just love your girls! xoxo (And you too, of course!)

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful story! I love having do-overs with my kids (ok, they aren't kids any more, but those do-over times of forgiveness and repentance are so sweet and relationship-building).

    ReplyDelete

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