It was Saturday morning, and my daughter was packing for a sleepover at a new friend's house. Phone numbers and parent's names had been exchanged, and her brother David and I were looking forward to a quiet movie night with just the two of us.
I had a load of freshly washed laundry in a basket under my arm as I stopped outside the door to her room.
"Anna, do you need a pair of jeans for tomorrow?"
"Yeah. Mom, where's my Hollister shirt?" She asked, pulling things randomly from her dresser drawer and tossing them in a heap on the floor.
"It should be in there. Don't you have two?"
"Yes, and I need one for tomorrow. And I need to change before I go over, but I want to wear an Aeropostale shirt."
I looked at her cute black tee-shirt with its artsy design and saw that it was perfectly clean. In fact, she'd only changed out of her pajamas half an hour ago.
"What's wrong with what you're wearing?"
She gave me the same eye roll that I used to give my mother when I wanted to wear something else to someplace where I'd be seen by others. And I deserved that look. I sounded just like my mother.
When did my daughter become so fashion-conscious? She never owned an Aeropostale or Hollister shirt before this year because she just plain didn't care about owning them and I really don't care about her owning them. But she got a lot of gift cards for her birthday and now we have a name-brand wardrobe. I guess middle school has made a difference.
"Do you need socks?" I asked.
Again with the eye roll.
"What?" I said. "It's raining outside, y'know."
"Mom, I'm wearing flip-flops."
"In the rain?" I repeated, stupidly.
"Just let me pack, OK? You have no idea what I should be wearing to a sleepover with one of the populars."
I got it. The new friend is one of a group of girls that Anna and her friends have dubbed "The Populars." She didn't need to explain further. They are in, and everyone else just wants to be as in as them. Everyone including her, apparently.
So I put on my Mom voice, and say what needs to be said.
"You shouldn't have to dress a certain way just to go to a sleepover, you know. If she's your friend, she should still be your friend even if you're not wearing a Hollister shirt and your feet are in sneakers."
"I'm just saying. Be your own person, Anna. Don't feel like you have to change everything just to fit in to someone else's style."
"Mom, I like my Aeropostale shirt. And my feet get hot in sneakers." Her mouth formed the words, but her eyes were clearly saying "Oh Mom, you just don't get it."
I do get it, of course. But I'm older and wiser than that now.
Which is why on Sunday, I went to a neighbor's home jewelry party, and made sure I wore the new capri pants (that I purchased after I saw a couple of the neighbors wearing them) and gave myself a pedicure and made sure my hair was colored. I fussed over which earrings I should wear, and whether or not my shirt added the appearance of pounds to my heavier-than-my-neighbor's frame. I changed shirts three times before I headed out to my neighbor's house.
Maybe she's right.
Maybe I don't get it.
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