My seven-year-old daughter was begging to get her ears pierced. Based on my childhood experience, I chose nine as the appropriate age for the milestone and submitted myself to the notion of a solid two-year barrage of her fruitless negotiation attempts. This seemed like part of the rite of passage- her having to ask and want and wait for what felt like the most unfair and ungodly amount of time until the coveted day finally arrives and all is good and right in the jewlryverse. Until one day, I was scrolling Instagram and noticed a fellow mom had taken her little girl to get her ears pierced, declaring enthusiastically that the child had, “decided she’s ready!” It was as if a lightbulb, or perhaps the glow of a Claire’s Boutique neon sign, went off in my mind.
This simple reframing of the entire event felt monumental. I realized I was refusing permission for something I didn’t even care about. Sure, there was a small part of me that ached to imagine her looking more grown up, but it was miniscule when compared to the thought of providing her with an opportunity to make a big decision for herself. So much of our responsibility as mothers lies in ensuring our children are safe. It’s exhausting how often I find myself nagging, screaming, denying them in order to avoid a trip to the emergency room. This was a rare chance to teach her to trust herself in making a decision about her body with certainty of her safety.
To my surprise, when I presented her with my change of heart, she decided she’d like to wait a little while. The urgency to ask incessantly dwindled when she knew the answer. It was up to her. Not only did she eventually walk away from the experience with two extra years of feeling glam, I relieved myself of a battle that, to me, wasn’t worth fighting.
In the months since, I’ve worked to pay closer attention to other areas where I can safely loosen the reigns for both of our sake. On our first morning in New York City, I nearly spit my coffee across the floor when I rounded the hotel room corner to see her little lids covered in my most shimmery eye shadow. But, instead of reaching for the nearest make-up remover, I paused to consider what it would really hurt to let her take to the streets feeling a bit sassier than her hometown, school-girl self. I told her she looked amazing, relieving myself of a morning struggle and bolstering her city girl spirits. By the end of the trip, she had me curling her hair and doing her blush and I must admit, I had a blast. She never asked once to continue the routine back at home. I trusted her to understand it was a special occasion, and she understood.
Being a mom is hard enough. We dodge life and death situations for our little people multiple times a day. The stress does not let up, it only changes. If it’s not plugging light sockets and padding corners, buckling seat belts and managing screens, it’s protecting their hearts from an often all-too-cruel world. There are countless instances where they need our worry and fortitude. Giving ourselves the grace to lighten up and let go when we can makes life easier, provides opportunities to build trust within themselves and in each other, and often times makes parenting a whole lot more sparkly.
Ellie Norris is a mother of two from Collierville, Tennessee. She writes to empower, entertain and inspire creativity through authentically relatable stories of motherhood and identity. Follow @ellienorris.writer on Instagram for more of her work.