Friday, June 26, 2009

Shopping for "The Dress"

Yes, uncharacteristically of me I asked my husband and son to accompany me to the dress shops here in London last Saturday to shop for a "mother-of-the-bride" dress. My trusty long sleeve black velvet wasn't going to be quite right.

Initial shopping began with two bridal shows, one here in London when our daughters were visiting at Christmas. The other in Houston in February. I also looked when my daughters were here in March trying on bridesmaids dresses. None of what I saw were my style. Most were heavily beaded, jacketed, straight no-shape dresses. That, or very revealing, making me wonder if these weren't reserved for a mother looking for a new husband! Nothing that shouted "me!"

Okay, back to my Saturday adventure. The first shop we visited is considered to be a very well stocked, respected dress shop. I was greeted by a woman who was nothing like me (perhaps my first mistake.) She "allowed" us to go upstairs, practically told my husband and son where they could sit, and not move, then she showed me her "all time favorite, versatile" dress. It was a long haltar top, with lots of beading! When I protested that it was a church wedding, and I preferred not to have bare arms or back, she came back with "you can use a wrap." No, I shook my head, I preferred a more modest style. After proclaiming nothing like that existed, she reluctantly moved me to the shorter dress area. Not once did she allow me to simply look.

That was another step on a swiftly declining slope of customer/saleswoman relationship. She then took me over to the suit-straight dress- side on the store. All the time she was warning me that she had a lot of experience, and if I didn't find something in her store (like she even allowed me to look!) I simply wouldn't find it in London. I was also informed that perhaps I just needed to "go buy a pattern and make my own dress."

The first dress she selected made me look like a huge pink square. I refused to even emerge from the dressing room. The pushy saleswoman mocked me from outside, and was insisting that I "must show her how it looked." I declined.

The next dress was only okay. Not stunning. It was a rather gray-brown, dull taupe color. By then I came out, modelled for Tom and Peter, and then the woman assured me that if I had worn something other than cheap cotton underclothes it would look much better.

So she measured me, and came back with a one piece - struggling to fit into it - strapless undergarment. Struggle, I did, and all I could imagine was trying to feel comfortable on a hot sticky August evening in Houston. The dress looked terrible. It would need some major fitting, which she assured me was good because well made men's clothes all are fitted. She also informed me that I made nothing but negative comments about my body (because I desired to dress modestly???) and that all I really needed were the proper undergarments.

I explained that my policy is always to wait 48 hours before making large purchases, she again tried to tell me that if I wore the dress twice, the cost was cut in half. Huh? No wonder the world economy is in trouble. Newton's 3rd law of physics was rapidly becoming reality. The harder she pushed, the more I rebelled. After being insulted, told I had a bad body image, that I was actually saving money by buying clothes (that had no price tags!) and that I was lucky to have her guide my decision I had quite enough.

By then, I had already decided I would wear my black velvet before I ever graced their doorstep again. Sheesh! Do wealthy women like to be treated like they are stupid? Did this woman have a clue that you simply do not make fun of a woman's preference for modesty?

The next store and sales woman were much kinder. I did try on a wonderful pair of high heel peep toe shoes I'd like to own. But, when I saw their price tags, adding up the outfit we came up with, the cost was well over what we were spending for Elizabeth's wedding ensemble. Not my idea of fiscal responsibility. I am a stay-at-home mother and I simply can't justify spending money for clothes I could sew myself for substantially less money, and of much higher quality.

Good news is that Sunday I jumped on the internet, found a suitable, though maybe not "perfect" dress at the JCPenney outlet store. Gosh, if I do my math right that means I "made $1000". lol. My economic good sense prevails. Unless I find the "perfect" dress in the week before the wedding I'll be in Houston, I'll be wearing my $35 bargain dress, and thoroughly enjoying the party.

And for the Susan J company here in London ... I will never darken your doorstep again, and definitely never recommend your store to my friends. They deserve more than to be browbeat, and told they have no style. Beauty comes from within, not from spending money you don't need to spend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

At What Point?

Recent family events and dynamics have caused me to ponder quite deeply, and pray as fervently, for answers to the question of “At what point do you let them go?” We’ve been parents for close to 24 years now, and our oldest daughter is within six weeks of her wedding. The tension, to say the least, has been intense.

A new acquaintance, unrelated to our current circumstances, posed this question to her parents. “Did you ever feel the need to counsel us before we married?” Her question was valid. Her parents felt it was not their position to counsel, and it was good for their children to make their own mistakes. Huh? Until a recent conversation with my own father, I thought they were out in left field. Apparently, at least for that generation of parents, this is a common belief. Because he was hurt by the decisions of some of my sisters, he now feels quite strongly that we do not provide counsel, and must let them make their own mistakes. I can’t say that I quite agree. So far my life has been spent helping our children learn about what the dangers are and how to avoid them.

Our choice to use family centered home education stemmed not just from a desire to provide a healthy alternative to the current system of releasing our children into a system bent on molding them into a factory model, but also from a deep desire to share in their development. We both wanted to allow them to mature at their own pace, with their own interests, to broaden their worlds beyond the politics at the local PTA meeting, or the sidelines of the t-ball game.

My own efforts to provide counsel to our children have sometimes proven to be sad occasions for confrontation. In part, I do believe this is society at its schizophrenic best, telling parents to be parents, all the while urging children to ignore them. We are told to stay within arm’s reach for toddlers in the water, but then to be the bank financing a wild evening out for prom night. My mind often flips back to a Star Trek episode of a society that was required to push their young adults into the streets at night for an evening of “Festival” because this is what society insists on. We resist.

There is such a cacophony of voices competing for our adult children. They want to experience the world and life, we want to help them be wise. My father counseled me to allow them to make their own mistakes. Well, I certainly made many of my own, but knowing how much potential harm I managed to avoid by sheer dumb luck, my heart tells me to still provide counsel.

Though my counsel has been taken in with ears that didn’t hear what I said, I still need to be that mentor. The heart does strange things to conversations between mothers and daughters. We speak, as mothers, our daughters ignore as young wild things wanting to be free. As mothers we see the dangers, while our daughters see only freedom. They see the honey, we see the bees.

So, once again I am asking, as what point do we let go? Or can we ever really let go? What we desire is success in attaining heaven for all our children. At least, this is what I want. The world, instead, wants our children to leave the nest, say good riddance, and then slam into the wall. When they do, rest assured the world will be there pointing fingers back at the mothers and fathers who it will claim didn’t care enough for their young ones to guard and protect them.

We have seldom listened to the world in areas conventional and taken its wisdom as wise. So, here, too, I must insist that our job as mothers (and fathers) does not magically end when our children become adults. However, I do understand there is a time when stepping aside will come. My only question is, when? I suspect it will continue to be a balancing act of respecting our emerging adult children, and spending plenty of time on my knees in prayer.

So, my dear children, if I foresee danger, rest assured I will speak. But, also know that while you live your life as God intends, I will refrain from trying to right my own wrongs by being heavy handed in my approach. May God remain in your thoughts, and may your guardian angels remain vigilant!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thoughts on this Trinity Sunday

I only have a few moments, as we are about to visit Rona (think Canadian version of Home Depot) and our new favorite meat market Pasquales.   If we planned correctly our weekly grocery shopping won't need to happen until tomorrow evening.  Doing any shopping on a weekend is only for the brave and foolhardy, imho.  

Yesterday we all decided to treat ourselves to a movie.  The new Disney, "UP" is right up on our favorite movie list.  One of the London theaters was recently rejuvenated, and we watched this movie using silly 3-D glasses.  It was a lot of fun!  

My faith in the Disney corporation moving back toward Walt's original desire to uplift families is coming back for me.  This movie was so sweet!  If you want your own uplifting experience, go watch this as a family.  Keep in mind that our youngest is practically 13 - very little children really might find it a bit intense.  

Well, I hear Tom's footsteps, and now his voice.  Time to go.  More later.