When I was a little girl of 3, we were all going to the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade that they threw for my mom....
Oh. Yes. That gigantic parade was for my mom. Her birthday is March 17th and she told us, joking, that the parade was for her and we believed it for a long time. Maybe an embarrassingly long time.
So she took me to Elizabeth Arden and had them cut my hair, not hers, to celebrate the trip to the city. She loved how curly my hair would look after sitting under the heat lamps. But in the more realistic world, my hair was cut at the barber's with my 4 brothers. But when she could, she would bring me to Elizabth Arden. Until I was older she would tell the hairdressers how to cut my hair. I wanted it long. She knew I would never be able to manage my crazy hair long.
When we would go clothes shopping, a loathsome chore for a long time that one day became quite fun, she would send me into the dressing room after some initial walks around and gathering of clothes on my part. She would then proceed to throw over the door all the clothes I had made a face at as she held them up. "You're in there already. Humor me." 90% of the time the clothes she threw over the door came home with us, fitting me well and suiting me. "You can't tell from the hanger. You have got to try it on."
My mom has always been vocal about my fashion don'ts. "All of your taste is in your mouth." And when I got it right. "Well look at you! My little, little lily! You look FAB!"
She told me when to tuck things in. "Always. You need to show them you have a waist." was the mantra in my heaviest days. "Always. You look finished tucked in. And buy a belt!" was what I was told when thinner. She finally got fed up and bought me a belt. I was 6 months pregnant.
(Cue the crickets.)
When I was starting a new school year as a teacher, she would take me to Talbots. I could get the nice stuff there and then wear mainly my more 1st Grade teacher friendly clothes most of the week. I was all set for Parent Teacher conferences and School night... Last year she took me shopping since it was my birthday and I was teaching again. Like old times. We had fun as always, but the change is that I don't need her to buy my clothes anymore. She knows I have my style and that I can afford clothes. And that no matter what that I will avoid an iron, a tailor, and a Dry Cleaners and that just makes her want to throw her hands up and curse me to damnation. It cuts out a lot of the clothes she wants me to get.
It is harder now for us to schedule an outing like that for reasons that come with age and change. So every few weeks I will come home from errands or work and will find a box on my porch. Big names. Foreign names. Fancy names. Inside those boxes are clothes I would never in a million years have seen, let alone buy. (They all need to be Dry Cleaned for the love of Pete) I drop what I am in the midst of doing and try on the garment and walk into my daughter's room for the almost full length mirror.
It is a hit.
90% of the time it remains a hit. My husband will see it and say, "Wow! When did you buy that? I like that. It suits you!" and I will say, "Trixie. Of course." and give him a hard time about not liking my Eddie Bauer wear.
The clothes she sends will never be corduroy.
Never a pair of jeans.
If it is a sweater, it won't be cotton, but it also won't be wool because she knows I am sensitive to it. It will most likely be a cashmere situation and Oh. My. Lord.
It won't be a turtle neck because she knows I can't bear anything on my neck.
It will be in a color I never buy.
It will be a style I have never tried.
If it is Spring or Summer it will be clothing of the softest family of pinks and I know that is because I am always, always her one and only baby girl.
I used to wonder how she felt when I was heavy having to take me shopping when she was so petite and lovely. She never made me feel this way. Never. I just thought about it. I have come to realize that though some of the battles in the dressing rooms were bloodied, and that the pain I felt in having to go up a size was nothing compared to the pain she felt for me having to feel such pain, the whole experience was about having a day together. A memory every time I put the new article of clothing on. She keeps that connection going through the mail. I call her immediately and she cheers that it arrived and fit. It is great.
I went to her house a few weeks back wearing a lovely, soft brown sweater jacket.
"That is a fabulous sweater! I have one like it in blue! Where did you get it? TJ Maxx?"
"I got it from you, mom."
"Of course you did. It looks wonderful. And it was TJ Maxx."
A hand waving the thanks away.
My arms, warm in her sweater, surrounding her with all the love right back.