We went to lunch first, then we went to Macy's, then Dillard's and Nordstrom and Delia's. We gathered stacks of dresses. The girls tried them on, passed them back and forth and posed for pictures.
They giggled, enthused and complimented each other. They tried on outrageous things they'd never wear and enjoyed showing off.
Not once were any discouraged by something that didn't fit right or looked silly. They just kept on, clearly enjoying themselves.
They preened and pranced, admiring themselves unabashedly.
They might not have liked some of the frocks, but they loved looking at themselves! They were not embarrassed to be admiring, but nor were they vain.
There was no sense of comparison with one another; none whatsoever. Not once did I hear any girl put herself down.
After they tired, they wanted ice cream. They all ordered and ate large servings, unselfconsciously. We looked at the pictures I had taken and confirmed our favorites. We returned to the places we had "held" the options and made our purchases. The girls were sensible about price and courteous with the sales clerks as they completed their own transactions.
We made a brief stop in the shoe department and then proceeded to hats. For what is a shopping excursion without some hat modeling? Large brims, church-lady styles and newsboy caps. All took a turn and our laughter was so loud I feared we'd be asked to leave. It was nearing six o'clock when we decided to call it a day.
Once back in the minivan and headed for home, they bubbled with plans to practice hair and make-up.
"Can they sleep over, Mom? Can they? Please?"
"Let's check with their parents. If it's okay with them, it's okay with me."
We've had pizza, dress modeling and make-up demos. I've stayed out of the way, admiring the efforts and enjoying, vicariously, the fun.
Long ago, when my precious B was born, I hoped and hoped that our house would be the house where the neighborhood kids gathered. Mine, growing up, was not. I wanted our home to be a place where my kids' friends felt comfortable and welcome. I never intended to be the "cool" mom. I wanted to be the "nice"mom, who genuinely welcomed their friends and whom their friends considered "safe"- to talk to and to hang around. My Mom was many wonderful things, but she didn't much care for my having kids over and made no effort to know my friends. I always felt it was annoying to her for me to have my friends around, so I rarely did. It was one way I wanted to be different from her.
I watched these three young women today with awe of their self-confidence and poise; their sense of their own style and their appreciation of each other. They are so unlike the 13 year old who I was. They seem to possess an unconscious understanding that their own unique beauty is neither lessened nor increased by the beauty of those around them. I hope they never lose that.
Now I sit before the fire with a glass of wine, listening to the chatter coming from upstairs and the soft singing of a popular song by three voices. I hear the clicks of their tools as they curl one girl's hair and straighten another's. And I think to myself,
"This. This is what I have always wanted and I've got it."