Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Separation Anxiety

My big girl looks up as I am leaving the house.

"You're wearing those shoes?"

I am. Obviously.

"You can't wear those," she tells me.

I look down at the offending shoes. They're nice. Really. But they're flat. Not the kind of flats I'd wear every day to work. They're dressy. And I'm pretty sure she never objected when I wore them to a Bar Mitzvah or a Shabbos kiddush.

"You can't wear flats to a wedding." She's adamant.

"But this isn't a fancy wedding," I explain. "And it's late. And I'm cold. And tired. I don't feel like wearing heels."

She's not convinced.

"Besides," I add, "I'm an old lady."

"Yeah," she says, "but no one knows that."

I change my shoes.

I wonder...what do people do when they are not blessed with daughters? What did I do before my daughter was old enough? Who else can be trusted to give an honest answer to, "Do I look fat in this"?

And, suddenly, a terrifying thought crosses my mind. What will I do when my daughter gets married? How will I be trusted with the daunting task of choosing my own clothes? How will I make difficult decisions like what color lipstick to wear or when it's ok to wear boots? Am I doomed to a life of nerdy sweaters and unsuitable footwear?

I'm not ready for my daughter to get married, I realize. I'm not ready for her to leave home!

Something must be done, and I am resolved to do it. I will be independent. I will learn to part with my live-in fashion consultant, and I will allow my daughter to marry.

I drive to the mall, putting my thoughts into action. I stride confidently from store to store. And then I see it. I try it on, scrutinize my reflection in the mirror, and I buy it. All by myself.

I pull the sweater out of the bag when I get home, and proudly show it to my daughter.

She doesn't like it. I can tell.

But it's ok. This will take some time, I know. I just need more practice. Soon...soon...I can let her date.

I wore the sweater to work last week, and when I got home, my daughter gave me the once-over.

"I like your sweater." She seemed completely oblivious to my bewilderment. "Do you think I can borrow it?"

"But you didn't like it when I bought it!" Could it be that I'd misinterpreted her reaction?

"Oh, I changed my mind," she said lightly.

Yes! I can do this! I can select my own clothes, and they will not be nerdy. I can determine when black tights season begins and ends. I can decide which dress is appropriate for any occasion. And maybe, after careful deliberation, I can figure out which shoes to wear. Myself.

And...my daughter can get married now. I am ready!


  1. The whole concept is beyond me. I know I'm a guy, but still. I dress however I fancy. Who cares what others say! Be yourself!

    I remember flying home from Montreal to Santa Barbra, wearing a gold vest, top hat, and glasses whit blue lenses. The border dude asked me where I lived, I told him, but for some reason he thought I said Ohio. He was like, whereabout in Ohio, I was like, no, California, not Ohio, he said, OK that makes more sense!

    the idea is have fun! be creative. dress the way your inner artist wants.

  2. Burnt Dreadlocks...

    Gold vest, huh? Cool...
    Remind me... You're the chassidish guy from the Supply and Demand post? :)

  3. As I was reading this, I kept thinking that I hope it was a joke. I'm glad you stuck in that label verifying that it is humor :-).

    When I was younger I used to critique my mother's dressing style a lot. At this point I've come to accept that she's just from a different generation and she needs to be comfortable with herself and what she chooses to wear. Now, even if she asks my opinion, I won't tell her anything negative unless it's really bad.

  4. The point of my comments there exactly! People are very external. Someone can be a 'Ben Torah' wearing a gold vest. It is how I act that counts. The amount of time I take from my day to learn. My midos. Being unique is no problem, it is something which I have spoken over with a number of mentors of mine.

  5. In other words, if you were to ask friends to describe me, they would use one word; crazy. But they would also say that i am a very caring person with a love for learning, a baal midos, etc. (I dont mean to be tooting my own horn, but im saying it to bring out a point, and im still anonymous). You can be all that, and still a fun loving free spirited person. & be a 'Ben Torah' :)

  6. SIR...

    Yes, it was not meant to be serious. Thanks for noticing. :)
    I actually value my daughter's opinion.

    Burnt Dreadlocks...

    I got it. I don't question that at all. But let's not get into that again. I think we covered that already.

  7. You sound like my mom. She can never make a fashion decision on her own. Was really hard for her when my sisters and I married and moved out.

  8. you mean it gets worse!?!?!?!? my daughter started in on me this year, and she's only 3! she stands next to me at the closet door and lets me know her opinion with either an approving nod or a loud "ICHSA!"
    lately she's been picking out which mitpachat i should wear and doesn't let me wear hats...
    mind you, this is the child that goes to gan in striped shirts and polka dotted skirts...maybe i should marry her off young...

  9. Great post! Very touching.
    A lot is relative in life -- if we're used to asking certain people for advice, it's very difficult to give ourselves advice. But once we get used to being our own conscience, it's not so terrible anymore :)

  10. Er, I forgot to mention that I pretty much buy all my mother's clothing. She hates shopping and I love shopping so everyone's happy :-).

    *Sheepish grin*

  11. Soul Comfort...

    Well...I'm kinda joking. I really do just fine on my own. She just THINKS I don't.


    Oh, MUCH worse. But she's starting young. Cute. :)

    Sefardi Gal...

    Ah...a lesson in this post. :)
    Thank you.


    Lol! There you go. You better be careful, or she won't want you going off and getting married.
    Are you sure you're not the one who's keeping her in those "different generation" clothes? ;)

  12. great post - your writing always brings a smile...

  13. As a married guy, I always wondered why my wife would ask my daughter (16) how she looked in her new clothing, opinion about shoes, etc. Never asked me! Used to bother me a bit, to be honest. I guess this is something us guys have no clue about...

  14. Lol. You make me hope a bit more for girls. I got 3 lil boys and I am not sure I am entirely ready for girls. But I can probably use a little help in the wardrobe. Listen to her, she probably knows better- she is not trying to make you look hip when you can't she is telling you what she thinks looks good on you. Hopefully, anyhow :)

  15. Bernie...

    Whenever I used to ask my husband's opinion...when I couldn't decide between 2 things, before my daughter was old enough, he was convinced that I didn't really want his opinion. I was just asking because, no matter what he answered, suddenly I knew which one I liked.


    Oh...I DO listen to her! Usually.