The dress that "made her skin crawl"
The dress that “made her skin crawl”

Even when there are deficits in our lives, there can be great gain if you know where to look.  


  “The grand essentials of life are, something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Allan K. Chalmers

   Recently, I came across this quote and it really caught me off guard. As I pondered its meaning, my thoughts turned to our society and its effect on how we raise our children. I think that for all of our modern conveniences and things designed to make our lives more comfortable, we have eliminated some of our most valuable tools for living happy, contented lives.

Because our society demands immediate gratification, our kids lack the ability to wait on anything. Studies show that our youth are “stressed out”. They get angry and demand their “right” to disrespect authority. They lack the patience that it takes to gain experience and confidence, which leads to maturity.

Somewhere along the line, we have exchanged the innocence of childhood for knowledge of things too old for tiny minds. Our affluent lifestyles have robbed our children of what it’s like to do, to love, to hope …and to dream.

A young girl dreaming of things of make-believe looks forward to her teen years with anticipation:

A first lipstick, her first pair of heels; the first prom dress.

Those kinds of luxuries would have to wait for our girls as we had many medical bills and hardships. We saved if we wanted something special. That something special came for our daughter Kelly at the age of ten. As she grew past overalls and jumpers, her eyes began to focus on more glittery things. No longer satisfied with make-believe, her mom’s dress-up dresses would soon get put away in the attic.

Going to the local department store to window shop took on a completely new meaning for a blooming young girl. One day while shopping, Kelly saw “the dress” for the first time.

The dress was made of satin and lace. The bottom half was made of velvet, it too, covered by lace; three delicate flowers dangled between the layers. The top half was shiny satin, also covered by lace. The sleeves were made of lace alone. There it hung, as if waiting just for her.

The cost: $29.95. That’s not much by today’s standards, but at that time, for us, a small fortune. Letting her down wasn’t easy, as that amount would be needed to buy more useful things.

Without fail, each time we shopped, I found her there, looking, saying nothing. Then one day, her eyes glazed and fixed on the dress, she said something that changed my whole perspective.

She said, “Oh Mama! It makes my skin crawl!”

That moment, I determined to buy the dress. She had not pitched a fit nor thought it her “right” to have it. She had simply yearned for it so badly that she would have waited a lifetime for it. She wore it for many years afterwards as if it were some sort of trophy, never letting the awe of that first magical moment fade from her memory.

I believe that we cheat our kids of the right to dream when we indulge their every whim, robbing them of the opportunity to appreciate the rewards of patience and the joy of receiving something hoped for.

The dress has long been outgrown. She’s an adult now, and hopefully, when she has children of her own she’ll pass on her dreams before she opens her pocketbook, understanding the value of one over the other. She wasn’t the only one who learned something that day. Because those dreams were passed on to me, I had the joy of passing them on to my children. There’s…well…a satisfaction in it all. What a legacy to leave our kids.

Our economic situations are subject to change, so it’s best not to build our castles out of sand. It’s better to build on something that can’t be taken away. Where there are dreams, there is hope. And as some of us have learned, hope doesn’t disappoint. It just beckons us to reach out and claim another joyous day.

Note: My daughter Kelly, had just graduated high school when I wrote this story for her. She is now the married mother of two beautiful girls, Selah and Gabriella. She is a fabulous mother and a lovely woman that I still find myself learning from to this day.  

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