A little girl, a big girl, and a French country bedroom

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Yesterday afternoon I raced to open the front door for my daughter arriving home from school.  During the day I checked her grades online and learned that she had earned a 96% A on an algebra quiz.  I was thrilled beyond words that her studying is finally paying off and hope that her success prompts her to keep working hard.  I am trying to teach her that there are advantages to hard work in school – aside from the obvious reward of a high score, she has been after me to let her cut side bangs in her hair so I complied.

First off, the thought of cutting her hair makes me cringe and I keep thinking that I can put it off by telling her “Tomorrow we’ll go.”  Yet – every day she remembers to ask.  Her hair right now, at the onset of her teenage years, is the healthiest it will ever be and I have told her that someday when she has her own kids and there are days she doesn’t have time to wash it – and on days she does, it ends up clipped on top of her head – she will look back and remember thick, shiny, slick dark hair tumbling down her back and finally see herself for the beauty she always was.

That ‘A’ is what did it.  I happily drove her to the salon, determined that in acknowledging her wishes attached to her grade would be motivational in her teenage vernacular.  I sat in a chair next to her with my purse in my lap watching the stylist work on her – washing it, combing it neat and straight, clipping the dried ends and fashioning it into chestnut silk.  At the end, she trimmed her bangs and dried them framing her face, to my daughter’s utter joy and satisfaction.

While the haircut was going on I hadn’t noticed a little girl come in with her mother.  Her hair was long and curly underneath a hairband as she climbed up into the chair on top of the booster seat.  Her mother began explaining to her stylist that the little girl never let her brush her hair and that rather than argue about the tangles, they’d decided to cut it shorter.  The little girl plopped to the floor on her way to shampoo and her mother looked in my direction saying, “I see what I have to look forward to.”  I guessed she meant a girl with ideas other than our own, as mothers – their own sense of what beauty is – the gentle tug of war that time turns mothers and their little girls into mothers and teenage daughters – strangers.

When I am reminded of this tender balance of the mother – daughter relationship I think of the bedroom redecorations I have done over the years for my daughter.  During the first redo, I was heartbroken that all of the pale pinks and sage greens weren’t the fashion anymore and my daughter wanted a ‘big girl’ room with her own color scheme.  The first time was the hardest – not ready for that little voice to become outspoken and renounce the things I had painstakingly chosen and sewn for the perfect bedroom – what I thought the perfect bedroom to be.

We went to Calico – my daughter and I – and the lady at Calico touched my arm asking me, “Please let her choose the fabrics – allow her to use her voice – she will like her room better.”  I tried to keep quiet as she chose blue leopard and a striped pattern that looked like a circus print – fabrics that were completely atypical pairings with anything else in our house.  The entire experience – more than the fabric choices – left me in shell shock that she wasn’t a little girl.

When she was ready for another room redo, I gladly chose fabrics – with her approval – to stitch into new curtains, bed covers, throw pillows, and chair slip covers because I had never been a fan of blue leopard, but also I was always reminded by the fact that that bedroom was right outside of when she used to be a my baby girl.

I shopped for a full sized bed for her big girl room but couldn’t find the right one.  My mom offered her bed from when she was a child and I thought nothing would be more perfect.  I painted the bed in the front yard using Behr’s ‘Powdered Snow’, in a satin finish, and ‘shabby chiced’ it.  By the second coat of paint, after to coats of primer, I was amazed with the appearance.  I painted my grandfather’s dresser – my mother’s father – so my daughter has her grandmother’s bed and her great – grandfather’s dresser as her bedroom suite.  I found a cedar chest online – that I also painted and stripped off (ridiculous extra steps) leaving some areas of paint on t he trim work and edges that I could use to tie the whites, creams, and beiges together.

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                                                                                                              She chose beautiful Irish linen, pristine whites with embroidered details, and a pale blue toile.

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The walls were painted in a sky blue – the lightest shade – Lakeside Mist.

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Her French country room was a good compromise for the two of us and much easier on my emotional state to redo her room the second time around.  There is such a huge learning curve in being a mother of a girl at any age – I wish everything came with hindsight experience making life easier – as if it was always the second time around; if it did, it probably wouldn’t make each aspect as memorable and the memories as sweet as watching a little girl sitting next to my big girl having their hair cut.

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