Last week I wrote about the 10 reasons why I hate Halloween. Not much has changed. I still hate it. Those issues run deep, y’all. But I wanted to share a little story of the love I found that day. And it came from an unlikely source.
I have two daughters. Both of them are beautiful and both of them are stubborn in their own ways. Lucy is 9 and loves shoes, clothes, jewelry and can’t wait to be old enough to wear make-up. Her sister, Abby Faith, is 12 and is most comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt and couldn’t care less to even wear lip-gloss. So it surprised me how anxious she was to wear make-up on Halloween. She was actually planning to wear her Greek Goddess costume from last year which was such a relief to this costume-challenged soul. However, it was sleeveless. And the forecast called for a freeze-warning. I seem to remember this being one of the reasons why I hate Halloween, but I digress.
She started getting her make-up on 4 hours before our church’s Fall Festival. She put the recycled dress on and was getting very excited about the night. Like every good mother I warned her over and over again about the weather. I pleaded with her to find a jacket to wear with it, or find a shirt to wear underneath it. But like every stubborn child, she swore she would be warm enough.
There comes a time when mothering with words doesn’t work any more. You have to just let them learn through consequence. So I let her be. I let her make the choice to go sleeveless in winter weather for the sake of her vanity. But since I am her mom I told her that the coat was optional. Complaining was not. If she complained once she would have to find an empty room and sit there for the rest of the festival.
We arrived and it felt like Elsa had a firm grip on the place. It was freezing! I thought to myself that my child wasn’t going to even make it three minutes without fussing about her circumstances. I was already getting angry with the anticipation of having to punish her. I already hated the holiday why did she have to make it worse? Couldn’t she just do what I asked her to do? Then we could make the best of the situation, just get some candy and go home.
I left her at her trunk-or-treat post outside and went into the building with my youngest and I mumbled to myself the whole way. We did a few of the indoor activities and then decided to head back out to check on Abby Faith. By that time it had started to rain and the wind was really picking up. I shook my head and rolled my eyes to see my daughter standing out in the cold without any sleeves. My defenses were up as I approached her and asked if she was ok. And that is when she pierced my heart.
“Yeah,” she said with a smile. “I’m not doing this for me.”
I pulled her into my arms and wrapped her up as tight as I could.
Oh, child! How do you do that? How do you teach me so much in one little sentence?
What a humbling experience! Here I thought I was teaching her that she should listen to me and wear the dad-gum coat. Really, the whole experience was for me. This life is not about me and what makes me comfortable. It’s not about how much I hate to carve pumpkins and shop for over-priced costumes. It’s about loving and doing for others regardless of the circumstances and finding joy within it all.
Should she have listened to me and worn the coat? Sure! But how many times have we all done something against what we really should have done and then grumbled when the outcome wasn’t in our favor? How many times have we allowed our circumstances dictate our joy?
I have done that more times than I am willing to admit.
Thank you, sweet daughter, for being an example of Love to me.