I found the perfect Easter dress for my daughter at Costco while shopping for fish sticks, fruits, vegetables and other Lenten fare. The dress was pink, and sparkly and twirly, everything my girly girl wants in a dress. I knew I better buy it quickly, or by the time I got back to the store, it could be gone. When I got back home, I spirited the dress away to my closet, to wait until Easter.
Katherine, my 4 year old and only girl, saw the dress right away. I think she must have some sort of radar for beautiful clothes. She asked me, “Mommy, please??” It would have been so easy to say “Yes.” She wanted this dress so badly. But I knew there was something bigger at stake here. So, I made one of the difficult parenting choices I seem to have to make every day, and I told her “No.” She cried. She fussed. She told me she didn’t love me. I told her I loved her so much, and no, she couldn’t have the dress. It was for Easter, a very Special day, and she had to wait.
Almost every day this Lent, she asked me for that dress. And every day I told her that she would have to wait. She cried, she wailed, she told me I didn’t love her. She tried to bargain. But of course, she didn’t know that this decision of mine had nothing to do with the dress itself.
This decision had to do with the time, a few years from now, that a group of friends would be making fun of the kid with intellectual disabilities and the easy thing, the thing that would give her instant gratification, would be to go along, to gain social acceptance by taking the path of least resistance. Another little while, and the temptation to find “love” in the arms of a boy, who might not realize that he is taking something which does not belong to him, might overwhelm her. In myriad ways, the world will give her opportunities to take the easy path, to skirt the rules, to give in to temptation.
This girl needs muscles. This world is tough. It takes no prisoners.
I love her enough to tell her “No.” To tell her that there is something more important than our own gratification. To teach her that good things are worth waiting for, and, more importantly, she is worth waiting for.
Easter came, and my daughter knew it was time. The dress was waiting for her, and she was going to get ready for the Celebration. I helped her take a shower, braided her hair, applied a little lip gloss and a hint of eyeshadow. I painted her nails. Then, she put on the dress.
The joy she felt wiped away her sorrow at having to wait. And her joy was more complete for having waited. She was radiant, and in a small way, her sacrifice and eventual satisfaction gave her a taste of the Resurrection.
I am thankful to be a part of a Church which gives me a chance to experience a little piece of suffering, to carry a little bit of the cross, and to unite my sufferings to Christ. And I am so happy to have the privilege of sharing the same with my children – that their joy, and mine, might be complete.