A time to dress up | Living with Gleigh

The other night I had a Twilight Zone moment. I’m not talking about the phenomenon that is the Twilight series with the vampires, but rather the old television series the Twilight Zone. People in the series would have some sort of problem, then would find themselves in a weird parallel universe of sorts; often it was a “careful what you wish for scenario.”

My oldest daughter was working late at her Friday job and my mother was bringing her home, so I didn’t need to worry about picking her up. My youngest daughter went to a friend’s house that was walking distance in our neighborhood. My husband did drop my youngest off, but soon she returned home, her friends in tow, to pick up something.

After my youngest headed back out the door with her friends, the sense that I had just seen my future came over me. I wasn’t needed that evening. My oldest had a ride home and my youngest just came and went without my assistance. They are both teens, and although neither is driving yet, one is old enough and the other is about a year away from being old enough to get her permit.

The feeling was unsettling. I wasn’t sure if I was unsettled because they didn’t need me right then or  because I could see the future when I wouldn’t be needed as much. It made me think ahead to my oldest graduating from high school next year and starting college the year after that. My youngest will be starting high school next year. I didn’t know whether to cry or scream for joy. I had to actually sit with the feeling and let it settle in.

Then I remembered why my youngest had returned home. She picked up the anime costume she made for the upcoming anime convention. She also grabbed the costume she wore at last year’s convention. She told she and her friends were planning on “cosplaying” at her friend’s house. Cosplay is short for costume play. They were going to put on their anime costumes and watch anime (Japanese cartoons).

It reminded me about the time when they used to play dress up when they were little. Because my children were so tall, they didn’t fit into the play clothes sold for children their ages. So one year I hit Goodwill during homecoming season and bought several used prom dresses, heels, scarves, hats, purses and wigs. I purchased a wooden trunk from Ikea and this trunk full of the clothes from Goodwill was their joint Christmas present that year.

Gone were the frustrations over not having big enough dress up clothes for their imaginative play. They enjoyed that trunk of clothes for a good ten years. As they got bigger and the clothes started getting too small, we’d replace them either with bigger dresses or adult costumes, like the coveted skeleton costume my youngest wanted one Halloween. It was a big deal because I was not one to buy store-bought Halloween costumes; we usually made them at home from what we already had in the dress up trunk, cut from bits of cloth or recreated from other clothing we found at Goodwill.

Their friends also loved that dress up trunk. Everything in it was unique and much sturdier than store-bought dress up costumes, since they were actually real clothes. Not only that, but as a parent I didn’t really care how they treated the stuff because I hadn’t spent a lot of money on it.

The dresses and shoes would wear out and they’d get tossed. The wigs would become so tangled they would become unusable. Things would get dirty or torn and out they’d go. By the time they were done with the dress up trunk, there weren’t enough clothes to fill it anymore.

So there I sat, with this memory of their childhood play and this feeling of them growing up and becoming independent. But then those parallel universes merged making me smile. My daughter had come home to gather costumes for “cosplay.”

But for me, I knew they were really playing dress up.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website

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