I’m entering brand new territory with my girls. We’re teaching them modesty, and I’m coming to the conclusion that modesty is inconvenient.
My goal is simple. I want to teach them to love modesty when they’re young so that they love modesty when they’re teenagers and adults. That goal has given me some challenges.
Right now, it’s simply helping our daughters not run through the house to go get a new change of clothes, closing the door when changing, and helping them not to pull up their skirts to show their Dora underpants to the pastor. Simple, but inconvenient. It’s easier to sit in the living room to help Bethel remove a shirt, rather than getting up to go to the room to help her. It’s easier to give one bath to three children (something we’ve done until fairly recently) than one bath for girls and one bath for boys.
Choosing clothes is a recent challenge. Baby girls are easy. People love to see baby girls in dresses and sweet outfits, and they’re easy to find. After you hit size four or five, sweet is often out, and pouty is in. It’s possible to find sweet clothes, but you pay for the look. Land’s End has great choices for girls. So does Gymboree, but they’re more expensive, unless you catch sales at the right time. So far, I’ve had great success at a particular thrift store by my parents’ house; however, I’m noticing that as Bethel gets older, there are far fewer dresses that I like. Play dresses and machine-washable church dresses in particular are becoming scarce, so I’ve been stocking up when I see them. Even if the price is 5.99 and tomorrow will be half off, I snatch up dresses that are in good condition and styled for a little girl (rather than a tiny teenager). I have found that at this age, size four dresses are a better choice than size three (her size in anything else) because the major difference is length. I don’t particularly like short skirts, even at the preschool age. It’s inconvenient to find dresses because I dislike shopping (when I go thrift shopping I’d rather look for books). It’s inconvenient because I live in a rural town where the typical clothing choices are limited to Disney and Dora clothes. Thrift stores take time and are not easy with three children wanting to play with all the toys and pull the romance novels off the shelves.
Modesty is also keeping their hair looking nice and their faces clean. I need to do better at this. I also tend to put my own appearance low on the priority list, and I’m not the greatest style diva. It’s not convenient to put that a higher priority, but it is a choice of modesty to do so. I don’t want my own children or other children growing up embarrassed at the “modest but unkempt” woman.
Most recently I’ve discovered that if I want my daughter to be comfortable in skirts and dresses, then I must wear skirts and dresses more often. She notices what I wear. I’ve noticed that when I wear pants all the time, she wants to as well. Since I want her to be comfortable wearing feminine clothes, I need to set an example. That means I need to be looking for skirts that are mommy-friendly, but don’t look dumpy. If finding clothes for little girls is a difficult path, finding clothes for mommies is tortuous.
I don’t have to worry about color with Bethel. On her own, she’s decided she likes pink, not blue. This is inconvenient. Rather than purchase new winter pajamas, I pulled out some of David’s blue ones. She protested. I could have chided her, told her to stop being silly, but then I’d be undermining what I want to her be as a young lady. Instead, I embroidered a few purple flowers and she’s happy. I also want to find feminine pants for her, and that’s a challenge. I’m looking for feminine colors or embroidery, feminine tops. Femininity is a total look, not often a single article of clothing.
Modesty is inconvenient, often difficult, and frequently challenging. I’d rather not worry about it now when it “doesn’t matter,” but I truly believe that it is worth worrying about, worth the inconvenience to teach it now. I’m thankful for a mom who took the time to teach me while I was small, and I’d like to pass that heritage on to my children.