New Dresses

New Dresses

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom

New Dresses

Your children need your presence more than your presents.
~Jesse Jackson

Although I knew we were not wealthy as a child, I didn’t know we were “poor.” I always had everything I needed and wanted, including fancy dresses. But according to my mother, I did not have enough dresses. I can still remember so vividly going to KMart to look at them—the beautiful dresses. When my mother said that we would be doing this, I knew it meant that I would soon be performing as a model, trying on new dresses for an eager audience of one—Mom.

I also knew that I would be going home with a new outfit. I always held my mother’s hand in the parking lot and through the store. She would lead me to the fitting rooms in the rear, and as I marveled at all the lights and displays of items available for purchase, she would scour the store for anything and everything she wanted me to try on. She could examine sizes, styles and prices and still know exactly what I was doing. It amazed me how she seemed to know when I was about to be tempted to dive under the clothes racks or wander away.

Once her load of dresses was ready for me to model, the dressing room lady would set me up in my own room to begin the show. After each fitting, my mom would rush up with a new dress and maybe a coordinating hat. The look in her eyes is still etched in my memory—an eager, loving look that said, “Yes, this one may be better than the last.” She’d say, “Baby, try on just one more,” and then, when I walked out of the dressing room, she would put her hand over her mouth in awe, and smile.

Sometimes, during this process, I would look up at her and see a sort of yearning. It was a painful look. It was almost like she’d give up any of her things just to buy me one more pretty dress. But even more than that, she had a look of pure love and joy. She wanted so much to give to her little girl everything she needed and wanted, but what she didn’t know was that her little girl already had everything she needed and wanted—her mom.

~Stacia Marie Erckenbrack

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