Anticipating St. Patrick's Day, I bought my daughter a cute headband with some flat shamrocks and subtle sequins.
Nothing too much.
After all, she is eleven and what I have learned this academic year is that middle school is such that one wants to exert one's own start at a style,
yet one does not want to stand out too much.
It is a delicate balance that I recall pretty vividly.
And with a name like Dympna I also recall
that sticking out was something I was well acquainted with.
You couldn't just "blend" with a good old Irish name like that.
So what did I do?
That's right, my daughter has one of those character building Irish names, too ;)
Last night my daughter and I were baking Irish soda breads
like we do each year using my Grannie Mollie's recipe.
The smell reminds us of her and those memories are sweeter each year.
Cadhla was only three when Grannie Mollie passed, but she remembers her.
As we were baking, my daughter was talking about St. Patrick' Day
and how she may want to do some Irish dancing at school.
Now, she hadn't been dancing formally since the pandemic -
because I had to pause teaching Irish dance with the lockdown in 2020
and my vestibular conditions have precluded me from resuming classes to date.
Admittedly, I was a bit surprise. I asked her what made her want to dance.
And she said: tradition.
She went on to say that it makes her happy
and it reminds her of Grannie Mollie and her family being Irish.
It also reminds her of our trip to Ireland the summer before the pandemic.
And she also remarked that Irish dance
is a cool thing that she can do - and not everyone can do it.
That one took my breath away.
This morning Cadhla came downstairs in full regalia.
She wearing her black Irish dance warm-up track suit
which is adorned in Kelly green and white Celtic designs.
She also had the subtle sequin Shamrock headband I bought her.
In its totality there was nothing subtle about this ensemble.
I was a little surprised. But I loved it.
She then looked at me and asked, "Mom, be honest, is it 'too much'?" referring to her outfit.
I could not have loved her more in that moment
and I gently asked her back, "Too much for whom?"
We chatted a little bit and I asked her
what made her choose that outfit today, St. Patrick's Day.
It makes me proud to be me, proud to Irish, happy I can dance.
And I asked her how does she feel when she dances, when she's being herself?
My sweet sixth grader said: Free and awesome.
I reminded her that she gets to choose how to express herself and how she feels.
So, how did she feel?
Proud and ready to dance and
then to deliver some of Grannie Mollie's soda bread later on.
Next time you find yourself wondering
if you are "too much" - gently ask 'too much' for whom?
And then grab your most subtle sequins let them shimmer :)