Nanny’s Mirror

My Nanny made a lot of my clothes when I was young and continued to hem, alter and “fix” my dresses even through college. She was an amazing seamstress. She had a sewing room in her house with drawers full of material and old Simplicity patterns to make clothes. You know those brown crinkly papers that had lines on them and you just trace and cut the material out and then sew it together? Ya. Those. And right outside her sewing room was a full length mirror on a closet door where all of us stood MANY times to get “pinned”. She would stack 10-12 straight pins in her mouth then get down on the ground and start pinning the hems and waists and sleeves up to where they needed to be. Most often everything was too long and big for us Ellis girls. We are all short. I was so upset that no dress ever fit me off the rack…..I WAS.

So many many times I stood in front of that mirror and picked apart my body for every flaw. I hated being “too short” having “no boobs” and a long face and skinny arms. I would complain sometimes about it all. And Nanny would give my leg a “love tap” or say “oh don’t be silly you look great”. She never fed my ego. She wasn’t one to GUSH and be wordy. To her it was a fact. And she stated it as if it was. “Dont be ridiculous, you are perfect”. It’s as if it wasn’t an opinion when she said it. And you believed it. Of course I am perfect. Its the dress thats off. And Nanny will fix that. She’ll make the dress fit me perfectly. And she always did.
I didn’t realize what a gift she was giving me then. Too young. Too dumb. Too self absorbed. The gift of self esteem and love.
Today I went prom dress shopping with my almost 18 year old daughter. Its hard to even type that. All of those people who told me when they were 5 and 6 and 7 years old to just enjoy every second were right. I hated those people at the time. Messy house, play dough on the walls, refusing to sleep, teething, homework fights, lack of sleep, lack of a life, bags under my eyes, wishing time would pass. And then it did. And here I am. And here she is. She put that first dress on today and walked out to stand in front of the huge mirrors in the store and I had to catch my breath.  I know every Mom thinks their kid is gorgeous. But mine is gorgeous inside and out. And its pretty cool.
And the straps on the dress she chose have to be adjusted a little (Ellis short torso). So for one tiny brief mili-second I thought “Nanny can do it”. And she could. She could and she would. If she were here. I squatted down to look at the bottom of the dress and had about a million flashbacks of Nanny squatting to pin my dresses. And I just kept telling Maddie how beautiful she looked and remembering that Nanny told me that too. And that it MATTERED that she told me that. It MATTERED that she told me I was smart and capable and beautiful. It mattered a lot.
Maybe this is why I get upset when people insult kids or the younger generations. What are you DOING to them, TEACHING them, INSTILLING in them when you speak of their ignorance or inability? That’s on US. Its on US.
I am unbelievably grateful for Nanny, that mirror, and that none of the dresses I ever bought fit me right. Thank GOD they didn’t fit me right. Thank God.
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