The girl in the polka dot dress

Last night, my girl wearing a now tattered and torn polka dot dress, twirled in it for the last time.


A hand me down dance costume among many, for some reason this one became the most loved. Beginning at the age of three, it was worn hundreds of times and for many an occasion. Sometimes she could get her more tomboyish sister to join in the dress-up fun, but the polka dot dress was the one she almost always chose.

Maybe it was the twirlability of this garment that drew her again and again to put it on. Or maybe it was something else - the feel of the material, the sparkly red trim, or the polka dots. Which of us can fathom the magic that is present when a childhood object becomes our very own velveteen rabbit?

Her petite frame squeezed one last time into this polka dotted space. Today, I fold up this dress and place it back in her memory box. Maybe someday another little girl will embrace this now frayed and worn childhood costume.

As my girl declared that this was her very last trick-or-treating Halloween, I once again felt the co-mingling of joy and sorrow along this journey called motherhood. Her choice of costume is deeply symbolic. One last dance with a swiftly passing childhood.

As I reflect on last night and the history of the polka dot dress, emotion wells up and tears moisten my eyes. The focus of these days is “where will she go to high school?” How did we get here so soon? You would think that as a mom with twenty-nine years in the trenches, I would not get surprised. I know where this pathway leads. Yet the speed at which a childhood goes by has once again ambushed my mother’s heart.

As I take another step toward letting her go out into the world, I hope that she always remembers how to twirl. I hope that the sheer abandon and joy that she expresses when she hits the dance floor is always accessible to her. I hope that she knows how very deep and wide and piercing and profound is the love that her mom feels for her. I dream of days ahead when there are still moments and days in which we twirl in and out of each other’s lives.