The Dressy Debacle

By Terri Porta © 2012

It’s late, too late to be looking for a fancy dress for my husband’s company Christmas party, but I had put it off for long enough. Why do I do this every time? I think that if I miss one more meal a new size will slip down over my waist like a loose breezy joy. At that point I can break out in self-congratulatory dance moves kept only for this moment. I won’t deny it, I have been dreaming of going to the party in my yoga pants. The dressy black ones that don’t have dried blue paint on them from my foray into art a few months back. My husband thinks I look hot in yoga pants.

Finally, I settle into the reality that I need a dress and it will probably be a bigger size than last year’s.

My two-year-old son and I muck through the sale racks at the mall together. The clerk, with Brittany on her badge, must have recognized the panic-stricken glaze in my eyes. “Do you have any nice evening dresses?”

“You might try the Clothes Barn,” she offered.

“Okay, thanks.” I pluck at the bejeweled, embroidered jeans, size “tiny” on the rack in front of me, and sigh. I don’t need another pair of jeans; I need a dress. My son yanks on my arm, his other arm stretches out, and like a yo-yo he pulls bracelets, earrings and then a box of perfume from the shelf. Brittany glares. I flee.

At the next shop, I wait for a dressing room while two teenage girls try on bikinis. When I noticed four young men standing around gawking at them, I put my stuff back on the rack and walk out.

Why didn’t I bring a stroller? Christmas shoppers crowd around me. I carry my son till my arms fall asleep as I browse the next store. Finally, I sit him on the bench in the fitting room with a dress that might work and strip down to the bare minimums. I needed a dose of fashion. Their clearance rack was full of it. I sumo-wrestling move into the latex brief first. Now I just resemble the Michelin Man. With the dress over my arms and head, I pull. Grunt. Then pull again. Dread sets in as I wiggle. There is no light breezy joy here. It’s tight. Too tight! Suddenly, I hear a startled cry, and then the bang of the door to my dressing room straining open on its hinges.


I peek out from the material and a teenage boy stares at me. My son is half way to the register and heading for the food court. My phone rings with a hilarious high-pitched squeal that squawks out, “Hey you, it’s me answer the phone!” I’ve been meaning to change it for weeks. The crowded store falls silent except for Jingle Bells playing in the background. Every head swivels to me.

Ten minutes later, Chelsea hands me my son. Her pursed lips and squinting eyes study me.

“Honey, that is just not your color,” she says and swivels away.

At the next store, my son is minutes from meltdown. I’m past it. Do I really need a dress? The yoga pants are looking pretty good. I could wear a bejeweled top and hang out with the grannies at the party. Is it that important to be dolled up for my husband’s boss?

Just one more try at finding a dress in the next store, which looks like a cupcake frosting factory on steroids. White, glitter and ruffles hang from ceiling to floor. I grab something loose off the rack and march to the dressing rooms. My son is snot-covered and smelling of something that should be changed. His diaper looks like a grenade went off. I pull out his wet wipes--they’re dried out.

I’ve become one of those moms. You know the kind. The offensive, strung-out mother, whose kid runs through the stores with just a diaper on, while she’s screaming at the top of her lungs and begging God to give her one more chance tomorrow. Tears run down both our cheeks.

Later we sit in the car. I look at my son whose curls frame his angelic sleeping face. He is smiling and his fingers cling to his sippy cup. I don’t have a dress. I don’t want one. A verse comes to mind, "For this child I prayed" (1 Samuel 1:27a). All is well.

The moments of our lives, and theirs, are forever bound in our hearts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Where can you find Terri Porta? Her book “5 Basics for Growth, Part 1 of the High-Octane Christian Series,” is available on her website or anywhere digital books are sold. Catch up with her on her daily blog, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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