My daughter’s favorite coat is long and minky-soft, zebra print with a ruffle around the bottom. The inside is lined in hot pink. Last week she wore it with big white furry boots and a red boys’ snow hat that looked like a race car. She carried a fluffy white stuffed cat in her arms. It was quite the outfit, completely over the top. She wore it, happy and beautiful.
The zebra coat is a loaner, actually. It came our way by means of a complicated pipeline of hand-me-ups and hand-me-downs that my mom friends have designed to maximize the cute-clothes wearing in our group. It doesn’t matter to my daughter that someone else’s initials are on the tag. It’s hers because she wears it, because someone draped it across her shoulders.
She just turned four, my little girl in zebra stripes. We joke that her birthday is becoming a season in itself. Our family lives out of town, so we started celebrating a couple weeks early when relatives surprised her with a couple gifts. We had cupcakes at her grandpa’s house and more cupcakes the next day with two of her grandmas. When we returned home, traveling friends stayed overnight and brought a gift for her. Her godmother had her over for a special dinner with cloth napkins and jewels scattered across the table. On her birthday, more friends stopped by. Relatives posted a video of them singing birthday wishes. Others left messages for her.
One thing is true: my daughter is loved lavishly.
I don’t believe in “too much love,” and I am so thankful for people who remind my daughter that she is cherished and dear. I know, though, that many kids are also phenomenal, and yet not all have a parade of people waiting to pour love and cuddly toys upon them. I know it’s unfair. I don’t want her to become spoiled or entitled. Sometimes, it leaves me a little conflicted.
My daughter has no such conflicts. She is loved. It is hers because she wears it, the love of so many people draped across her shoulders. It bears the marks of the people who have passed it down. It is broken-in love, lavish and soft. It is bright and loud, sometimes a bit over the top. When she wears it, she is beautiful, bold enough to stand against the piercing winds.