The Little Plaid Skirt

I have been in the workforce long enough to see coworkers retire. Not the old geezers I thought were taking up space when I was much newer to the workforce, but experienced and contributing colleagues and friends.

A colleague retired last week. When I saw her in the hallway on her last day, I noticed her smiling ear to ear commenting on the sun's appearance (just like the rest of Minnesota) and then, I noticed her clothes.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

She was dressed TOM casual.

For a woman who usually dressed as though she stepped out of an Ann Taylor look book and tended to the serious side, this brief interaction was striking. I had flash thoughts of dress codes, work personalities and the impact of a simple smile.

Then, I thought of the nuns.

I attended Catholic school for a few years in the 1970s. My nuns didn't fly. They ran a tight ship with rules, rulers and uniforms.

I wore a uniform. Every day. Every day except for one. My family was moving during the school year so this second grader was permitted to wear regular (new!) clothes on her last day with the nuns.

I remember it clearly.

I wore a red and black plaid kilt-style wool skirt with a large safety style pin in the front to keep it from flying open. Was it fringed? Did I wear it with a black t-shirt or crisp white collared shirt embellished with more pins and long white socks?

I remember my friends gathering around to see my new clothes. I remember energy, confidence and kindness. I remember looking down at my new shoes, swishing my skirt, and loving the style.

I remember feeling pretty.

I remember melting like butter a few years ago when my young daughter choose a dress because "It makes me feel pretty, momma."

I am going to take these memories and spring clean the heck out of the clothes in my closet.

I grant you the permission to do the same.

The Little Plaid Skirt, by Lisa Rosendahl, first appeared on

Letter to My Daughter: Day in the Life Sunday

You are a teenager now. Wow, where did the time go? It seems like yesterday when dad and I were in the hospital gazing in wonder and joy at our new baby girl. Those feelings were definitely a first for us and our new family.


From then on, our days were filled with firsts. First words, first steps, first bingo dobber painting, first day of school. First friend, first hurt feeling, first tooth, first dance recital, first cartwheel and first ride without training wheels.

You were little, you were growing and you were brave. You inspired me. And now, you are not so little anymore. You've outgrown your car seat and you read on your own. You wear deodorant, are looking at prom dresses and shave your legs, for God's sake.

When you were an infant, I counted your age by days, weeks and months. Today, I am not counting by days, weeks or months or measuring your progress by firsts. It's more recent events I remember: you putting your nervousness aside and stepping up to the block at a swim meet; wrestling with the neighbor boys who absolutely adore you; walking confidently into the middle school each day, recognizing yet not being ruled by lunchroom and girl drama; your self-challenge to  be fearless; and the friendships you are developing.

I know there are times when I drive you crazy or push when all you want is space. You didn't come with a guidebook and hey, that's what mothers do. Through it all, never doubt my love for you. I am your biggest cheerleader.

Continue to trust yourself and your choices. Keep wondering, creating and always know that you are important. You are strong and capable.

I am so proud of you and love that you are my daughter.


There's more but the rest is between me and my girl. I've learned so much from her and from the day to day joy of being her mom. Do you have a daughter? What do you want to be sure she knows as she grows up?

By Lisa Rosendahl