I thought yesterday of my school mornings growing up. I hate to admit this now, my mom dressed me until I was in third grade. The image of Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden, where she lifts her arms to be dressed by the young house maid reminds me of our mornings. Clothes were more complicated even when I was a child. Underpants, undershirt, a slip, leotards,(we called them, today they are tights), a dress or skirt and blouse, with buttons and zippers, buckles on school shoes, unless you had loafers, composed the morning ritual. If a dress had a bow, Mom loved to tie it from the front as she put her arms around me. She said that was the only way she could tie a bow. I suspect hugging was the motive. Long hair to be taken out of curlers and brushed, or put in a pony tail, dog ears(straight pony tails on either side of the head) or pigtails or braids.Sometimes I talked her into a headband or just yarn tied around my head. Mom didn't French braid, but I did my girls sometimes and my nieces when I visited in California.
To my mother, our appearance, our clothing, was of utmost importance. She told my father when they started having children, "Our kids are going to be dressed nice." She lived to that vow. Always shopping the sales racks for quality clothes, eying the Pittsburgh Post for the latest fashions so we could be in style, particular about laundering, ironing and folding our clothes, she would go without anything for herself so we could walk out that door looking above presentable. Having grown up in the Great Depression, with only a few dresses, she had her ideas. My third grade teacher asked her if she was trying to make me a fashion plate, which my mother took as a compliment.
Clothes became much easier for my children. Pants had long been the standard for school. The kids got dirty doing all the many projects at school. Teachers encouraged basically play clothes. Church also became much less formal. Just come.
My husband remarked often about school clothes, set apart for that, Sunday best for church and then play clothes. I guess as mothers became busier with working outside the home, the clothing had to be easier. Kids had to be able to dress themselves at an earlier age as mothers too rushed around to leave the home for the day. Dads also became more involved in the morning routine and well, dads don't always do hair. Some do, I've heard.
Moms still drive the morning, I think, majority of the time. Even when they are not there, clothes are laid out and demands written down or repeated often. Much done the night before to encourage ease in the rushed morning. Just as Mary Lennox had to learn to dress herself, we have learned to have independent children.