Mommy & Me Should Be More Than Manicures

My daughter and I have taken a couple Mommy & Me classes. We did the infant music class, where children who can’t stand by themselves gaze in confusion at a circle of adults chanting and clapping. We’ve taken swim classes, and I’m proud to tell you that my little toddler can blow some mean bubbles. And we try to visit Mommy & Me story-time at our local children’s book store whenever possible. One activity you won’t find us sharing? Manicures.

I realize that I’m in the minority here. Over half of Mommyish readers take their daughters to the nail salon, at least on special occasions. And I don’t begrudge women who choose to take their little ones in for a polish every now and again, or even those who simply wish they could. I understand that many moms think of mani-pedi days as a relatively inexpensive treat. For a special event or maybe to celebrate a birthday or a great report card, I can see the appeal and I don’t judge any mom for indulging with their little girls.

However, I can’t really understand why manicures are necessary for Mommy & Me time. When I want to bond with my daughter, I try to find something that she’s interested in and get involved. Except for that whole music class thing. That was pure first-time-parent-enthusiasm. Since then, I’ve tried to build Mommy & Me time around my daughter’s favorite activities. I sign us up for volunteer work planting flowers at the park we play at. Its not because I enjoy gardening (I’m pretty sure I have a black thumb), but because my daughter loves all those flowers and talks about them all the time. Or we go horseback riding, due to my little girl’s love of an amazing pony named Munchie.

Manicures are a purely adult indulgence and having my daughter tag along once a month and calling it “bonding” seems a little unfair to me. It seems like I’m telling my little girl that she has to make herself a part of the adult world for us to spend time together, instead of focusing on age-appropriate activities.

As my little one gets older, her interests may change. At some point in time, she may ask to get her nails done at a salon. I can’t honestly tell you when I’ll be ready to take her there, because I’m just not sure. Our deputy editor, Koa Beck, made an excellent point when she reminded us that a manicure isn’t just a little nail polish anymore. In this society, we’re constantly telling young girls that they can be anything they want to be, as long as they’re pretty too. I don’t want to increase that pressure on my daughter. I want her to know that she doesn’t need to spend money to be beautiful.

It may be hypocritical for me to hold my daughter back from a little pampering. After all, as an adult, I’ve taken trips to the salon. I’ve even gone with my mother and sister, sitting in big massage chairs and catching up. You could say that I’ve had Mommy & Me time at the nail bar, just not with my daughter. But in all fairness, I know that my mother never took me for a pedicure until I was in college. In fact, I had never had anything done at a salon but a haircut until I moved out of the house.

I love spending time with my little one. I’ll try to get involved in any activity she comes up with. And I want her to feel confident and comfortable in her appearance. I believe that mothers have to foster that positive self-image from an early age, because it’s always a struggle for young girls. But to me, Mommy & Me manicures sends the wrong message to these impressionable little ones. It makes the focus of bonding time on the parent, instead of letting the child explore their own interests. I’m all for mother-daughter bonding, but I don’t think we need a trip to the salon to do it.

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