The Obamas On Easter Sunday: Sasha and Malia Remind Me How Far I’ve Fallen As A Mother

Looking at pictures of President Obama walking with his beautiful family to Easter service at St. John’s Church got me all nostalgic about the big to-do my mother used to make when it came to the pomp and circumstance of dress up on Resurrection Sunday. Sasha and Malia look absolutely delicious in their dresses and flats—understated, classic, age-appropriate and beautiful—and make the perfect complement to First Lady Michele, whose flawless fashion sensibilities always hit the mark. Mr. Obama is looking quite spiffy, too—particularly surrounded by his leading ladies.

This is decidedly not what our family looked like when we marched to church yesterday. Oh, don’t get it twisted: I used to dress up my girls in fancy dresses and sparkling new patent leather shoes and sweet sweaters and new purses full of mints and shiny quarters for the collection plate come Easter Sunday, too—relished in the tradition. But we’d skipped church for a few years after spending a month of Sundays on a mission to find a church home. And now, these days we go to a church that’s much more laid back—jeans and sneakers are just as welcome as skirts, heels and flowered dresses and ribbons. Nobody cares how you’re dressed; they just care that you come with an open heart ready to receive The Word. And quite frankly, we love that.

Still, yesterday, I felt the pull to get my girls into outfits a little more special than a cute top, nice jeans and sandals. When I suggested dresses and skirts, though, both my children showed all the way out and literally cried. Cried. Like I was telling them they had to walk on hot coals before they ate their cereal and made their way to our church’s Easter service.

To be fair, I didn’t buy them new Easter outfits; funds are tight and I just didn’t think it necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes my girls would wear once and likely outgrow before I convinced them to wear them a second time. Alas, despite dressing them in the most fantabulous outfits ever when they were younger, getting my girls into dresses and nice shoes is no easy feat now that they’re sporty and our church doesn’t require runway- and red carpet-worthy outfits to worship. Clearly, I’ve failed as a mother. My own mom is somewhere in Heaven, clutching her pearls and church hat and falling out while the Heavenly deaconesses fan her back to consciousness.

I did manage to get the 12-year-old in a cute top and skirt; I had to settle for a pair of linen shorts and a cute top for the 9-year-old. Of course, there were plenty of little kids at service yesterday showing my kids how to look Easter sharp. And trust, I’ll be showing them this picture of Sasha, Malia, Michelle and President Obama in their Easter best so that they know I wasn’t making it up when I said most people dress nice on Resurrection Sunday.  I have a year to prepare them for dresses and shoes for Easter 2013. Pray for me.


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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.


  1. Our church is the same. But, our girls 7 and 4 love dresses. They are not like me at all. So it was them telling me to put on a dress on Resurrection Sunday. I am hoping your girls will be a little more eager next year to get semi-fancy. Have a great Monday!

  2. Generally I feel like church should be “come as you are” but there is just something about the Easter tradition of dressing up that makes me smile!!

  3. I understand where you’re coming from. I bought my daughter a new dress but skipped on myself, I had dresses that were occasion appropriate and are only even thought of come easter or mother’s day. I think what makes traditions special are the ones you create as a family. I know that’s what I work to do.

    You’ll get em’ next year!

  4. You did not fail. They like their style and dislike dresses. Unlike my daughter, if she could wear dressed everyday she would. She wears a uniform to school and even when it cold, she do not like to wear pants even when her school allows them too. I have a little “Super Star’ that I live to work with daily. It has been time, when I am late to work and she is late to school about the outfit selection (before Catholic school).

    Trust and believe me, you didn’t fail.

  5. Get ’em Denene! Bust out the Dax, an old towel and a hot comb as well, if you REALLY want to kick it old school for Easter next year. 🙂

  6. It’s a new day. Hopefully, Mom will understand. Great post!

  7. I understand how you feel. I have three girls and style is an issue all of the time. But I disagree that you failed-if they know the message of the day, then you have succeeded!

  8. Um… my kids wore sweats all day and we didn’t even GET to church. Where do I rate on the scale?
    HA! You did fine, mama

  9. I’m not much on the “Dressing Up for Easter Sunday” but then again Easter Sunday is about the newness of LIFE not clothes. I’m sure your daughters, like my kids, felt a heckuva lot more comfortable in their wears than those “oh so sharp” children did in theirs.

  10. Thank you for voicing the guilt in my head! At least y’all made it to church. It dawned on me at about 4:00 watching yet another OWN network marathon that I hadn’t even thought to make her a little basket like I usually do. She didn’t mention it, so neither did I, but dang! Memories, that’s one of the most important things we give our children. I’m a do better next year too!

  11. I love this post! I love the picture. There is no way you have fallen a mama centimeter in my mind- BTW. Coincidentally, I almost finished a post today about how my seven year old brown and beautiful boy INSISTED that I buy him a three piece suit for Easter Sunday/ church- and how much I wanted to impress his first mama with a photograph of that stunning young man. I love that all of the impetus for the spiff came from within. (I felt like despite me, he’s going to come into his own, undeniable style.) I was thrilled when #1 son made the choice for himself. How long will he hold onto that?!

  12. You made it to church – success! 😀

  13. Yeah I feel you, I got heat from my mom who wanted me to go buy my 14 mth old son a suit, so he can get chocolate all over it that she insisted he have cause he looked so cute Besides, Im like well if we where to deal with the chaos on Resurrection Sunday he will be alright with what he normaly wears to church. Plus, where is the section where you receive your lesson from the TV Pastor because you go all year. But you leave it up to the ones who don’t go at all to go on Resurrection Sunday, is that an excuse. My kids and I where in sweats all day as well, giving those ones a chance to get it in on Sunday, but we will be back in the pews come next Sunday no doubt..please don’t judge me 🙂

  14. P.S Denene, your message was clear…the message is to go get the message…you made it to church, you did good Momma “D”

  15. Congratulations on making it to church. I believe God is more pleased about that than anything:)…but although I was a tomboy growing up (as far as my clothes) I did, for some reason, relish getting my hair pressed and getting a new outfit for Easter. I was the only girl dressed in Earth tones to my mother’s chagrin, but I did look Easter appropriate:)

  16. Yesterday was our 1st time going to church without my twins who are now in college. I just about cried looking at all the cute little kids with their sweet Easter outfits. My hubs almost wore jeans himself in protest and missing the kids but he gave in and wore a suit and I pulled out an old dress and my pearls. Thanks for this post. You are a great mom!

  17. Great post. Our pastor emphasizes your being there versus what you’re wearing (though you see the sidelong glances from those dressed to the 9s). If we were all expected to be all dolled up the pews would be far emptier. Good job Mom: it’s being there to celebrate the Resurrection that’s important. I agree though, those Obamas sure look great!

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