Family life

The First Communion mom fail (that wasn't)

Tracy Chappell worries she messed up her daughter’s first communion.

Tracy Anna in her first communion dress. Photo: Tracy Chappell

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005.

I had no idea what I was getting into, let me just say that off the top.

As a non-Catholic, how was I to know? I should have just Googled “First Communion” or asked better questions to the moms in the schoolyard. My husband had gone to all the prep classes with Anna at the church, and I guess I should have known that he would get the facts, but not the scoop.

I thought I knew what needed to be done, and did it. When I got an e-newsletter with a sale price and free shipping for a beautiful white dress and sweet little cape, I bought it. Anna adored it and pranced around in it like a princess. Price? Under $50, all in. The date was circled on our calendar. I planned to get a cake. I didn’t really think beyond that.

Then, the week leading up to the big day, I was part of several conversations that freaked me out. Little-girl hair appointments. Three hundred dollar dresses. Gloves. Bonbonnieres. Catering. Banquet halls. Photo shoots. What the what?


I started to panic that I was completely messing up this very special moment in my daughter’s life. I quickly invited some people over, created a food plan, bought Anna nicer shoes. I was scrambling for ideas for a gift (Anna was just baptized last year, so the necklace and personal Bible were recently covered), and a friend suggested a ring. I ran out and found something that I knew she would love and would feel special to her.

But was it enough? I didn’t know, and it was too late to do anything about that. On the day of her first communion, Anna was so excited to get into her dress. I did her hair. Our neighbour came over and brought her a beautiful necklace with an angel pendent that she put on immediately. She loved her ring. She was in great spirits. We were ready to go.

That feeling hit me again when we got inside the church and took Anna to the group of kids doing their first communion with her. Even after what I’d heard, I honestly wasn’t prepared for the elaborate dresses and accessories. Many of them looked like little brides and I did a quick check to see if Anna was noticing or upset that they were so much fancier than she was. But she was completely oblivious. Because Anna loved her dress, and felt fancy and special, and had been looking forward to this day for months, and truly had zero expectations of pomp and circumstance. Why was I so worried?

And in case I needed more proof that my daughter was completely unconcerned with the comparison game, she returned from receiving her communion and leaned over to me and whispered, “I’m just so happy!” What a kid.


Really, why do I worry about such ridiculous things? I love this girl to pieces, and if anything hit me particularly hard on this day it was that she’s growing up so well, becoming more mature and thoughtful and wise and interesting day by day. At eight, she’s got a lot figured out. I’d be smart to just get out of her way.

This article was originally published on May 09, 2014

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