How My Daughter Became a Princess

June is a fun month in the Thornton home because Ellie and Emma celebrate their birthdays 1 week apart from each other. This morning, I’m sitting at my kitchen table staring down several large and small gifts wrapped in pink princess wrapping paper. Last week I made Emma a pink cake with pink icing and pink candles. At nap time today I’ll try my hand at making a Cinderella cake. Tonight, I’ll set the table with Disney Princesses paper plates, and we’ll all sing a robust “Happy Birthday” to our beautiful Ellie, who is 4 today. So in honor of her, her 2-year-old sister and their princess hearts that love glitz and sparkle and puffy dresses, I’m reposting this writing from my now defunct mommy blog. Happy Birthday to my sweet girls who have taught me so much about the way the Father loves his daughters.

ellie ready for her ballet portrait yesterday




emma enjoying her birthday treats













Almost everything Ellie opened for Christmas this year had something to do with princesses. A princess suitcase with travel pillow and blanket, princess big girl pants, princess slippers, princess tea set, princess camera, a cd with princess songs on it, two princess dresses, and a princess castle.

My girl Ellie loves princesses so much that I and everyone else in my family want to give her absolutely everything we could that had princesses on them. I love seeing her so delighted and happy.

I was not always so excited about princess stuff, though. In fact, I’m pretty surprised at myself as a mom, and so are a lot of my friends and family who knew me before I became a mommy to girls.

You see, back in my grad school days when I was writing papers about feminist literature and the like, I swore that if I ever had a little girl she would never ever have princess stuff. I didn’t want her to be spoiled and overly-focused on her appearance and material things–which is something I associated with the whole princess thing.

But then Ellie was born. For her first birthday, we went to Texas to celebrate with my family, and I decided to do the easy thing and buy some birthday plates and cups and stuff. But the only thing I could find was princess-themed.

No. NO. I refused it. I kept looking.

Finally it was the day of the party, and I still couldn’t find anything for a little girl that was appropriate for the 1st birthday and not princess-themed. I called my mom and complained. I cried and told her how much I didn’t want Ellie to have the princess stuff because I didn’t want her to end up spoiled some day and thinking she was a princess.

And then, from the other end of the line, my mom, as she so gently and wonderfully does, brought the hammer:

“Well,” she said, “you don’t want her to think she’s not a princess, do you?”

At that moment my mom in her wisdom saved me and Ellie from something equally as harmful for Ellie’s heart as being spoiled: believing that she’s not a princess, not worthy of crowns and princes and beautiful dresses. I knew in my heart she was right, and I took the plunge.

Now, almost 2 years later, I see Ellie’s heart come alive when she dons a princess dress. She dances around the house, banging on drums, and singing into her microphone. But you know what? You would be hard-pressed to see her doing that without one of her princess dresses on.

I want her to know how beautiful she is. I want her to feel alive in her feminine heart. I believe it taps into something so deeply rooted in her. . .a princess heart that responds to the call of a heavenly king. Maybe for Emma it will be a different thing that reaches that spot. But I know what it is for Ellie, and if that can happen in her 2-year-old heart through dancing around the house with her dad while wearing a princess dress, then it is a delight to me to see it.

For her, there’s no vanity in it at all. Instead there’s a connection to something deep in her heart that has to do with her daughterhood, her heavenly king, her loveliness, and her inheritance in the kingdom of God.

–february 2010

June 8, 2011