A few months back you were sprawled across your bed, rather than getting dressed for school. I tapped on your door to see what was taking so long. Our morning schedule is stretched tight, let alone when you languish, moving to a pace I only wish we were able to enjoy once-in-awhile. You looked at me and said, “Mama, should I wear the clothes that I want to wear or wear the clothes other people want me to wear?”
My heart skipped a beat. I told your wear what you want to wear and screw everyone else.
But I know you get tired of being told you’re in the wrong bathroom. You’re tired of being taunted as “Not a girl” at school. My heart constricts when I think of what you face each day when you walk in and stand in the truth of being you.
I also know when I was the one who didn’t understand. In a matter of months, you went from pink sparkle tutus to wanting to wear only boy clothes. We call them, Marlie clothes, now.
But back then, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to know what it meant.
While shopping for a few summer outfits, we walked into Hanna Andersson and you bee-lined it toward the boys section. You picked out bright green jean shorts and a navy T-shirt filled with rockets blasting into space. I said, “Those are nice.” But I still showed you skirts and tanks from the girls’ side. I didn’t understand this sudden change.
We left without buying anything. I was confused and upset. You were bummed. Later that week, while you were at your dad’s house, I realized my blunder. I didn’t need to define you or place you in any kind of box. What I needed to allow was you flowing into being who you are when you let yourself be.
And I knew from my own experience the pain in not being accepted for who I was. I morphed to fit in. But you betray yourself when you do this.
That truth seared into my heart as I vowed to see you and ensure you felt loved and accepted no matter your expression of being.
When you came back from your dad’s house, I had purchased the outfit and left it on your bed. It was folded neatly, waiting for your return. When you saw it on your bed, you hugged me tight and thanked me. You wore that outfit all summer. I relaxed into not knowing what it meant other than you like those clothes; you’re finding you. And you’ll keeping finding yourself again and again as you outgrow previous versions. My job as a parent is to be here, loving you and guiding you. But letting you define you.
Later that summer we went school clothes shopping. You picked out checkered Vans skateboarding shoes and a few outfits at Hanna Andersson. All from the boys’ section. We then wandered into Ann Taylor – a store I would’ve never entered before as I assumed things wouldn’t fit right. But after months of running a few times a week, I had dropped a few pounds.
In the dressing room, I tried on a tan blazer, blank ankle pants, a fitted white blouse and leopard print kitten heels. I remember looking in the mirror realizing that I, too, had outgrown a previous version of myself. I smiled into the dressing room mirror and it ended up reflected in my eyes. I was lit from the inside out.
You wanted to join in the fun so you unwrapped the tissue from your clothes and tried on brown corduroy pants, a long sleeve t-shirt with an image of a dog wearing a red cape and slipped into the Vans. You jumped and landed on the linoleum floor as if you were skateboarding. You smiled wide and gave me a thumbs up. I will never forget this as your face was pure joy and your eyes lit up. I felt it. I felt you.
When it comes to doing something you feel is right for you, versus what others tell you…
Choose you. Be you. Give yourself the space and freedom to figure out who you are and how you want to express your being. Follow the path that lights you up from the inside out. That knowing and feeling is your guide.
I see you, little one, and love you no matter what <3