Note to reader: My son was born female. I referred to him with female pronouns for the first 23 years of his life. For the last year, I have worked REALLY hard to erase those “qualifiers”. Therefore, I will always use male pronouns when referring to him- even when reporting on the past. And, as always, I will refrain from using our names to protect his anonymity.
My son was my firstborn. From the beginning he was intense….I mean the VERY beginning: confining me to the final 10 weeks of pregnancy to a bed rest designed to increase blood flow and growth to his undeveloped belly. After birth- his colic. He was single-minded and walked at 9 months ( what was God thinking?). At two, he refused to hold my hand…we compromised on his holding my clothing. He was scarily intuitive (announcing his sister’s birth in the middle of the night just before we called to announce it). He loved books -passionately. And cars. And a stuffed bear in a pink dress named Baby, that he referred to as, “he”. Then at four -HERE IT COMES!!!!- we had a knock-down, drag-out fight: NO MORE DRESSES!
I have always tried to be “open-minded”. I have always wanted to be reasonable. I am a special educator, so I am keenly aware of the importance of nurturing self-esteem and individuality in children. But I was also a mom that was mainstream. I went for what I believed to be downright logical: “There are only a few times in your life when I will MAKE YOU (really? I said that then?! Ugh!) wear a dress. There are just sometimes when that is socially appropriate and necessary.” Okay, NOW I am gagging at the recalled lecture…to a four year old, no less. But then? I thought I was being really perfect. We strive for perfection, right Moms? Our kids are going to be AMAZING – and WE are the great moms that will see exactly that happens!
So he wore a dress to his preschool graduation, and his grandparent’s 50th anniversary party, and his elementary and middle school graduations, and his Bat Mitzvah (kinda forced THAT whole thing on him, too, come to think of it!). The other days were filled with high tops, shorts or jeans paired with t-shirts sporting Batman or tie dye. And then there was the most amazing, blonde, curly, silky long hair…cranked back into a ponytail EVERY SINGLE DAY OF HIS YOUNG LIFE. He was joyful, yet quiet. He excelled in school, but tried to disappear. I look back and think to myself , “Girl, you saw this coming!”