Today, was one of the longer days I’ve had as a mother. Morgan chose to push gender boundaries even farther and stretch his parents faith in humanity. His school outfit consisted of a purple butterfly shirt (adorned with sparkles), a pink/plaid skort, purple leopard knee high socks and his black, faux fur lined boots. The closer we got to school the quieter he became, unable to describe his feelings.
As we started to walk into school, our beloved friends, the Kerr’s, proudly walked side by side – me holding one of Morgan’s hands and their daughter holding his other. Tears welled up, my heart raced – the fear of having no control or ability to protect him was excruciating. The unknown loomed over me. I don’t know which one of us it was harder for. I keep thinking, “Did I have friends as brave as his?” Morgan has built friendships with more depth than any I ever had, well into my adulthood. These children are warriors in my eyes, willing to face judgment, rejection and criticism for being his friend.
In all honesty, I didn’t want him to do it. To accessorize with jewelry, feminine socks, makeup or nail polish is one thing (to many adorable) but to go full out and dress like all the other girls? Fear screamed and told me not to trust; school is not a safe place, kids are cruel, he’ll get beat up, teachers will ridicule him, I’ll pick him up and he’ll be a puddle of tears and I LET this happen. Fear is powerful, controlling and paralyzing.
As I drove away, I couldn’t catch my breath and the tears were unstoppable. Dmitri and I have worked tirelessly to protect and nurture Morgan. I just “allowed” my son to go to school wearing a (expletive) skirt. I came to realize that I created this opportunity to actively live what I say I believe. On countless occasions I’ve said, almost flippantly, “we don’t know where this journey will take him,” “one day he MAY tell us he’s transgender,” and “Dmitri and I will support him regardless”. Every cell in my body revolted today; I wasn’t ready.
I had the opportunity to look at my reactions and evaluate them with raw honesty. Was I truly afraid for Morgan? Or was I projecting my own childhood experiences onto him, reliving the fears and hurt of not being accepted or liked? Was I protecting Morgan or myself? Am I as brave as my words?
Amazingly, only one child confronted him in the bathroom. Morgan told me, “I thought he was being mean but he was just concerned and wanted to know why I was wearing girl clothes. But I solved the problem, Mama.” As he came out of the bathroom, three of his female classmates were waiting for him, making sure he was alright. We’re talking first and second graders.
I’ve long acknowledged that I am not nearly as brave as my son. My entire life has been shaped by the fear of what other people think. Assuming my choices are being judged not by the ones I love but by complete strangers. I have bought into the belief that what other people think is far more important than what I think of myself. Now my child is actively rejecting that belief system entirely. So, I asked myself who was I truly afraid for, Morgan or me?
Today I witnessed the community I created, built, and fostered in action. My experience of today is powerful. Our possibilities are endless.
This was original posted on mypurpleumbrella on May 31, 2012.