People always seem to be full of “helpful” advice: “Your baby is cold/hungry/tired.” “Your child needs gloves.” “You should strap your kid in (his stroller). You are a terrible mother!” (True story)
But what a random passerby on the street said to me yesterday took the cake.
It was a sunny, brisk, almost-spring morning, and Arthur and I were enjoying ourselves and going for a walk. He was happily pushing his Olaf in the stroller.
A random guy stopped and said, “Is that a girl?”
I replied, “Why? Because he is dressed in all blue?”
I was so caught off-guard. It was a dumb response to an even dumber question. I responded with a stereotype to what I knew was leading to a ridiculous follow-up from the guy.
“You’re making him gay, you know.”
Here is what I should have said: “And? So what?”
Instead, feeling the fire rise inside of me, getting angry at the ridiculousness that was in front of me, I berated the man. For his narrow-mindedness. For everything that he said and didn’t understand. I felt an urge to defend my happy kid pushing his goddam stroller.
Another man stepped in and told me to stop arguing with the guy. That it didn’t make any sense. That I didn’t know him and what he was capable of. That I should protect my child.
So. Arthur and I kept walking. He was oblivious, of course. I still felt such rage inside. But I saw his happy cheeks and smile and just paused to kiss his face all over, and then we moved on.
But it made me think. It made me think of all the better things I could have said. It made me think of everything I want my boys to have and feel and be. Mainly: themselves.
With everything they have ever done, we have taken their lead. When we bought Julian his first train set, we didn’t know that it would take on a life of its own. His obsession with subways is entirely his own. But he also loves dressing up as Queen Elsa with Arthur as Princess Anna by his side, singing “Let it go” from the top of his lungs.
The boys love rocket ships, firetrucks, and dinosaurs. But they also like to color rainbows and draw and sing and dance. Some days Julian’s “bestest” color is green. Some days it’s pink.
I want the boys to be the best people they can be. I often say to Julian, in a difficult situation when he is acting out, “Are you being the best Julian that you can be?” And that is truly all I want. I want them to be the best people they can be.
Julian and Arthur will always be loved for who they are. I take great comfort in knowing that they will grow up with gay marriage being an option. That’s a fight neither of them or their friends will ever have to fight. I love the fact that they will have friends who have two dads or two moms. Or one of each. Or a grandma. Or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Seeing the blank canvas that their mind was when they came into this world, I know that any prejudice anyone has ever felt is taught.
Whoever taught that man on the street that pushing a stroller equals being gay (not even mentioning the fact that you can’t make anyone gay), must have known very little about real life. And I feel bad for that man.
What’s right in front of me is what matters the most: two happy, healthy boys. Two boys who have the liberty to be anything they want to be. Two boys who couldn’t be loved more and who will always be loved just the same no matter who they love or what their favorite color is or what job they choose. All I ask is that they are the best people they can be.
And that’s something I strive for every day. Being the best mother I can be, the best wife, the best friend, the best neighbor (sorry, downstairs neighbors!!), the best daughter, the best person. Some days I fail, but the intention is good. And that’s really all anyone can ask for.
Now go ahead, Arthur, and push that stroller.