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You Do You

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

By Alicia Brown

In 2004, pregnant with my first child, I contemplated the kind of parent I wanted to be. What came so clearly to my mind was to 100% support whatever and whoever my children wanted to become. This was first tested when my baby girl wanted to play with blocks rather than dolls. We fought over her hair. I wanted to curl and braid it while she preferred to leave it straight or in a simple ponytail. I expected her to be just as girlie as I am… and she just wasn’t. I was reminded of the promise I made to myself and began purchasing the toys she wanted, rather than what I thought she should want. Danica is now playing on the varsity soccer team as a freshman goalkeeper.

Having my son, Gabe in 2010, made me the Mama Dragon I am. When my baby boy was two years old, he began hiding princess dresses in his backpack from my mom’s house and loved nothing more than wearing my high heels. At three, he would gaze at me applying my makeup, and started dance class.

Coming from a conservative family, there was a lot of backlash when some family members would see him playing dress-up as the “mom” or “sister” rather than playing with his male cousins. They sat me  down and, with sad eyes and concern, told me that I was “trying to make him gay”. Assumptions were thrown around about why Gabe preferred shopping in the girls department rather than the boys department.

With both of my children living their own truth, our family motto quickly became “You be you”. I would calmly explain to my concerned family members that my job as a parent is to love and support my children. I would encourage them to think of how incredible of a world we would have if ALL parents loved and supported theirchildren. This usually resulted in their own self-reflection.

Now that Gabe is ten years old, and family around us understand it is not a “passing phase”, he is more accepted. He dances with Ballet West where he has found his tribe of accepting adults and other boys like him. It has been really neat to witness a change of heart in my family.

Both of my children are very lucky to have fierce allies. I will be honest, I worry for my little man. I worry about him attending a new school this year and how he will be treated. We regularly discuss how to respond to negative comments, with positivity and a dismissive attitude. All I can do is encourage my babes to live their truth. We love sharing our motto of “You be you” with their friends who know our home is a safe space for them. I send my love to you, my fellow Mama Dragons. Keep fighting and keep loving.

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