The Shirt

be kind

I tried to talk him out of it. Not because I didn’t want him to have it. Not because I wouldn’t be proud of him wearing it. Only because the world can be stereotypically biased and cruel sometimes.

My mama bear instinct just wanted to keep him safe. Shelter him from hurt and ridicule. That is what we do as mama bears. Protect and shield as much as we can and then send them off out into the world hoping they are strong enough. Wishing them as few bangs, nicks, and bruises as possible, hoping they can stay whole and happy.

My son wore the above shirt today. The shirt he carefully hand-picked at Old Navy because I told each child they could pick one since they were on sale. The shirt he jumped and hollered about so excited because not only did it have his favorite character of all time on it, but it was also his two favorite colors: pink and purple.

This shirt has been worn many times, but to be honest sometimes it sits in the wash pile a little too long. It may also be hung in the closet a bit too out of reach for my son’s small arms. All to protect. All out of concern. All out of my need to shield him just a little longer. I have written about this shirt before and the comments we receive when we are out in public.

Now that he has started school, I knew he would want to wear THE SHIRT. Last night I hung it carefully in his closet within his reach knowing full well it would be the first choice for him in the morning.

In the morning as I bustled about the kitchen, I heard his joyful feet bounding down the stairs. He leapt into the kitchen proudly boasting his Sofia shirt and that he had dressed himself. I steeled my heart for him and what the day ahead might hold; all because of a shirt.

I spent my morning in silent prayer. As I busied myself with the tasks at hand, a constant repeated prayer kept running through the back of my brain:

Please God let the world be kind to my sweet boy today. His soul is pure and full of light. Please let the world be kind to my four-year old who understands more about forgiveness than his thirty-six-year-old mom. Please, oh please, oh please.

Dropping him off at school he skipped his way to the entrance, so jubilantly thrilled to show off his most prized possession, hoping his friends would love it as much as he does.

As he proudly displayed his shirt to one of his teachers upon entry, she looked at him, his twin then me and said,”Well at least we will be able to tell them apart today” just a tad bit too full of judgement. I saw his shoulders sink a little as he heard it, too.

My heart broke a little more for him today. He arrived home and excitedly rattled through a string of wonderful things about his day, there was nothing and I thought for a moment we were safe just awhile longer. About fifteen minutes later, he found me sitting alone and said,

“Mommy when I was sitting next to Eliza* today she said, ‘why are you wearing a Sofia shirt?'”

He went on to explain that he had told her how excited he had been when he bought it and how he got to pick out as a special treat. He said he thinks she thought it was supposed to be just a girl thing and that he didn’t like the way she asked him why he was wearing it.  I reassured him that his Sofia shirt was a great shirt and that he needed to always wear just what he wanted. He said that he would, but it was the disappointment in his little voice that broke my heart.

My hope is that he continues to wear what he wants and do what he wants no matter what his peers think or say, but I know that today changed him a tiny bit. He was disappointed that the world didn’t love that shirt on him as much as he loved that shirt on him. These events are bound to happen in varying shades throughout his life; that is part of life; but the mama bear; my mama heart, wishes I could shield him a little more; take the brunt of it myself. That is what all of us mamas wish for. We hope that the world is kind to our babies and that they can be their shining selves without facing ridicule. Unfortunate that, that isn’t always the case.

I want to take a moment though and thank those of you who saw my Facebook post and prayed and well-wished with me today.Thank you all of you kindness warrior mamas who help make this world a better place and with me become the village of support for my kids. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Watching my littles grow and learn,





*Names were changed to protect the identity of children.





6 thoughts on “The Shirt

  1. That little munchkin doesn’t know it yet but he is going to be a fiercely strong and independent boy because he has a mama to show him how it’s done! I admire the way you’re raising those 4 beautiful little (some of them big now!) humans – so grateful to know them – but especially you because you spread your kind, gentle, and loving self on everyone you encounter.

    Love to you all – thinking of you all the time!
    Auntie B

  2. Dear Michelle,
    I understand what it means to ache for your children as they grow up, as they share their true selves with a world that sometimes is only interested in the cookie cutter look, as they struggle because the world can have very poor vision when looking right into the face of love and kindness. He is PERFECT as God created him.
    My prayer is that the people of the world begin to understand that real beauty is found in people who, even at four years old, live out their lives authentically.
    It’s about time that the world’s people, both young and old, seek to empower others to live as their true selves…pink Sofia shirts and all.
    I am standing with you and with your sweet, authentic, real, and bold son who only wants to share that which he loves the most with the world around him.
    Love, Carol

    1. Thank you, Carol. We are so thankful for your support. I so hope he continues to live authentically and that our support makes that all the easier for him.

  3. You are such a great mom. Yes, everyone should be able to wear what they want, when and where they want. They should be loud and proud. Of course, nothing to hurt or offend others. And even at 4, they have to learn about the world of free speech, different thinkers, varied thought processes, supporters, detractors, kindness and yes, hate. The open, straight forward, honest approach you take with your children is refreshing, on point, and going to pay huge dividends. The best news is … you have strong, bright, good hearted, leader young people. They will do what they want. Say what they want. Be who they are. Because they have your support and guidance. The “pain” you feel is in the parents job description. We wish that everyone could exhibit kindness, tolerance, and caring. Unfortunately there are people that do not. We can only control what we control. You are doing the best job possible with what you can control. The lesson today, as I see it, is …. that your children should do and wear what they want (while not hurting others) and understand how the world may react but not be detoured. The power is in the understanding. I speak of this as I have real first hand knowledge. I wore a uniform to relegious school in a State where we were clearly a minority religion. We were teased, tormented, and ostracized by some. We were taught about the why. Through that, I developed many real friends who did not care what I wore, but cared who i was. I have taken this through my entire life. It has helped me to be a better person and a better leader. As you know, I where what I want, when I want to whatever the occasion. Because it is fun. because I like it. Some still make fun and don’t care to understand why. Others accept and are there for me because of who I am …. no other reason. I want to identify those people and surround myself with them. Hard as it is to go through the learning, the life lesson will be enduring. Continue the path you are on … it is right and good! Love you momma bear!

    1. Glad I didn’t fall far from the tree. I appreciate all you have said and everything you taught me. Good to know the life lessons can make you stronger.

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