Baby, We Were Born This Way

05/13/2015 05:28 pm ET | Updated May 13, 2016
Eileen O'Connor

This is a pretty controversial subject and I am not really a controversial person. Just ask my husband. If you see things my way, I will have no problem with your opinions.

Since becoming a mother, I have learned that all I really care about is that my kids are happy. And healthy. I can only do so much in the healthy department. But, at this stage of this game called life, I pretty much control their happiness. And when I say I, I mean we.

When it comes to what my kids want to wear in the morning, I have learned that I really don't give a rats ass what they wear. And I don't give an even bigger rats ass what people think about what my kids wear.

This is the way my parents raised me. I wanted so desperately to be a man when I was a little girl. And my parents let me live my dream. Until I hit puberty, I thought I was a boy. It was a very rude awakening when I found out I wasn't, but I got over it and made the transformation into a woman rather seamlessly.

I was the ultimate tomboy. I liked sports. I liked to dress as a boy. I liked to remove my shirt and play on the skins team. And for some God-forsaken reason, my parents allowed me to cut my hair like a boy. I can vividly remember getting my haircut and asking to have it look just like Nicholas Bradford from Eight is Enough. Looking at pics of him, I think he was the one trying to be a girl.

I never thought about any of this until I had a daughter of my own who also wanted to be a man. A mini-he, if you will. My parents never talked to me about my love of all things manly. If anything, they encouraged me to be who I wanted to be. They were very Catholic and pretty conservative, but they loved me for who I was. It was just never a big deal.

When my daughter turned 3, we packed away all of her sister's girl clothes and pulled out all of her brother's boy clothes. We weren't going to force her to wear the princess-themed wardrobe of her extremely feminine older sister. She was much more comfy in her older brother's dark-colored, sports and cars-themed, garb. Have at it, kid.

Everywhere we went, people would comment. On how adorable she was. People love her and her badass attitude. They love her boyish look. There is never a question she is a girl, because she has the most gorgeous, lush head of blond curls ever known to man. Pun intended.

This is why we were completely shocked at the reaction we got when our youngest son wanted to wear a dress. There is quite the double standard. And you know I don't like my standards doubled.

Beau and I will be the first to admit that it was much easier to let our little girl be a tomboy. When it came to our son being a "tomgirl," it was a tough pill to swallow. So we had to really think about why it bothered us. As it turns out, it doesn't bother us, but it really bothers other people. The reaction we get in public is absolutely cray.

I called my husband at work one day and told him that I was afraid we would ruin our son's self-esteem if we didn't let him be himself. I was really upset because I was so afraid our little guy would learn to feel bad about himself and not love himself like he should. My husband's reaction sums up the reason I married him. He said, "Well, then order him some girl clothes." Yes, sir.

I thought I was going to have to convince him of something. But I didn't have to. I think I was really trying to convince myself. And that changed my attitude completely. Why was I making such a big deal about it? So what, who cares? Turns out plenty of people care. Plenty of people that we don't care about. Damn.

I wish I could say it's always that easy. But it's not. Sometimes things are really complicated. Some mornings, I lay out a pretty dress for our son to wear, but then it turns out he wants to dress like his sister that day. The sister that prefers to dress like her brother. It's hard to keep track, especially if I have had some bailey's in my coffee.

Sometimes our younger daughter prefers to dress like her older sister who likes to dress like a girl. One day both boys were wearing boy clothes and both girls were wearing girl clothes. It was a mess. Pure chaos. I was embarrassed to leave the house like that. What would the neighbors think?

When we go to McDonald's and get happy meals, I order two boy meals and two girl meals. See what I did there? The McDonald's crew are none-the-wiser. It's like I'm playing a trick on them. The truck toy is for the little girl and the pony is for the little boy. I'm sneaky like that.

We have learned to put things in perspective. Life is so freaking short. My husband and I both lost parents too young and we have a child with special needs. When our baby was being tested for all sorts of chromosomal abnormalities, all we prayed for was our baby to live. Our prayers were answered and nothing much else matters anymore.

There are children with terminal illnesses and parents who have lost a child. We are not wasting one precious moment with our kids on nonsense. When it comes to what clothes our kids are wearing, we don't care. As long as they're name brand and I paid full price for them. In the grand scheme of things, that's all that really matters.

If our kids turn out to be gay, lesbian or transgender, we don't care. We love them. And right now, they are little kids. So we're just going to let them be little kids. And just like we have taught our kids plenty of fun new words, we have also learned a few. Gender queer, gender neutral, transgender, gender nonconforming and gender fluid. None of these words scare us. All we know for sure right now is that our kids are gender-riffic!

Eileen O'Connor is an unemployed, orphaned-wife-mother, who has decided to put into words all of the stuff that goes on in her head.

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