Dear son: Wear your rainbow shirt with pride

I want to encourage my son to express pride and allyship, but I also want to shield him from everything else that may come with making a statement in our small town.

pride month kids
Photo: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

Dear son,

I bought a new Pride shirt to add to our collection. Who could resist a sloth holding a rainbow flag? Since Pride Month was just beginning, I knew one of us would wear it. I didn't think it would be you, though.

You came downstairs ready for rehearsal, rainbow flag on your shirt, threatening to knock me over. You are not my outspoken one. You're not the first one to stand up for causes or voice your opinion. You're always a little worried about causing a stir or drawing too much attention to yourself. Your strong convictions come out in quiet conversations and contemplative car rides.

I appreciate your approach and demeanor. It's a lot like mine. Which is why I know not to say much. You are a preteen now, and if I draw attention to the statement on your shirt, you might smile, but you might shrink with embarrassment. Or slip away to change into something from your usual rotation.

Together we leave for our busy morning. I consciously tamp down the edges of my smile, but seeing you in that shirt makes me want to follow you around with a confetti cannon and applause.

The booth you've chosen when we stop for doughnuts puts me back-to-back with two women deep in conversation. Their bibles contend for space with coffee cups and powdered sugar. Their flowered dresses and pearls remind me that it's Sunday morning. One woman gives your shirt an up and down glance. I want to believe I've mistaken her look. Maybe she just enjoys sloths and rainbows. There's a chance those women have no idea what a brave statement you're making.

But there they sit, and here we are.

I struggle through an airy conversation with you while sharp words drift my way. They discuss the sins of same-sex couples and the success rates of conversion therapy. I'm not sure if this conversation was intended for us. They didn't seem to be speaking loudly so we could hear, although I'm sure they didn't mind if we did. As wrapped up in their outrage as they seemed, I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd welcomed a microphone between the cream and sugar.

As I tried to drown out their conversation, I looked across at you—my sweet, naive child—and tried to concentrate on your words. I tried hard not to stand up or twist around and say all of the things I wanted to say to those women behind me. Not because they didn't deserve it, but because I didn't want you to know.

I don't know who you will be yet, or who you will love. I don't know whether that Pride shirt that fits us both is for you or for a friend or for the LGBTQ+ people we know and love. But just for a little while, I want you to stay blissfully ignorant of the other side of this wall. I want to help you paint a rainbow over the hate that is out there.

When you think back to the day you decided to wear this statement emblazoned across your chest, I want it to be a good memory. I want you to remember that your mom let you get an extra doughnut, and she didn't do anything to embarrass you. (At least I don't think I did.) And that just about every kid at your theater rehearsal said "nice shirt"—and that the child wearing the tank top with a unicorn jumping over a rainbow said it with extra enthusiasm.

For now, I hope to lift the burden of hate off you whenever I can. You will have plenty of years of reality. Plenty of time to decide if you're ready for Pride parades and the protestors at its fringes. Years to be old enough to make your social media accounts public and respond to or delete comments from people who don't like your latest selfie or the shoes you wore with those jeans.

As your mom, I know I need to teach you strength and advocacy and how to be an ally but I also have to decide how much to hand you and when. It's my job to know when you're ready to carry more.

For today, I will simply give you an encouraging smile, a quick "love your shirt" and a ride to the most accepting places we know. You've taken a step, and whether it's for you or countless others, I'll be right here by your side.

This story originally appeared on Apparently.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

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You deserve hugs, love, recognition and so much more. But I will settle for the next best thing, which is to write you a little love letter.

I am a midwife, and that means two things:

  1. I am a total birth nerd
  2. I want to hug every new mom I see

But we are in a pandemic, which means that the latter is impossible—and this makes me impossibly sad. You deserve hugs, love, recognition and so much more. So I will settle for the next best thing, which is to write you a little love letter.

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