From Tami: The Red Pajamas

Hanging to Dry
This is the story of the red pajamas. My friends and family know this story well.

I knew, as a young mother, that kids go through phases. I tried my best to always respect those phases. I tried to stay relaxed in the face of societal criticisms. But no matter how much I knew that phases pass, once in a while I would let societal pressures get to me. I would worry about what other people thought. One time I acted on these worries, and the memory of what happened is still one of my deepest regrets as a mother.

When my son—my headstrong, sensitive, hilarious son, who has marched to the beat of his own drummer since the day he entered the world—had a pair of red, fleece, onesie pajamas with feet. Actually, he had a few pairs of the red pajamas, so that I could keep him in clean red pajamas. For months, the only time he would take off the pajamas was to take a bath. Once clean, he would only put on another pair of the red pajamas. For months, everyone I knew only saw my almost-three-year-old in one outfit. My friends would gently tease me about it, and I started to feel a bit judged. I shouldn’t have, but motherhood is not simple. Eventually, I caved to the pressure. I had enough of the red pajamas.

I went to take the pajamas off, and he knew it. Now, for reference, this boy had more energy as a toddler than any other toddler I have ever met. When he was barely two, he once ran a mile and a half in a snowsuit. So when he saw me coming with a new set of clothes—a set of clothes that were neither red nor pajamas—he took off. He ran, full speed, around the house, trying to evade me. And I chased him, clothes in hand. He ran, periodically glancing over his shoulder to keep me in view. And in one of those moments, when he was looking at me rather than in front of himself, he ran right into a sharp corner.


There was so much blood. His ear was completely split, and you could see the cartilage. He was screaming in pain. I was horrified, terrified, and very pregnant with #4. I had caused this, because I couldn’t just allow my son the pleasure of his red pajamas.

At the ER, they first thought we had left part of the ear in my dining room. My heart stopped again, but after they cleaned him up they realized that everything was there, if a bit mangled. They called a plastic surgeon to repair the damage, and we went home. I offered him his red pajamas as a comfort measure. He refused.

He never wanted to wear them again.

I was crushed. Waves of guilt washed over me; I felt like I had betrayed my toddler. I had been so aggravated by the pressures of appearing like a good mom that I made a huge mistake and ignored my mom instincts. Instead of letting the phase work its way out, I ended it abruptly. My child was both traumatized and physically hurt, and I am still not quite over the guilt. That was the first and last time that I tried to interfere with a clothing phase. I thought I was flexible about how they dressed before? Well, I got a lot more flexible after that.

I think that it is a parent’s right and responsibility to make sure their children are dressed appropriately for major events, but on a day-to-day basis I don’t fight their style choices. It just makes sense to me—their individuality is their own, and it isn’t my place to interfere with that. It is a safe and harmless way for them to explore their budding sense of self, to craft their own identities.

It can be tough to let your kids out of the house looking ridiculous. It can be embarrassing when you feel like you might be judged for your child’s fashion choices, as if you aren’t taking proper care of them. At any age, from toddlers to teens, it takes a strong mother to ignore the whispers of society. But you are that mom, and your kids are lucky to have you. Whatever your child needs, you do your utmost to provide it.

That’s why you’re a SuperMom.


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