I remember when I had my first son, I was gifted an overwhelming amount to clothes, many things he didn’t even get to wear for growing so fast. I got a large tub and stored the extra away, then when baby number two came, who was also a boy, I was already stocked with what was still a pretty decent amount of clothes. For the next four years or so, I was meticulous about how my boys looked, especially in public, but most particularly around my family, as they were always the most vocal about how what my boys would wear. If their shoes weren’t name brand it was a problem, if their hair wasn’t perfectly lined up it was a problem, if they wore non- brand clothes—it was a little less, but still a problem.
My husband and I didn’t see the need for name brand clothes or shoes—my boys couldn’t read to tell the difference, but more than that, they actually liked the character shoes from the big box stores and the two piece short sets that dawned dinosaurs and trucks on the front of. More than that, when my kids were small we lived in one of the whitest of towns in America (exaggerating, but not really), where except for the occasional baby gap or Gymboree kid, most of the children sported the same big box store fare and non name-brand shoe too-. It was easy and inexpensive to simply do as the Romans and my kids (at least clothes-wise) fit nicely in.
Then, about four years in things got worse, I got pregnant with my third child and lost even more energy to care. Tired all the time and pretty much constantly at my wit’s end, I’d watch my neighbor who had four young kids herself. She seemed to always be happy although as nicely as I can put it, her kids always looked a mess. They’d be outside with anything from no shoes on, to cowboy boot in the winter, to superhero constumes or whatever else their little hearts felt complelled to wear. I’d look out my window mortified, their mother never seemed to care. In fact, she had one and a half more kids than me (my third was still baking), but was 1000% less stressed. Once while we were chatting, I asked her about the state of her kids apparrel affairs, and she answered me ever so intelligently by telling me why she chose not to not to trouble herself with the matter, “In the grand scheme of things it’s really not a big deal” was her way of thinking, and it gave her one less thing to worry or fight with her kids about.
“Genius”, I thought! I followed suit and gradually learned to lightened up, not to the level of my fashion-ly apathetic neighbor, but if my kids picked an outfit that didn’t match, or played outside with mismatched shoes and we suddenly needed to run to the store, it was no longer the cause of the end of the world. Now, I’d love to say I’ve let go of outside opinions completely and extended this carefree attitude to include the family barbecues ,cousin’s birthday parties, and at my son’s all predominantly all black school, but then I’d be lying and I mostly like to tell the truth. Just as I’ve done from the very beginning, I continue to make sure that my kids are on point for all black situations—because at the end of the day I’m a work in progress and, well…… there are just some things you do when you’re family is black