My sweet boy has always been slightly precocious. As an introvert, there's only one thing (other than the annoyance of his older sister) that pulls his meek voice into the open — me. If I'm in distress (however minimal), he's the first to come rushing in to help. In my partner's embrace, he's also the one to break us apart. These small acts are further reminders of the ways my toddler taught me to stand up for myself, long before I actually knew how.
My son and I have always been close. I guess I could credit the long, grueling journey I went through in order to have him, which started with two miscarriages and ended with him and I nearly dying during birth. We're very similar, but he highlights the parts of me that still need work, including my inability to stand up for myself — something my baby boy often does for me.
When he comes to my defense I see the ferocity he's capable of, despite the inwardness he's typically drawn to. He shows me it's possible to stand up for yourself, even when the world feels too loud or scary or big. I mean, if he can stand up for me, and use his tiny voice so that it forces everyone to pay attention, why can't I stand up for myself? Here are some of the ways my toddler son teaches me, every day, that I can unapologetically advocate for myself. I have a voice and it matters.