This is a season filled with celebrating events: graduations, retirements and weddings to name three to which I have recently attended. Therefore, it seems that my “engrained expectations” seem to be at hand when I am at such a gathering. As a child of the 60’s and coming of age in the 70’s in a family well steeped in “traditional American values”, I sometimes find myself off-kilter during such events. I grew up KNOWING and assuming that (like most of my friends’ children actually are) I would have cis-gendered, heterosexual, and successful (by upper-middle class standards) children that were Democrats and held typical occupations (are you rolling your eyes?). This is what I actually believed ever since the age of what, three? five? I dreamed of wearing a white wedding dress and having beautiful children and that those children would, in turn, do the same. That was until, well, I went through a divorce and still later again, when my eldest informed us he was trans. And that I further realized that my trans-son would not conform to a “typical” lifestyle, nor occupation. I know, this is particularly loathsome and embarrassing to admit, but it is my truth. I own it.
So when I have occasion to attend events to which like-minded families converge and parents who were raised with similar beliefs stand around to reconnect through the sharing of updates of their growing or now adult children, it is as if my pre-programmed DNA screams, “Hey! Where is YOUR “normal” looking family? How are you gonna give the update on how YOUR son is doing?” Now mind you, not one of my friends is asking these questions, nor is anyone anything but supportive of my trans-son. No one is casting side-glances or conspiratorially whispering nearby. This is ALL IN MY HEAD.
I have to confess…when I sat and watched the traditional wedding ceremony realizing my son will never have anything to do with such spectacle, part of me was bummed. When I attended a recent retirement party and the hetero-son introduced his oh, so adorable fiancé, part of me was, yup, say it Girl: jealous. After receiving the announcement containing a photo with parents embracing their hetero-child at a law-school graduation, I winced. I have to admit there is a longing, an ache that is not present except for rare times such as these. Admittedly, that twinge was there A LOT when I first learned I was a trans-mom…but despite the months that have passed and all that I have learned about these expectations being ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS in what REALLY MATTERS in life…I acknowledge (in order to be honest with myself and with you) that I have been hard-wired to feel this kind of hurt.
So I hope you will join me in my quest to embrace the journey: accept that these pangs of doubt and loss will find their way to the surface now and again, but know that they are meaningless. Understand that just because we were programmed and immersed in propaganda of such standards- it is love, acceptance and tolerance that are the ONLY values that matter!