I often hear from mothers that are experiencing absolute anguish with the recent disclosure by their child. Been there…done that! It breaks my heart and literally bring tears to my eyes that mothers when I know such pain! From my personal experience, I know it doesn’t always have to feel that way and I wish I could transport every single one of you to that blessed time! And so I write this open letter to you:
Dear worried, freaked-out, doubting, anguished, horrified and loving, wonderful mom:
Being a parent is often our lives’ most difficult challenge! I so appreciate that you worry about your son/daughter’s future! I had the same worry swim in my head late night after late night while I tossed and turned: Will he find love in their life?!! And, Mom, I DO hear your concern that so many children seem to suddenly identify as transgender….I hear you asking, “How is this happening so frequently when I never even personally knew one transgender person my entire life!?! How does THAT work?!” And I know that sinking, desperate disappointment: this is NOT my dream for him! And the anger, too that lives there: “I did not sign up for this! I have been a good mother. I have always loved and supported my kid! I don’t deserve to be shamed- this looks like I am a crappy parent. What the hell!?!” And I know the fear down deep that somehow, I inadvertently did something to cause this transition! Should be blaming myself?!
Mom, I was not one that simply applauded my daughter’s (now son’s) decision to change genders. I felt as if these overwhelming feelings were going to render me unable to do anything: they were always in my head. I had accepted many gay friends throughout the years and just wondered why my kid couldn’t “just be gay”? I didn’t get then that gender is not the same as one’s sexual preference and frankly, in the beginning, I didn’t want to get it.
Two and a half years later, dear Mom, I am in a different place. I am a different parent and for certain, a changed individual! And, honestly, I am absolutely BETTER for this experience being thrust upon me! I wouldn’t have taken this journey unless I had to…but I am so, so very appreciate that I have!!
Initially, when I tried to blame myself, my therapist said, “Get over yourself. You do not hold so much power that you determine your child’s gender.” I learned and came to accept that whether or not I would have noticed differences and supported those earlier on, or even if I had chosen to deny any “clues” of what was to come, these behaviors on my part had nothing to do with my child’s being transgender. My kid is who he is. And like everyone else on the planet who embraces their own choices for themselves in friends, partners and professions, my kid gets to decide his life for himself as well.
It DOES take time!! But I found that I could eventually accept that my dreams were just that: MY dreams. Not my kid’s. And that the other people in my would get over themselves or not have the power to ruin my life with their negativity. I learned I had choices in how much power I gave to folks. I learned to not get sucked into the vortex of whether this was “real” or not…I had to learn to respect that my child had a right to their choices and that it didn’t matter that they agreed with me or even asked for my opinion. My kid just asked me for my love. To meet him where he stood. Period.
Will your child find love in their life? All great moms want this for their child! And my response to this is, if YOU are UNCONDITIONALLY loving to your son or daughter- ESPECIALLY at this time of tremendous difficulty- he or she is MUCH more likely to be able to love others. YOU are modeling how to love through difficult times…YOU are giving the message that THEY ARE WORTH LOVING!! So I ask you (and I know this is blunt), if your child’s own mother doesn’t fully accept them, how do think your child will love him or herself enough to take the risk of expecting someone else to love them? If you DO have control over something in your child’s life, my fellow mother, THIS is it!!
So here’s to your struggle, dear worried, freaked-out, doubting, anguished, horrified and loving, wonderful mom! You got this! You can absolutely love your child- today, tomorrow, and forever. They won’t look the same. They may not sound the same. You may not understand their choices. You will continue to worry about them. You may roll your eyes in frustration. But you CAN and WILL love them NO MATTER WHAT!
Your Fellow Mom of an absolutely incredible kid! (sorry, just had to say!)