Dear Worried, Freaked-Out, Doubting, Anguished, Horrified and Loving, Wonderful Mom

6 Sep

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!

Love,

Your Fellow Mom of an absolutely incredible kid! (sorry, just had to say!)

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9 Responses to “Dear Worried, Freaked-Out, Doubting, Anguished, Horrified and Loving, Wonderful Mom”

  1. Stacy September 16, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    So happy I have found this blog! I am the mother of a FTM son in a very small community. He is just starting hormone replacement and will be 18 in Dec. we have been on this journey for over four years and I have never wavered or denied him my support and love. It is so nice to be able to connect with other like minded parents! It saddens me to hear of other children being discarded or denied by their parents for being themselves. Looking for advice on helping my son deal with the suicide of one of his friends in another country, he is in counseling weekly and we do have a supportive family but he is having a hard time dealing with this loss as the parents played a large part in this child’s despair? He cant understand (and neither can I) why a parent would choose to have no child instead of accepting the differences in the one you are given. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    • transmom October 4, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

      I Stacy- it can be especially difficult in a small community to find the support and understanding you and you son need. (FTM, right?). Until only recently when this became a national topic, only 9% of folks actually knew anyone that was trans. Unfortunately (not that it excuses it), but ignorance often means folks jump to conclusions and behave or react in ways that are out of fear when they SHOULD be reacting in loving and thoughtful ways! Keep talking with your child and in your community. Through you, your friends will learn compassion. That love you know, will spread!

  2. TheViewFromHere October 3, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Perfect! Thank you so much for this beautiful perspective from a couple years away from where I am with my child now. I appreciate you sharing that this will be all right. That showing my child LOVE and ACCEPTANCE is the only way to go. You are so right. Gratitude.

  3. JeanG November 27, 2015 at 7:18 am #

    I am trying to engrave all that you said in your blog onto my mind, so as I can recall it every time I feel as though I have been discarded by my son along with his name.
    My 24 year old son has told me he is transgender and heading for surgery in Thailand next year, he has researched it all very well and will do this no matter what.
    Trying desperately to understand that it is all about him and as you say his dreams, when they are so opposed to mine. I am freaked out at him being sliced up in Thailand and want to hide under a rock when the extended family discover whats going on.I feel as though I have had 2 deaths in the family this year, my husband and now my son. Thank you so much for your words and hope for the future.

    • transmom December 1, 2015 at 3:32 am #

      I’m sending you messages of CONTINUED strength and courage!!

  4. Sheila December 23, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    I have always new my daughter was a lesbian (she never “came out” we all just new) she married a beautiful girl , that I love, 2 years ago. My daughter is 27, in October of this year she had her breasts removed. She lives in a different state that I do but I talk to her daily and we have always been very close. She told me she has started taking testosterone shots. I love her deeply, please don’t understand that, but I feel like my daughter is dying… She continues to say “I’m still me, I’ll always be me” I’m trying so hard to understand….

    • transmom December 24, 2015 at 9:10 pm #

      Dear Sheila, No one can ever tell you that what you are feeling is NOT a death- I know that is the way it feels for so many mothers of transgender children ESPECIALLY for those of us with adult children! You have known your daughter as a daughter for 27 years- her entire lifetime- and that experience is anchored in a reality, a truth that has now been thrown out and discarded. That truth that your psyche relies upon is being replaced by something uncomfortable and completely new. There was an intimacy around your love and acceptance that must be relearned (and you didn’t exactly ask for this!) and that piece is NOT emotionally easy to accomplish!! She IS still her..even when her name is changed and she is “he” and flat-chested and with facial hair. But that new identity, you will have to meet and experience in order for your inner-self to recognize, believe and accept. THIS IS INCREDIBLY HARD!! Please understand that for your child, however, this is NOT hard: this is where they need to go and they want to with them (the BEST part of the whole deal!!). Let yourself accept the process and know that this takes time. And in time (3 plus years for me to arrive at that place!) you will realize you are in a place of TOTAL acceptance! Keeping workin’ it and talking to your child! Feel free to write me at any time!

  5. Wren Carwright March 16, 2016 at 10:20 pm #

    Dear Mom- it’s almost as if you can read my thoughts. I am the mom of a 21 year old who, 14 months ago, literally out of the blue, revealed to us that he is transgender. There was literally no clue. The pain and grief are so unbearable some days and I have so little understanding. How can I come to a place of acceptance without understanding?
    I am so glad that I have found your blog. I am starting from the beginning and working my way forward in time. Thank you for writing. Thank you for insight and encouragement. Thank you for helping me to see that I am not alone.

    • transmom March 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

      You are so very welcome, Wren!! There IS absolutely a beginning to this journey. If your are suddenly thrust into ANY situation without warning, it is only natural that you would feel stunned and unprepared!! I felt completely undone and I had all the warning signs in the world!! For some of us, that’s just how this rolls out.

      You are already on your way: you have started to reach out and find other moms that have experienced the same thing!! Pain and grief can overwhelm us because we hold a different truth in our hearts, and if you will, that we rely upon those truths. Now that truth is no longer accurate and we can become struck with fear. When I was at this stage, I also found that trying to make sense of the truth was often painful. Confronting ourselves is hard work!

      While you are learning to accept the new identity of your child, you are charged with simultaneously accepting that even though you want it all to remain as it was before, it can’t be and it won’t be the same. Remaining the same is NOT going to make your child happy. So you will be okay with that- this is all about your child being happy!

      I am confident that you will find a place of peace! By continuing to reach out for your own support (key!!) as well as by reaching out to your child, you WILL get there! I believe the understanding comes from reading about the journeys of others like your son. Your acceptance will come from the most powerful understanding that you ALREADY have, Wren: that no matter what, you love your kid! That love will propel you ahead!!

      I think the beginning stages were all about me:
      I was afraid.
      I didn’t want this.
      I was embarrassed.
      I was worried about what others might think.
      I worried that I had failed as a mother.

      The list seemed endless. In time, however, I learned that I had to get out of my own damn way and get on with it because those thoughts were hindering my child. I could be there for him if I was consumed with myself.

      I hope you will continue to reach out. I hope you will consider writing down those feelings and fears, so that you can set aside them on paper as you read and connect with your child anew!! You’ve got this!!

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