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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Let me be clear

A few weeks ago I wrote about grief.

I think I failed to articulate that positive parenting is a journey of mixed joys and sorrows.  These sorrows are not always disappointments. Some parents mourn the end of each stage of development, they mourn the passing of toddler mispronunciations, they cry at the child’s first day of school, last day of school, the list goes on and on.  Parenting is a continuing journey of change and development.  The baby that you gave birth to develops into a child and then an adult.

I have also written about the parents of Riley Mostel, who refused to use their child’s preferred pronouns, acknowledge his gender and were a significant contributor to the disturbed mental state that led Riley to suicide.  I am vocal in my condemnation of any parent who is less than 100% supportive of their child.  Personally I cannot comprehend a situation where a parent would reject a child on any ground, be it social standing, religion, shame.  That position is due totally to the parenting that I received from my amazing mum and dad and the freedom that I had to choose how I wanted to interact with the rest of the world.  In that I am truly blessed.

You know what else?  Parenting is hard, it requires effort, it requires sacrifice, it requires consistency, patience and endless love.  But the reciprocal rewards far outweigh the effort.  The primal love and energy which is instinctive and helps to get through those first vulnerable years where the majority of growth and development occurs in your child lessens as your child becomes more independent.  Parents come out of the “baby coma” and find that they can go out without having a small person following them to the loo, they can eat a meal at a time after the sun goes down off nice plates.  They start to think about their lives “pre baby”.  For first time parents there is even a misconception that some day this journey will end.  I remember thinking that I would have the goal post of 40 and my baby would be 18 and my job would be over.  That goal post moved to 46 when J came along.  Here I am, four weeks off J’s 18th birthday and my journey as a mum is far from being over for both my boys.  My eldest son, who I nearly lost at 16, can hover at the edge of depression that when he slides in, it can be very difficult to reach him to help him get help.  I lost my job two weeks ago, my Mum has been a constant voice of positive love and light at the end of the phone.  The nature of the tasks change but the role of “parent” remains one for life.

In my post about I wrote “The child you gave birth to is a miracle. The person they have become is a miracle. Acknowledge the loss of one but embrace the joy of the other.”  I have seen this interpreted as that somehow I now believe that I have not given birth to my child.  This shows such a lack of insight into the complexity of the parent – child relationship.  A baby becomes a child who becomes an adult.  The adult is not the baby that you gave birth to, when they were born they were a jumble of limited experience gained through (hopefully) 40 weeks in utero and the miracle of a tangle of inherited characteristics from the DNA of parents.  The adult reflects the wealth of experiences that time has given to them – every sight, sound, touch, taste, smell is absorbed and reflected back utilising the free will of that person to chose how they wish to appear to the world.  Parents have the privilege of guiding another human being through this maze of experience.  But we also have the responsibility of letting go, allowing free choice, trusting that the basic lessons that we taught are true enough and strong enough to be a foundation for positive choices.  Parents also require the wisdom to allow children to explore concepts and experiences outside those of their experience.

For the parent of a transgender child, a child who comes out as transgender places, initially, the greatest trust that a child can place in a parent.  It is one of the few experiences that parents can find themselves feeling overwhelmingly alone.  How that parent reacts probably reflects how they have parented to date.  I have used this blog to explore my feelings about Jeremy’s transition and I have been open with the negative as well as the positive.  In doing so I have hoped to reach those who really need to hear my words, those parents who feel overwhelmed with the transformation of their child from one gender to another, those whose experience with transition and options are limited and probably negative.  I have tried to strive for a point of positive and simple information giving to help parents feel less alone.

As for Jeremy, like any proud momma I measure the successes that are important to me.  I have a child who can maintain successful interpersonal relationships, who is academically successful, who is depression free, who is anticipating the next step in his transition. He is, and always will be, a child of my heart.

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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

What makes a man

I started this post a couple of weeks ago, I don’t often have difficulty writing but this topic has required some pondering and much discussion.

A couple of weeks ago I had a moment of dread, that cold grip in your tummy as the thought popped into my head “what if Jeremy isn’t man enough”.  I said something to my bestie who said “What does that even mean!!!” and she was right, what does that thought even mean.  What are my concerns really and are they genuine?

Firstly, I have a concern that my child will not look like their chosen gender when they transition.  I am concerned that if they don’t they will have a greater chance of being assaulted or harassed. I read so often about assaults on transgender young people that it creates a fear in me that isn’t really reasonable.  Jeremy doesn’t even think this makes sense, because in his mind if he presents as Jeremy then the world will conform and accept him as Jeremy.  I hope that his experiences meet his expectations and nothing negative happens.   When Jeremy starts to use testosterone he will look more and more masculine, which is the purpose of using testosterone. He is already wearing masculine clothes and has an amazing blue mohawk.  There is so much more though to being masculine and where will Jeremy learn these things?  Or is there, I don’t know?  I am feeling particularly ill equipped on this topic.

I have always said that my sons are an interesting study in nature v nurture.  Our parents are our first examples of being grown up and the parent of our gender is watched closely for clues to unlock the mysteries of how to navigate through the world.  My eldest has no memory of living with his biological father and lived with his step father for almost fifteen years.  Jeremy was twelve when his father and I separated.  They have gone through the selection process of what they like about the behaviours of their respective fathers and what they are less in love with.  I’m not saying that the parent of your gender is your only influence, that negates the efforts of single sex couples raising children, or indeed single parents who have little or no buy in from the other parent in regards to child rearing.  Even the absence of a parent can be an influence in the decision making process that we go through about our behaviours.  Each person is shaped by their experiences, which are unique.

The teen years are especially crucial in the decision making process about how to be, and as Jeremy is about to go through puberty again I suppose it’s like he has another chance to look at who he is and who he wants to be.  Because I am eternally meddling, I am taking the opportunity now to say to Jeremy “son, consider this”;

  • Take a look at my bestie’s husband, a man who thinks about the comfort of others, who is generous and warm and loving and lets the world know it through his actions.  A man who sat with me and cried with me at 3 am when my world was falling apart and said that I was strong and brave and that I could manage my way through what was happening.  A man who is a leader.  A man who has genuine friendships and is interested and engaged in other people’s ups and downs.  A man who has an unshakable love for his wife and child despite the challenges thrown at him by his work which means he has not lived in the same town as them for most of his marriage or he is away for extended periods of time.
  • Take a look at my friend. A man who I have watched as he cares for his child, giving up material success to support his child with never failing patience through a difficult journey of mental illness.  A man who is gentle and caring and has a wicked sense of humour.  A man who wouldn’t stop the car to get a coffee for himself, but if I want a coffee……….
  • Take a look at my dad, whose genius for loving made his daughters feel like princesses.  A man who took care of his family, working three jobs but still finding time to read his kids stories.  A man who always saw his role as washing up because he couldn’t cook and that was fair.  A man who delighted in the talents of his wife and recognised that she needed more in her life than the challenges of raising three children close in age and encouraged and supported her to have outside interests.  A man whose voice fills with joy when he answers the phone and one of his children is on the other end of the line.

I can teach Jeremy how to do stuff, like change a tyre, repair things, use tools, mow the lawns.  Jeremy will also find his own role models.  Today however, I want to gift to Jeremy the opportunity to look anew at the extraordinary talents of maleness that these men possess.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2015 in Uncategorized