One of the gifts that parents give you that you can’t give back are your siblings. I am the eldest, with a brother and sister, mum was busy making three babies in four years.
Jeremy has an older brother, five and a half years older to be exact. Today is his 24th birthday and he is on the other side of the world, waking up in to a late summer Berlin morning, with what may be a bit of a hangover as he has confessed that he went out last night with new friends. It sounds like he has settled into his overseas adventure quite nicely.
I often see posts from other parents asking how siblings were told that a brother or sister is transgender. I kind of skip over those questions, because i have nothing to share. Luke was told the same way I was told, via a message. He reacted the same way he does to so many things, he changed his reality to suit the new truth. He has never faltered with pronouns, never misnamed his brother, has always behaved with love and respect. There was no angst, no anger, no attention seeking behaviour. So I can’t help others by sharing a story that is so perfect in its unexceptional normalness.
Jeremy and Luke would have a very different relationship if my eldest child had been different. Somehow I raised a very special young man, reserved, strong enough to show when he is vulnerable, practical, a voice of calm and reason in a maelstrom of emotion and exhaustion and exuberance that Jeremy and I create just by being together.
It wasn’t always so. When J was little he felt that everything in the house was his. His brother’s room was fair game, he’d get in there during school hours and help himself. Teaching him boundaries was a constant ongoing lesson. There would be advantages though to not making a huge fuss when you are a big brother with a younger sibling who has restless fingers and a busy brain. They were usually treats in being allowed to stay up late, which my night owl loved. As they got older they would spend time together, sometimes because they had to as we posted from location to location and sometimes because they just wanted to.
Jeremy’s transition came at a dark time for his brother. I had declared that Luke had to leave Canberra, he was struggling with multiple issues, study, money, depression, spending time with him around his 21st I was concerned about his mental health. So J made his announcement as I was insisting that Luke make applications to universities in Melbourne and Brisbane. We journeyed together then as J settled into his transition. For the last eighteen months, as Jeremy has been doing distance education, Luke’s degree has been mostly late night lectures, leaving his days free and at home. At some point during that time, my boys became close friends.
Listening to each talk about the other is a delight. Luke has said to me that J gets everything that he wants. J says that Luke doesn’t have to do anything around the house……… but apart from that the respect and love they have for each other is beautiful to witness. When Luke first left I asked him how he was,he said simply that he missed Jeremy.
So on this special day, when we would normally be together and having a bottle of wine and yummy meal, one part of our circle and so a part of our hearts is on the other side of the world being grown up and having adventures. Happy Birthday Luke. Your have shown your brother such an amazing example of how to be a man. It may not be his version but the fabulous things about examples is that you can take the good stuff that appeals to you away. Momma loves you.