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Hindsight and 20 20 vision

so cool

There are days and then there are days.

Post Luke’s departure for Germany our lives have settled into a gentle rhythm – well for two weeks anyway, then J and I succumbed to the the dreaded lurgy, a chest rattling bronchitis that coupled itself with a fever and bonesapping lethargy.  During this period Jeremy had his first full testosterone shot.  This was quickly followed by the full effects of bronchitis and frightened me with spiking fever and lack of appetite, certainly not normal side effects of a testosterone shot.  Of we went to the weekend doctor.   Explaining Jeremy’s symptoms I added;

“Jeremy had a full testosterone dose on Friday”

“Why?” asked the doctor

“Because he is transgender, its part of his treatment”

“How long will she need to be on androgen?”

Seriously.  I did respond quite politely that treatment was forever, the doctor did check J’s blood pressure and heart beat and pulse and made sure J was only suffering from a virus and not any additional side effects.  Such is the casual ignorance that we face daily.

On the weekend, after a week of trying to get back to normal, J and I went out for lunch to a new little local place.  The weather was mild, one of those days when the air feels like milk on your skin and the sun finally made an appearance, a whisper of spring was in the air.  Over lunch J started talking about school, how he felt negative about not staying in a normal school, that he felt he could have tried harder. Had he done that he would be finishing school in three weeks time, instead his studies will be completed next year,  I must admit my response was pretty poor at the time, I think I was taken aback more than anything else.

Then yesterday I received an email from Ginger Gorman, a wonderful journalist who interviewed us a couple of months ago.  She had included some of J’s story into a wider article How do we stop transgender children being bullied at school? As I read it, the realisation hit me like a brick.  We are in the distance ed system because school was torturous, the every day rub of ignorance magnified because those that J relied on to teach him could not deal with him, added to the general ignorance of teenagers made a hostile environment.  His mental health was precarious, he was depressed, anxious.  His psychiatrist and I could see the toll it was taking.  The decision to move him away from that environment achieved one key goal.

Jeremy was mentally healthy enough to deal with the two and a half year wait for treatment,

I don’t know what the outcome would have been otherwise.  I can only say that with the benefit of hindsight, the decision that we made back then was the best one that we could.  Nothing in J’s life has been straightforward, it stands to reason that his senior studies will follow a slightly more circuitous route.

Point is he will achieve what he wants to achieve.  No one can ask for more, especially not me.

 

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Saying goodbye 

I came to a turning point about 12 months ago when I read an article by Mary Jacklyn Moss. In the article she talks about when her child transitioned and had she lost her child the sympathy would have been different.

I get it.

I delight every day in the happy healthy academically successful son who bounced into my life two years ago. He is a delight and I love him, I fight for him, I nurture him. I would not change him.

But two years on and I carry a huge secret. I still cry for Kate. Not every day. It’s no longer overwhelming. But I mourn my baby girl. It would be unnatural if I didn’t. Kate was a part of my life for nearly sixteen years. I would mourn the loss of anything that has been in my life for that long, of course I miss my daughter. Some of that grief is now stronger that we are so close to the start of hormone treatment. I need to be aware of that too.

Grief is a process and one that should be honoured. It is the acknowledgement that something precious has passed and the loss is felt and there is a memory to be treasured.  It cannot be rushed, it is a place of healing and knowing and no words can erase the effect.  By being open and honest with your feelings you can also heal and move forward.

So often I see posts from mums who are on board with transition but dads who aren’t, or vice versa, or parents who are trying but struggling. To you all I say “It’s ok. Cry, yell at God, pray, remember. Just don’t be overwhelmed. 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. When you think that you can’t go on, remind yourself that your success rate as a parent is pretty awesome and you can do this too.”

My daughter will always have a special place in my heart. Jeremy has a special place in my heart. They are equally precious. And as time goes on, and Jeremy becomes a more familiar entity I hope he always understands that every now and again I will need to look deep into his eyes to lose myself in the memory of my daughter.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Going back to the drawing board, or “Mum, my psychiatrist says you need to talk to someone”

Last week at the end of a day of back to back meetings, after a night of broken sleep because of Jeremy’s coughing, I dashed from Box Hill to the RCH for Jeremy’s second appointment with the psychiatrist.  Due there at 4 I was already half an hour late, brain dead, hungry having missed lunch, and walked zombie like into the hospital.  I grabbed a snack and put my head down on a table, aching for sleep.

Some days are harder than others.

I was about to get into the lift to go to the specialist clinic when Jeremy got out of the lift, 20 minutes before his session was due to end.   He had his usual “I am at war with the world” scowl that I have learned is his defence face.  We sat, talked about his session and Jeremy told me that the next session would be for me with the psychiatrist, apparently I need to talk to someone.  I won’t deny that it is a good idea, but an hour with my child’s mental health professional may not be the best solution to this particular problem.  The message I took away from that is that Jeremy is worried and that I am obviously on edge more than normal.  Message taken on board son.

Jeremy also said that he said to his psychiatrist that if he could he would start his stage two hormone therapy as soon as possible.  I know my reaction was less than positive, my head went straight to the court action that would need to be taken, the latest whinging e-mail from Jeremy’s father which failed to ask a single question about Jeremy’s welfare, and that not so long ago this kid told me that he wanted to wait until after VCE.  Tired momma doesn’t cope with back trackers.  Jeremy just said “Mum, this is IF it was just me to consider, not in the real world”.

I am never sure if my negative reactions are a sign of normal parenting or just that I am not as resilient as I should be.  I want to be open and supportive but I love a stable goal post.  J Dawg just ain’t the stable goal post kind of offspring.  So I worry, was this his way of opening up, now he’ll retreat back into his shell and something that he wants is now unable to be articulated.  I see so many scars from a past that seemed so happy but was full of an adult’s inability to love his child like a parent should.  A parent who saw his child as an extension of himself and delighted in the mirrored traits, unable to cope with the individual as a whole.  A child who yearned for approval from a father who would pop in and out of our lives due to the nature of his work and learned what had to be done to get that approval, be sporty, listen to whatever daddy says, be interested in whatever new interest daddy has.  It was going to end poorly at some stage.  I have an ever awareness that despite my love Jeremy still has these patterns of behavior, not wanting to upset and especially not wanting to upset me because I am his stability.  It is an unenviable position on occasion.

Onto Monday where we went to school for a much delayed appointment with the guidance counsellor.  J and I (still sick) coughed our way through an hour long conversation of options and decisions.  We came away with many ideas for Jeremy for year 11 and 12 and I made the following stand: My preference is for Jeremy to finish year 12 with an ATAR so that he can attend University.

Jeremy does not have to go to Uni but I am not doing the right thing if I don’t make every attempt to get him to a point where he can go if he chooses to.

Jeremy disclosed that he doesn’t want to be a psychologist any more.  He talked about doing hospitality so he could get a job. I keep having the idea floated that he could do a baking apprenticeship. As an adult he has no idea how disparate these ideas are and how he shows no real inclination, no vocation for any of this.  My point remained that as a responsible parent I have to be open to all ideas and options.  If Jeremy spent all his time in the kitchen  experimenting with dishes, showing interest in baking cupcakes or developing curries, I would support his idea of finishing via VCAL. Jeremy can cook resentment into his pasta sauce, this is not his passion or his talent.  We discussed though that it is still open to Jeremy through the VCE program to do a certificate in hospitality if he chooses.  He can be the best qualified dish pig working his way through Uni as he realises that he has the talent to do what ever he damn well chooses.

Having looked at the Victorian College of the Arts and RMIT I think we have consensus that the VCE program at RMIT may be the solution that we are looking for – an older demographic of student in a Uni atmosphere should be the non judgmental environment that will give Jeremy some relief from the “douche” factor he is facing at “normal” school. With school holidays around the corner Jeremy is going to check it out.  I nurse a little sorrow that he will probably not have a formal but hey, he has so many other rights of passage in his own social group that I shouldn’t sweat the lack of renting a tux and a stretch Hummer.  In the long term the real goal is to have all the tools to be able to follow any dream that he chooses, when he is old enough to define his dream.  Because this kid shows all the signs of being able to be at the top of whatever field he does finally settle on – the looks, talent and personality are a winning combination.

The ever shifting sands of Jeremy, maybe he could be a soap opera writer?

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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