RSS

Tag Archives: parenting

A moment of truth

 

Green Field Very big

Green field

Jeremy attended a funeral yesterday.

It was the funeral of a friend’s mother.  She was 50, had been a Rover in Brisbane, was a single parent, was the mother of a young transman.  For Jeremy there were aspects of this funeral that hit very close to home.

When he arrived home last night he asked for cuddles.  J isn’t the snugglebug that his older brother is but he is never denied a hug ever.  He started by telling me that he didn’t realise just how hard R’s life must have been, that his mother had nothing and that R and two of his brothers had to pay for the funeral.  That in between his mother passing and the funeral yesterday R had not had a moment to sit and think about his loss.

“I said  to him Mum, that he could come to us any time, that we love him and if he needs anything to let us know”.

“I’m sure that was a comfort to him kitten”

“I gave him $50 out of my savings to help, I wish I could do more, I wish I had known how hard it was for him”.

That $50 would have come from one of his money making schemes that he has tried while he continues to look for work.  It represents hours of creativity or ingenuity.  I know J would not have had a second thought about giving it to someone who he saw had a greater need.  Money has been tight in our home with now three young men, two looking for work and experiencing difficulties connecting to Centrelink,  needing food and heat and electricity and internet and that $50 takes him a little further away from his name change.  I feel that sacrifice.

Jeremy also gave me an insight last night that all that I have worked for he has seen.  It’s a message that has been lost a little lately between us.

I am terribly sad that a fellow mother has lost her life.   J is right though, R is always welcome here.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2016 in parenting, transgender

 

Tags: , , ,

On the brink of transformation

13692200_649485131882639_1137234624_o

It’s been over six months since E joined our household.  They have been six pretty delightful months, E is a pretty cool guy, but from his perspective they have been six pretty challenging months too.

As I’ve written about before, when E first came to us he had been trying to access services in rural Victoria, on the border of NSW.   There was confusion about his referral and the original reason he came to stay with us was because he was hoping to have a face  to face meeting with the psychiatrist rather than a skype visit,  only to find his consult in Melbourne had been referred to Canberra….. little did we know it was the first of many challenges.

E was the kind of young man I would hold up as an example of how to do teen stuff right.  He worked for the major fast food chain, did the management training, I told J this would mean he would be in employment soon.  But six months on, countless job applications later and E has had a little cash in hand work and two job interviews.  We worked on his tax returns and he had some cash in his account and when this year’s group certificate came in he did his tax himself, teaching a man to fish in action.  He has been unable to register for government assistance, although I have finally talked him through the process of gently refusing the government line of “your parents will help” to keep standing up for himself and saying that they have not and it is unlikely they will.

There have been some significant wins though.  Through a little transgender community grapevine action he connected with a well known GP who had recently moved to a new practice with the ability to take on new patients who referred him to a psychiatrist with extensive experience in the LGBTIQ community.  E now has his “diagnosis” and two weeks ago had his first T shot.  He has also started progressing through the recruitment process for an employer in a field in which he is interested in working.  It’s a field where being 21 and with no experience is not seen as a barrier as he is viewed as young, enthusiastic and a model for a new generation of disability carers, if he is successful.

His smile is wider, that gorgeous enthusiasm that marked him as someone special when we first met is bubbling to the surface again.  My heart couldn’t be gladder for him.

 

 

 

 
Comments Off on On the brink of transformation

Posted by on July 17, 2016 in parenting, transgender

 

Tags: , ,

Why T is not the answer

13548771_643356389162180_395226605_o

I’ll level with you, I have started this blog post about a hundred times.  My feelings about  Jeremy are so mixed each time I try and write it I get confused and my attempts to rationalise and unpick it gets sidetracked.

But here it is.  Testosterone was not the answer.  It has been a significant part of the answer but it has not been the solution in totality.

Since November Jeremy has been finished with school work.  In the last week he finally got to Centrelink to  register for Youth Allowance.  In between he has floundered in a sea of anxiety, lack of direction and dysphoria.  I’ve done my best to provide love and support but my patience and my bank balance are wearing thin.

For nearly three years we held onto a D date of Jeremy’s 18th birthday and his first injection of T.  On reflection I had no idea what I expected from this injection.

He is becoming more masculine day by day and that is fricking awesome.  His sideburns are epic and his goatee and sideburns are starting to meet on the sides of his face.  His voice is deeper and there are even times when he is comfortable without wearing his binder.

But those mental health issues that sent us to a psychologist pre-transition are still there.  They are exacerbated when he meets people in the general public that, despite beard and deep voice, somehow still misgender him.  Dealing with Government organisations has a special challenge, and I am pleased that the Federal government employees in Newport Victoria are much more aware of gender diversity than their counterparts in Werribee.

So mothers and fathers – I thought the step of starting T would be a bigger solution than it was.  It was a significant step but if I have learned anything from the last six months it’s that Jeremy has hopes and dreams about his physicality.  There are dreams that I have offered to make a reality but he is still considering the implications for himself.  He understands that he is in a position of privilege.  It doesn’t alleviate the underlying feeling that he has that his journey is just starting.  It doesn’t help when he feels that taking the first step isn’t accepted or understood.

It’s so unfair.  I see his peers at Uni, getting part time jobs.  He is so bright and engaging and that bundle of contrary actions that has bewitched me for nineteen years.  His legacy was supposed to be bright and successful.  The poor kid can’t even prove his identity because the forms are overwhelming and the questions daunting despite my support, love and credit card.

Time to put on my big girl panties and keep fighting the good fight.  Because if the world won’t voluntarily step toward J, I will damn well make sure it does under duress.

 

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Joy spreaders and truth tellers

How to have a lovely day

A blob of concentrated sunshine and joy in a glass – when I look at the marmalade that I made a couple of months ago I marvel at the intense orange, how it glows.  When it sits at the bottom of a G&T my favourite drink is enriched with the rich citrusy sweetness that is verging onto the point of caramel, melding perfectly with the sharpness of tonic water, the herbal hit of the gin.  But mostly I am amazed that my first attempt at jam making resulted in this culinary miracle.

I made marmalade after a weekend away to Rutherglen.  Staying with friends in Wahgunyah, nursing both a hideous cold and bruised and battered psyche I spent a lot of time in the backyard, standing at the fire, talking.  The owner of the house was a returned serviceman, a veteran of the Vietnam war.  I always feel comfortable talking to war veterans, no idea why, I just always have.  For me it was cathartic to talk about life, the history of the house, the street, the gnarled roots that he had fashioned into a functional table, anything to distract me from the maelstrom of black so slowly lifting from my mind.  His gift to me as I left was a massive bag of oranges off the tree in the front yard.  So the great marmalade adventure began.

The marmalade found many homes, just as the boys and I couldn’t eat kilos of fresh oranges, we couldn’t eat our way through kilos of jam either.  Jars went to my best friend and her mum and brother who both happened to be visiting Melbourne.  A big jar went to the friends who took me to Wahgunyah.  Jars big and small went to many houses.  I would occasionally get a random text message from someone who had just opened a jar to to tell me that the marmalade was yum.  That feedback was as rewarding as the creating of jam to start with.

Last night, talking this over with a friend, he said to me “You spread joy JoJo”.  I’ve never really thought about it. Now that I have, I love the concept.   I also love the picture that I put at the top of this post, and I apologise for it being pretty girly, but that’s me in a nutshell, I’m all about the pretty girl stuff.  I also believe that if you have a lovely day, then those around you will have one too, They don’t have to wear makeup and perfume, but I hope that when I follow the rules above, the people around me smile, they feel valued because someone has listened to them, they start to have  a lovely day because someone wished them a lovely day.

But life can’t be all perfume and jars of jam.  In the last week or so Jeremy and I have spent a lot of time talking about relationships and love.  We talked about holding on and letting go.  We talked about not holding on to something that causes us pain.  Some of the conversations that he and I have had together and with others this week have been hard.  They have been open and honest ones but fearful because we said things that the other people may not have been ready to hear.  Those conversations are risky too, but we both believe that to be authentic we need to be honest.

In one beautiful conversation Jeremy opened up and shared his thoughts on love.  He said that he believed that true love does not mean that you mirror each other, but that you understand each others differences and still want to hang out and talk to each other about your experiences.  It echoed some advice my dad gave me once, quoting from Khalil Gibran

“But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls”

I also thought “wow!!  You are going to have a phenomenal adulthood if you have this together at 18.”  So I think that J has hit this particular nail on the head.  He already understands that to be successful in a relationship he needs time to pursue his own interests, to be a good partner he has to achieve some self definition, some internal peace.  You cannot share yourself if you don’t understand yourself.

I also suspect, that someday this kid will rule the world in his own way.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 15, 2015 in parenting, transgender

 

Tags: , , , ,

Let the sunshine in

Four months today!

It’s no secret that the southern winters leave me feeling depleted.  We have been south since late 2002 so this is my 12th winter away from my beloved Queensland and it’s mild days.

For Jeremy it has been a turbulent time.  His body seems out of control, sprouting hair and acne, his voice is getting deeper and cracks on occasion.  He is restless, and yet lethargic.  He describes his hunger as constant and insatiable.  There are visible bristles on his chin, blonde and spiky and he is looking more and more like his father every day.  To be honest he has always unknowingly mimicked his father’s mannerisms, nowadays they are coming out of a face that increasingly looks like his dad and with a voice that will be deeper than his father’s.  It is a fascinating process to watch.

People had always said that Jeremy looked like me.  I’m not sad that this has changed, our faces change regardless throughout our lives and there are days when I look in the mirror and see my mum looking back when once people would remark how much I looked like my father (sans white beard).

The external manifestation of who we are is just that, external.  If the most beautiful face in the world comes with a hard heart, is that person truly beautiful?

There is always the comment that someone is a beautiful soul as if somehow that is a different and inferior type of beauty.  I would love to see a world where being kind to each other had a greater value placed on it than a thigh gap.  That kindness should colour our everyday interactions, from smiling at a stranger to the opportunity that I had today to put money into the dryers of a young family who were scratching around for change.  It wasn’t that I thought they couldn’t pay for their drying, it was that they had to make a further trip with a young child and that small act would cut down the time they had to spend doing a mundane chore.  Maybe it is the legacy of years of scouting where, as a matter of course, you did a good turn every day.  It was a practice that made you think externally, where the only reward you expected was that you had kept the promise that you made when you became a Scout (or Guide).

As Jeremy struggles with the internal turmoil that testosterone is causing I can hear him escalating in his discussions with other people. It feels to me, on occasion, that as he has struggled he has developed an almost adversarial communication style when in fact he is so unsure of everything that adversarial is the last thing he wants to be.   Last night it was a call to Lockie to let him know that pizza arrived, he was upset because Lockie was upset when he called.  I broke it down – Jeremy has been really upset with Lockie in the past when a time frame, real or perceived, has passed.  It’s a very old habit of J’s, predates his relationship with Lockie and has drilled me into being an exceptional communicator with my youngest child about any plan.  Lockie’s reaction last night was in response to Jeremy’s previous behaviour.  If Jeremy wants to change Lockie’s reaction, then he has to change his behaviour.  Like an Pantene commercial it won’t happen overnight, but they will get this aspect of their communication on track for being positive and both will feel more confident in discussing things with each other.  They are such a tight pair but I can see where their respective anxieties blocks a positive flow of communication.

I had to be confident in even starting that conversation with J last night, and I did so because right now he is transforming and has a unique opportunity to start new and positive habits.  It can happen in any kind of relationship, familiarity can lead to casual attitudes and curt communication.  But the upshot can sometimes be that people felt taken for granted, or not valued and from there something positive in your life can spiral down to negative.  If you broach where you can see this happening with people they can see your suggestion as criticism, and ain’t no one likes the criticism.  So you need to be prepared for those hurt feelings and be ready to explain where your comment came from and make sure that you are always talking from a position of love.  Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will be really really bad.  Sorry, even when you talk from a position of love on occasion the person you are talking to can’t hear what you are saying.

So in the depths of a cold and miserable Melbourne winter, in the absence of the sun lifting my spirits, I am relying on an almost lifelong practice of helping others to bring some sunshine and beauty into my life.  Now to make sure that exercise gets back in there too!

 
Comments Off on Let the sunshine in

Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Things getting real

2015 has been a goalpost in my mind for a long time.  I have had two years to come come to grips that this is the year that Jeremy starts his physical transition.

My own physicality was something that I put at the back of my mind.  In 2008 I started a long journey to gain strength and health through exercise and diet and by 2011 I felt amazing.  In 2012 however, a combination of factors combined to start me on a self indulgent slide back to my heaviest.  I spent last year addressing my mental health so was primed to start addressing how I look.

At Christmas I made a promise to my sister that I would exercise with her via a shared app.  Much as we would love to exercise together the Melbourne – Chicago commute is time and cost prohibitive.  So we check in with each other after we work out and this simple mechanism is enough to get me out of bed and turning on coach Justin for thirty minutes of exercise.  That plus a free food tracker has helped me to monitor what I take in.  Three weeks in and I realise the biggest difference is I now really want to change.  My muscles ache, some mornings I am really tired but I value myself enough to give myself a half hour three times a week.The changes have been small but they are there!!!!

Jeremy is not feeling great about himself so we have discussed what he can do.  I know first hand that depression sabotages your best efforts, poor self esteem can lead you back to the biscuit barrel far more than it does to the fruit bowl.  For a committed chocoholic like Jeremy the lure of the sweet is overwhelming as well.

So the plan is to help J start moving and eat better.  I’ve had to stay “no” to certain things, J has decided to make some changes and he will get support from me to help him stick to the changes that he wants to make.

Next week J has his blood tests, one step closer to starting cross hormone treatment.  These hormones will change his body, my wish is that J wants to makes changes so he can look in the mirror and see the handsome young man that I see.

 
Comments Off on Things getting real

Posted by on January 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

Love won’t always keep us together

I got to the end of everything this week.

Jeremy and his brother have had to pick up the pieces again.

I read an article recently about the seven worst things you can do as a parent.  I am happy to say that of all the mistakes I do make I didn’t make any contained in this article.  One that stood out to me was “be a friend to your kids”.  My boys are not my peers, I am the parent and while I believe in equality and fairness I also believe that these two offspring have a relationship to me that is very different to the relationship that I have with my friends.  I am not an automaton, much as the boys would like a momma robot who earns all the money, does all the housework and cooking and generally makes their lives easy and sweet.  They are dragged kicking and protesting out of bedrooms and into communal living areas where they are asked to talk about their days, do some tasks for the benefit of the family and basically take some steps into the land of “everybody else”.  I also believe that to be a good parent you need to show your vulnerability.  So I make no apologies for my breakdown this week.

In October my beloved and I went our separate ways.  It was my decision, one that was very difficult and reached after much reflection and broke both my heart and his.  We have had a few months of limited contact.  On Thursday he dropped off at work some bits and pieces that I had said previously he was welcome to keep.  Like the respectful and kind man he is he didn’t want to disturb me during my work day.  I have had the feeling this week that I should check in on him so the arrival of my possessions prompted a text and we arranged to meet after work before he headed back to the farm.  The boys joined us about an hour or so later for dinner and it was like the whole world was right and bright and happy.

and my heart broke all over again overwhelming me with pain and sorrow

But the reasons that I had for ending our relationship are still there.  They have little to do with with this lovely man, he did nothing wrong, was not careless, or hurtful or cruel.  It makes the decision indecipherable to him.

To live with honesty and truth takes strength.  To stay in a relationship where you can see that each person has their own goals and conversation leads down the same differing paths over and over again lacks honesty and it is better for each party to be on their own than continue barreling towards a point of hate and anger.  When you are not motivated by anger or hate you need strength to stay true to yourself.   The strength that I find so easily for my baby often eludes me when it comes to myself.

It was said to me once that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it is indifference.  I have used that sentence as a barometer to test how I feel about past relationships and whether I have truly healed or if I am nurturing some negativity that it is better to deal with.  I believe that if that sentence has a grain of truth to it then I have to acknowledge that by ending this relationship in the way that I did I have kept a positive link to a very joyful part of my life.  I am proud of that.

I did not have the strength or courage to end my marriage when I first felt I should.  I subjected myself and Jeremy’s father to a further 10 years limping along a path we convinced ourselves was right because we had a piece of paper.  I try to live without regret and I acknowledge that those ten years led us on an exciting journey and I have many wonderful friends from that time that enrich my life.  That does not take away that the damage to the four people of our family is still evident.  If I have learned any lesson I have learned that being brave and being alone are not the worst things in the world.

My wish for J is to always walk through life with strength and so I hope my example will guide him there.  In the meantime I treasure his cuddles and cups of tea offered as gifts to ease my tears.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,