Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reverent

Can you be the mother of a trans child and be defined in the world as powerful.

Yes.

I am the mother of a transgender child who has claimed power.

I am a mother who has defined herself as a powerful mother of a trans child, of her child's trans friends, one who will fold herself into the crowd to protect his rights, their rights, be his and their advocate, represent him and them to those who are afraid, ignorant, hateful.

When Chris came out as trans in our family, I was resistant, sad, worried, fearful, absorbed. It took me a while, maybe too long, but the day came when I realized that ME, I, would be the one, the person, the point in Chris' life with our family that would determine how he would be accepted.

It took me too long.

Not so long at all, I think, in the scheme of things, really. But, it was long. Longer than it needed to be.

My husband waited.

My son waited.

My mother waited.

My youngest daughter never waited for me or anyone.

Maybe, it was the encouragement, immediate acceptance, the defiance of my youngest daughter that forced me forward. It certainly helped. She never questioned Chris' need to be who he needed to be. She called him Chris from the very first moment he identified as Chris. She, our youngest child, taught me reverence, taught me to be determined, taught me to defy.

It's not an easy journey - not for Chris, not for any of us, but ... when I realized that trans people, my child, needed me, needed our family, that is one of the detrimental moments when I embraced, accepted, understood Chris being trans.

It's rare now, when I look on Chris being trans as anything more than a normal in our family, in our lives. I tell people easily, "One of my kids is trans," with a smile, with pride, with reverence.

That's it.

Our lives. Chris' life. All trans people's lives should be defined as "reverent" -  Reverent: adjective: feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.

I feel powerful being the mother of a girl child who was sad, drowning, lost ... but who found her way in this wicked world to redefine who she needed to be to survive and became someone other than I described, someone other than the world described, to be who HE knew himself to be. I feel powerful to be the mother of a child who would change the child I gave to the world to be something even more amazing ...




Wednesday, July 3, 2019

I've Always Flown A Freak Flag

June was Pride month. I was lucky to be in Chicago for their Pride Fest and Parade on Sunday, June 30th with three of my children and a few of their friends.

A few days before leaving for Chicago, I was in my bathroom trying on a few of the Pride/rainbow items I found online and Alexis, my 17-year-old daughter was sitting in the bathtub (she often does this when I'm in my bathroom getting dressed - she sits in my large, whirlpool bathtub and watches/talks to me). As she was watching me, she snapped a picture of one of my outfits to send to her sister.

I said, "Do I look ridiculous? I look ridiculous, don't I?"

She said, "No. You look cute."

I thought she was being sarcastic. I said, "Really?"

She said, "Yes. Just the fact that you care enough to participate by wearing rainbow colors, by going to Pride parades with your kids, it's cute, it's good."

We went on for a bit discussing that and she said, "I have friends who have come out as gay whose parents are not supportive. It's good that you're so supportive."

When I was at the Pride Parade on the streets of Chicago with a reported one million other participants and supporters, I was approached many times by people complimenting my outfit, wanting to take pictures with me, people grabbing me and enthusiastically and lovingly including me in their celebrations. I'm often all about dressing up for occasions (4th of July, Halloween, Memorial Day, Women's Marches, etc.), but I wouldn't dress up and participate in any event I wasn't actually emotionally, mentally or happily invested in, and Pride was and is no different. I wore rainbow colors to not only fit in, to BE a link, to be supportive and interactive - I wore rainbow colors because I am a proud mother of a lesbian daughter and a transgender son, a proud person that supports, depends on and relishes diversity in our society, and a woman who prides herself for being on the right side that is often so wronged. And, I proudly consider myself a part of the LGBTQ+ community.



My children sometimes tire of my flamboyance, I know this. I sometimes tire myself. But ... when I was in Chicago, in our AirBnB and trying to decide which outfit to wear (should I wear the thigh-high boots I brought? should I wear the rainbow corset? should I wear the rainbow dress? should I just wear the sweat pants with the rainbow stripe on the sides with a white T-shirt? ...), worried a bit that I might be too flamboyant, worried that I might embarrass my kids, worried that I wouldn't fit in ... my youngest daughter said, "Wear the boots. Wear it all. If you're going to go, go big!" My other daughter said, "Wear whatever you want, Mom." I chose the dress over the corset, and the thigh-high boots and a cowboy hat with a rainbow-heart sticker I put on it. When we left the house, I sort of looked for signs from my three kids - signs of embarrassment, signs of discomfort, signs of anything. All I noticed was they treated me as they always do - with acceptance. I was just an extension of their own diversity; nothing odd or ridiculous. They are used to me (and my clothes), of course, but maybe, they view me as a part of the reason they are able to survive happily and gracefully - me and my willingness to step out in the world, vulnerable, not truly knowing that I will be accepted. Maybe.

I've been told in my life pretty often that I have a "freak flag" (noun: used in reference to the open, proud, or defiant exhibition of traits regarded as unconventional.) I never seem hesitant to fly, and that is partly true. I think it is because I have never quite fit in. You just know when you fit it and you know when you don't. Somewhere along the way I realize that what people tried to define "wrong" with me, were the things I liked best about myself, and, so, I nurtured those parts of myself, embraced them and often wave my flag to define them, even if flying that flag made/makes people uncomfortable, makes me uncomfortable.

Dressing for the Pride Parade was my way of flying my own flag, but more importantly, it was my way of helping to draw attention and offering recognition to their lives, their worth, their flag. I think I did that.










Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Saving Smiles

“Did anyone really know their child? Your child was a little stranger, constantly changing, disappearing and reintroducing himself to you. New personality traits could appear overnight.” *Big Little Lies*


I heard this tonight and immediately realized I was nodding my head, as if to indicate to someone that I agreed. I was alone, for no one to see.

My mother mentioned to me recently that she noticed a framed photo in her house of Courtney and Chloe when they were little. She said, "I never noticed it before - how Chloe looked in that picture. Sort of lost. Subdued. Wilting. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this is how Chloe looked in a lot of her photos. Sort of lost."

(In this photo, it is Chloe on the right)



Chloe was first a female. Then, Chloe came out as a lesbian. Then Chloe became Chris. These were some of the most obvious changes, but there were so many more.



When Chloe was small, born the first born of identical twins (on the left in this black/white photo), to me, she and Courtney were very much alike, not just in appearance, but in personality - both happy, interactive, filled with curiosity, ambition and life. She and her twin, Courtney, were very close, competitive in a positive way (I thought), identical in so many ways. And yet, when I look back on their lives now, as they grew from toddlers to adolescences to teenagers ... inside of me I have a strong hindsight awareness of how often Chloe changed in her life, how there were times when she was young that I, now, recognize how unsettled she might have been or was; an uneasy feeling I have that surrounds her in some of her life, a feeling that makes my heart sink. Going through those many years with both girls, I didn't recognize subtle sadness's, hidden fears, feelings of maybe being lost. They both seemed happy, always, yet, there are pictures that capture Chloe in such a way that I have to question what her thoughts were, where is her personality in those pictures, was there things I missed?




"How do you tell them apart?" people would often ask. I'd say, "Courtney has a rounder head to Chloe's oval, and Chloe has more hair, and the shape of their eyes are slightly different." But then I'd always add, "I just know them. I can tell them apart easily. To me they are different." And this was true, but I was also the one that found great joy in their being identical, dressed them alike for many years and rejoiced, constantly, their twin-ship. (Chloe is the one sitting up in this photo)

No one but Chris can know if or how much his being a twin influenced his body/identity dysphoria. I have to believe it might have played a part. I, also, might have played a part (likely so). It wasn't until college that Chris realized his feelings about himself were feelings others shared about their selves and that the answer to his uneasiness/unhappiness with his image, his body, his identity, his gender was to change it. 


Chloe is on the right in this photo. The one with the serious face. The one with her arms crossed. I always saw her expression as sort of defiant in this picture, while she was never a defiant child. Maybe she often refused to smile because she couldn't always call on a smile easily. That's true of some people. I don't know, but I wish I did. I hope it was just that she was more serious than Courtney (which was and is still mostly the case). I hope it's not that she was sad.





While you can not see Chloe's eyes in this photo from when she was about 18 or 19, I think she looks very much the same as she did in the first photo I posted (in the angel outfit). She doesn't so much look sad, as she looks lost, and as I write this it brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart ache. I've looked at this photo many times over the years and always loved it - her hair, her sunglasses, all the bracelets she wore on her wrist. Until today, I really never realized that in this one photo I might have captured her wandering.












When Chloe was in high school she drew this self portrait of herself behind bars. I don't know exactly what the portrait was meant to portray, but if there was ever a photo that depicts how I think Chloe might have viewed her life in her late teen years and then early college years, this would be it. And, again, there is no smile. 















People often say that Chris has the most beautiful, contagious and brilliant smile, and it's true. And it's a smile that fills a room, now. A smile glowing from his whole body. A smile that shines in his eyes.

Maybe ... all Chloe was doing her whole life was saving her smiles for when she was truly happy. Maybe Chloe was saving her smiles for Chris ...








So Many Gorgeous Butterflies

In a discussion recently with my daughter, Courtney, she said something to the affect, "All embryos are female to start with, and that means if there were no men, through cloning technology and such we could create them. (Or not)." I don't really know how "real" this armature scientific theory is, but Courtney is pretty dang smart, so I'm convinced. I do know that even if one is born male or female, they can pretty easily and comfortably change their gender.


While in Orlando this past week, my mother said to me, something like, "I wonder sometimes. I see people looking at Kaleb and Chris, and I wonder what they are thinking. Do they see them as men or are they confused? I see people looking. And when I'm walking with Chris and he has his arm around me, or something, I wonder what people think of me, like do they think 'She's a good grandmother, she's very tolerant, she must be very progressive.'" I told her ... "Most people do not realize they are trans, and that is primarily, not only because they both look completely masculine and male, but also because most people are unfamiliar and/or have never even encountered trans people in their lives, and, therefore, their first thoughts when seeing Chris or Kaleb is likely not thoughts of confusion, but an attraction to their beauty, just like with all handsome men." And then I told her, "They probably also see the tattoos, gauges, piercings, and maybe question that, but with regards to you, people are probably just thinking, 'Aren't they adorable.'"

On this same trip to Orlando, we were able to see my aunt and uncle (on the mother's side). My aunt, who is a bit younger than my mother, but in her late 70s said to me, "I don't mean to sound disrespectful or rude, but I want to tell you something about Chris." I was very curious, of course, as discussion with my relatives about Chris is rare (as we live in different states and rarely talk or see each other). I said, "Well, tell me." She smiled and said, "I just think he's a doll. He is too pretty to be a man." I told her that is not disrespectful at all and I agree, and many people would also agree.

Chris and Kaleb started out as female and through testosterone and surgery they are now male. Their faces and bodies have changed and being male is their present, desired and required (gender) identity. How the world perceives them (and all people) is based on how they look, but with Chris, I know that his desire and need to change his gender was and is based on how he perceives his self, how he needs to feel about himself and how he has reached a greater love for himself.

I am around many transgender individuals and very often not aware who is trans and who is not. There are men who transition to women and women who transition to men. These are not concepts my mother's generation experienced or conceived when they were growing up in the 30's and 40's, and are not concepts many of them deal with in their lives today. Many from her generation are "appalled" and even "disgusted" and not at all accepting. This is also true of my generation. It has taken my children's generation (and many of us parents of these children) to teach the world that gender identity is serious, real, progressive, fluid and not scary. It has taken my children's generation to take this very important issue into their own hands and push for changes necessary for their own survival, regardless of judgement or attempts of restrictions by others.

If people look at Chris and Kaleb and all they truly see is their beauty, their vibrant personalities, their joy, as I believe is the case, then they are two examples of how successfully, harmlessly and positively trans people manage and affect the world. If, like in my mother's case, people see her with Chris and are questioning her tolerance (as a grandmother, as an older women), then that is okay, as her support and love for Chris is evident, and a witness to those who watch, those who are maybe confused, those who judge ... that unconditional love is a strong medicine. I honestly, think she hopes people "question" Chris's identity, as I think my mother has reached the point, like so many do, of simply being proud to be on the side of these people that are changing their lives, be on the side of tolerance, be on the side of Chris and Kaleb and ALL trans people that deserve to have people on their side.

Honestly, I don't know if the world needs more men, but one thing I do know is that those coming out in the trans community have the potential to dramatically change the world. And if they are all gorgeous butterflies while doing that, then who can have issue with that?






Friday, June 7, 2019

I Guess You Could Say I Crawled Out



Is there a "coming out" for parents of LGBTQ+ children? I certainly believe so.

As a mother to a lesbian daughter and a transgender son, I thought I'd write a "coming out" post for Pride Month. I read Chris' "coming out" post on his blog today and realized how differently we remember some of his and his twin sister's (Courtney) history where I am concerned.

Most of how Chris recalls the events of his coming(s) out are as I similarly recall them, while his perception may be and logically is sometimes different than my own perception. Maybe my recollection is distorted some, because I have come so very far from those days of their teens and early college years, their years in New York, when they first came out as lesbians, and then, later, Chris came out as transgender. I haven't forgotten the way I felt or even reacted, I haven't forgotten the months I struggled to come to terms, I haven't forgotten how difficult some of it seemed at the time. I haven't forgotten the sadness I inflicted on myself, but I have forgotten the pain.  And there was pain.

You can't be a mother and not make a thousand mistakes with regard to your children. You can not be a mother and not have thousands of regrets. I watched my youngest daughter graduate from high school last night and as she walked the stage, graduating Cum Laude and achieving so very much academically and personally, my thoughts were, "I should have pushed her harder. All of this she has mostly done on her own. What would she have achieved if I had pushed her harder?" Ironically, she sat in my room with me today and made this same point ... "I wish you had pushed me harder," she said out of the blue. I regret that I did not. I told her that I felt we had pushed her siblings too hard and, therefore, subconsciously, I think that is why we didn't push her. I told her it was also probably because she is our fourth child and we have become lazy, to some degree. I told her that I thought this same thing when I watched her walk the stage and that if I had to do it over again, I would have pushed her harder, because she did not feel the need to strive toward some defined level of "expectations" her father and I should have clearly defined for her - to not just succeed, but demand excellence by meeting her fullest potential. If we had pushed her, if she had felt "expectations" beyond "incredible", likely she would have exceeded her own expectations, as well as any more we might have set for her. I believe she has done wonderfully without extraordinary help from her parents, and for that she should be so proud and we are very proud of her.

When Chloe told me she was a lesbian at age 18. Chris' recollection is that I cried, and I remember crying. I remember we were talking on the deck outside of my bedroom. I remember saying things about my beliefs at the time with regard to God. I remember not really being all that surprised, as I had always suspected she was gay, but he says it took me a while to adjust, that I said hurtful things, that I was resistant to telling people. I don't recall, honestly, some of this, but I don't deny it. I wanted to control my children's lives, as most parents do, until they realize that is impossible and unfair, until their children no longer allow it. I had no one, no friends that had daughters who were lesbian or sons who were gay. I had no family that were gay. I had no experience with how to deal with having a gay child. And then, a few weeks later when Courtney came out as lesbian, too, I guess that made things easier, and harder, in some ways. I had no experience with how to know how to be the mother to twins who were gay. It's easy to say, "I did the best I knew how to do." Sometimes that is just true.

We were in Vegas for Courtney and Chris' 21st Birthday when Chris first said to me he was having thoughts of transitioning. I don't know if he remembers me saying it or not, but after a brief discussion in our hotel room about this, I said to him, "No matter what, I will always love you." He says we didn't discuss this anymore for a couple of years, and that's true, but when he was in New York living, and going through a lot of stuff, I talked often to Courtney, as she was the closest to him and would tell me how he was doing, where he was at with thoughts of transitioning. He says that I suggested he should begin therapy before making any decisions, that I would "support a move toward physical transition" if he went to therapy. I remember him calling me and telling me he thought therapy would help and I offered to help find a therapist. I spent days on the internet researching therapists in New York City, compiled a list, made calls and gave him options that he eventually visited, interviewed and ultimately chose one he was comfortable with. In my search for a therapist, I specifically tried to find one that had experience with LGBTQ+. I had only hopes that any therapist Chris chose would help him with any issues he was experiencing - NOT a therapist that would or could in any way "change his mind". I was never involved in his therapy past the point of helping him find a therapist he could talk to about whatever he wanted - and from what he told me at the time, he did go to her for several months and he always indicated she was very helpful. I often wondered how much I, his mother, came up in his discussions with her - maybe never. Maybe a lot. I specifically remember, during this time, being worried, but not so much worried that Chris would transition, as much as I was simply worried if he was happy.

It would be by way of a letter at Christmas time that same year (2014), that Chris wrote to me and his father that he was transgender, would soon begin testosterone and requested that we begin calling him by Chris (not Chloe) and use male pronouns.

Maybe it was because he wrote a letter, left it behind (on my desk) after his Christmas visit (he flew back to NY), maybe it's because I had ALL the information in writing, words I could read over and over again, maybe that is why I did not respond quickly. I don't remember how long it was, exactly, before I responded, but it was a while. I know why he wrote a letter, as opposed to talking -- it was because it was Christmas, and even Courtney had suggested not saying anything, but maybe just write a letter and leave it. I think Chris was afraid, too. I think I must have made Chris afraid to just talk to me - to our family. But ... I've often thought that if we had talked, things for me might have been different. Because I didn't see his face, his eyes, or hear the words from his mouth and his heart, I only had the words on a page and a child that got on a plane, left and lived so far away, to tell me how his life was about to change. It took me nearly 8 months to crawl out from beneath all those words to accept that he was making the only choice he could make for his life (read my blog posts on this blog from the beginning to get an idea of where I was emotionally). It took me so many months to lay down my life for his. It would take many more months, years to reach the days I'm at now where all the reservations and fears I had in the beginning have faded and been replaced with peaceful thoughts and happiness for Chris.

As for Courtney being a lesbian, well, that was really the least of my worries after finding out (first) that Chloe was a lesbian and then Chris came out as transgender. Courtney's lucky, I guess, as she was sort of able to just be. When they were both "just" lesbians and both dating girls, I believe I adjusted quickly and accepted their girlfriends into our family and into our lives. I have done that with all of their relationships, and have immensely enjoyed including and getting to know their partners. When Chris began transitioning, it was Courtney (and Caitlyn Jenner, honestly) that pushed me to move on, get on board with Chris and his life, or I was going to lose him, and Courtney, as well. It was not the true fear or threat of losing both of them that finally pushed me to become more supportive and less resistant, while that was certainly a driving factor (thanks to many forceful discussions with Courtney). It was also an interview I saw Caitlyn Jenner give, wherein she said something about how she had lived her whole life hiding Caitlyn away and she finally reached the point where it was time to free her. I began to see Chloe and Chris exactly that way. I began to see Chloe as the person that brought Chris through so much, toward the person he was meant to be and it was her presence in my life, her memories and her strength that helped me, also, to set Chris free.

I regret anything I did that ever harmed Chris or Courtney (or any of my children). Honestly, I do. There are many things in your life you look back on and think you would do over if you had the chance, and I have many things. It's hard to know what one discussion or what one day you might have done or said something that negatively impacted someone else's life in a way you never were aware. I think my children have always depended on me for guidance and support and I have not always been there as I should have been and maybe done or said things that hurt them to the core. I need them all to know that if I could take those words, days, harmful moments away, I would in a second, as it was never my intention.

This blog was started as a way to sort of document my journey with Chris, his journey transitioning, some of my journey as a mother of a transgender child. There's been times over the years when Chris and my other children have felt I wasn't there for them, and it is true, unfortunately. However, every word, all the thousands of words I have written on this blog are primarily for Chris, about him, about me and him. I have lived 58 years with only a few love letters given to me, only a few notes written to me by my parents. I suggest and know that the posts I have written here on this blog are so many love letters to Chloe, so many love letters to Chris. Few children will know so many words written for and about them. My other 3 children have some love letters I wrote for and about them on another blog I used to have for several years called "On The Upside", and fortunately I printed all of those posts and have them saved in 4 large binders, but ... this blog is Chris'. All of these thousands of words I give to him.


Ultimately, my hope is that Chris will be able to crawl out from beneath all of my words I've put to paper, erase hurtful things I've said or done and truly know I've tried my hardest to do my best by him, and know how much I've truly loved him. I hope all of my children know how much I've loved them. Maybe Chris knows. Maybe they all know. It has not always been easy being the mother to my children. It's not easy being a mother, period. I'm just grateful mine are all flourishing and extremely proud that they are all mine.

It took Chris and Courtney many years to fully come out as lesbian and transgender. Me, maybe I took too long, maybe I crawled out. I'm not proud of that, but I'm out now with them. Completely and proudly out with them now.






Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Surviving Gracefully

My family and I may not lead or live our lives the way some people would deem as "Christian", but I don't know many other families that touch so many lives the way my family does, in so many positive, generous and loving ways. We are judged by people every single day; I am judged constantly - it only makes us stronger in our convictions, stronger as a family whose only goal is to live honestly, be true to others and live peaceful and happy lives. We are nowhere near perfect, but we are strong together.

Someone said the other day that it's strange how all of my kids and our family are so touchy and hug everyone so openly. I told them I wasn't necessarily raised that way, but that is how raised my children and I am proud they are lovable and loved because they are so giving.

Many people strive to be closer to God; I believe God keeps me right by His side; I always have. I believe that much about our lives is merely a test of surviving gracefully. I believe that the God I believe in would not have designed a world where life was meant to be easy - where is the test in that? Many "Christians" would suggest that the goal in life is to live on a straight path and this is maybe why so many resist and create controversy. I think the test of surviving gracefully is being willing to often veer from the straight path, because it's often on those winding roads where you find the extraordinary people, experiences and answers that enrich your life. It's often easier to alienate, more difficult to include or involve yourself in people or things you don't understand or make you uncomfortable. I don't need to go to church to be close to God or have anyone tell me how to live my life. I believe I'm living the life God expected of me. I believe I'm one of the ones He was counting on to choose a winding path, as He knew I'd follow or lead my children there.

My one daughter is a lesbian. My son is transgender. My other son is a bit of a rebel. My youngest daughter is still finding herself, but spent some time learning and experiencing Islam. Some of my kids have tattoos, gauges, piercings, dreads. Each of these children have been "worrisome" to some in my family and "worrisome" to many in the world, but I see and know each of these children to be an example of human beings surviving gracefully. Each of these children know and practice tolerance. Each of these children are loving, kind, generous, intelligent, driven, defiant, strong, beautiful. Each of these children are strong-willed, outgoing, reliant and resilient. Each of these children demand to be known as "extraordinary". I believe ALL people are extraordinary, but there are certainly those, given the opportunity, that will and can change your life. Unfortunately, many of the most extraordinary people live away from a straight path and can only be found if you go there ...

I become offended by anyone who tries to define my children's lives or my life as anything other than divine. This is not to suggest that our lives are easy or ideal or perfect, just to suggest that I believe God veers from the straight path to walk beside me, my children, my family and everyone on the winding roads, as well. Maybe He spends most of His time there. It isn't necessarily those living a "safe" life that need Him most. It isn't those standing in judgement He condones. Maybe He dwells on the winding paths most because that's where He views His creation at it's finest.

I know what some people think, "Maybe if you'd raised your children differently, they'd be normal." I've had people blame me for how my kids turned out. It's true - my children are a product of their environment, a reflection of their father and I in many ways, and, apparently, in the raising of our children we taught them to embrace diversity, and for that I am proud. I will totally take the blame for how my children have turned out, for I think they are navigating a difficult world like four eagles powerfully in flight.

I once had a discussion with someone about interracial relationships - back when that was such a "controversy" (not that it still isn't). I said, "The true test, I believe, that God would offer in creating so many different races, would not be how to successfully and peacefully keep them apart, but how to unite them." This is just logical. But do I believe God meant for races to mix? Yes. Uniting an entire world would be an extraordinary accomplishment of the human race. Keeping races divided isn't and hasn't been easy, either, but the word "divide" (definition: separated or separate into parts) , its self, defines a process of alienation. Would God create a world where He imagined His people divided? If so, why not just create such a profound world to begin with? Why offer Man choice? Some people would say that Man's choice should be the way God made us - divided races from the beginning; separate. Maybe that is so, but I believe He could have just as easily made all of Man the same race from the beginning and then, therefore, there would have been no problem, but by creating different races, He presented potential conflict, presented choice, presented the challenge.

I once had the belief that God intended men to be with women because we were created that way (Adam and Eve, and all. Most of the animal species, etc.). I now believe that it doesn't matter who anyone loves. Because ... like the races, I believe the test on humanity is not conformity to some assumed ideal, but tolerance and acceptance of the extraordinary, and so it would be logical that the most difficult journey is the true test, as "ordinary" is most often comfortable and/or accepted. If He had truly intended one kind of love or sexual experience, He would not have offered the gift of choice. I do not believe human lives are or were meant to be lived without challenge, choice or controversy. I believe the test is to survive peacefully and gracefully and, unfortunately, that comes down to one person's definition of right and wrong from another's, and then somehow meeting in the middle with some compromise.

All I can do in my life is depend on my own definition of right or wrong. All I can do is take responsibility of my own choices. Some choices I definitely got wrong and tremendously regret. How I have raised my children is not one of them ...

Monday, June 3, 2019

Lines


I was reminded this last weekend of a story the twins often find great joy in telling. They claim that when they were both around five-years-old that they were drawing pictures of dogs. One drew her feet of the dog with rounded paws and the other drew her dog's paws pointy. They say I quickly drew attention to Courtney's dog, saying, "That is not how a dog's feet look," and then, after much discussion about who was right or wrong, I gathered them up, took them outside to inspect our dog's feet. And then ... we came back inside and I made Courtney re-draw her dog's pointy feet to more accurately aesthetic paws.


I attest that this episode with my five-year-old twins was nothing more than a teaching moment, while they recount it as a humorous, yet traumatic experience - haha! They also adamantly claim that I would never allow them to draw stick people.

Both went on to become amazing artists, while Courtney was the one whose art was more true-to-life and Chris's was more abstract. If you look at these dogs, while they are pretty similar and not necessarily Picasso-like, Courtney might should have been the more abstract artist and Chris the more true-to-life, yet, they switched rolls in life. Maybe it was this one lesson from their mother that caused each of them to defy how their lines should be drawn.

I'm okay with that. It was probably at this very time when I lost control of them. They were always very easy children, yet they never allowed me to forget they each had their own minds, their own beliefs, their own voice and their own perceptions of life.

Beyond the point where I attempted to teach my kids "norms", I eventually encouraged and supported each of them to venture, explore and even live outside the lines. I've been a mother that has ventured inside and outside of societal boundaries my entire life. I have children that mostly defy many "norms". 

Being the mother to 4 rather "extreme" children, I have learned that living outside the lines or watching them valiantly redefining lines, has lead to journeys on sometimes frightening, yet extraordinary paths. Being the mother to a trans child has been Picasso-like. I'm not always sure of what I'm seeing or feeling, but once I chose to be included on this path, I was enveloped by the beauty, taken on an extraordinary journey.

Looking back on that lesson I tried to teach the twins when they were five-years-old, I now know I was wrong. One of Picasso's most famous dog drawings shows not pointy or round feet, but somewhere in between. The lesson I maybe should have taught was ... there's no right or wrong, there's only lines, lines that will most definitely be yours to draw, because it will be those lines that define your life. Fortunately, they learned this lesson with or without me ...