Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Chris's Scream

On August 18, 2015, I started this blog as a way to document the journey I am taking with my transgender son, Chris Rhodes.  That was over two years ago.  That was back near the beginning of this journey when things were far different than they are now.  That was back when I couldn't see what the future would hold - how things would evolve - how I could ever imagine getting from that place to this place without a thousand more tears or a tangle of fears that controlled so many of my thoughts.  Back when I couldn't imagine getting from that place to this place lugging around and cradling so many of my shattered dreams.

I've walked thousands of steps since those early days.  Chris has walked many steps in front of me, many steps without me. We've come together and we've also been torn apart.  We battled, at times, and other times we surrendered to each other.  Through it all, I never let Chris out of my sight, I never ran and I have stayed close, even if, sometimes, my eyes were closed or I refused to listen.  Above and beyond this, Chris never let me go, never pushed me away, even when it probably would have made his life much easier.  And ... he never allowed me to control his dream.

I've often thought, over the years, since having children, that raising them into the world is not just a test toward ensuring their survival, but also a test toward defining ours as parents, as human beings.  A child will most often survive in spite of their parents.  They will ultimately define their own worth.  They will pave their own path.  They will defiantly survive.  Regardless.

My children have tested me on so many levels and survived, brilliantly, in spite of me.  You think you know who you are and WHAT you believe, but nothing and no one will test you and your ideas more than your own child, because just about the time you believe you've created that mirror image of yourself you have tediously tried years to replicate ... they look at you with a face that is not like you at all, counter you with ideas far more powerful, even more convincing to you than your own.  They stand in front of you strong, convicted, different.  As a parent, you spend hours and days and years trying to get your children to conform to your rules, your agendas, your beliefs, because you have only your own life and experiences to guide them by and believe if they follow you they will survive.  But ... a parent should also try to impress on their children to rock conformity, to refuse it, to defy it, to fly when others are walking, to scream when silence is deafening, to stray when lines are formed toward incompetence or boredom or rigid ideas that offer no extraordinary future, no extraordinary life.

Like my other three children, Chris has kept me close, but always makes sure I know that he is going to scream when the silence is deafening, he is always going to fly even if others are walking, he is always going to stray when lines formed are leading toward incompetence, boredom or offer ideas that do not lead him, or anyone, toward an extraordinary future, an extraordinary life.  He's kept me close and embraced those parts of me that compliment his ideas and place in this world, and because he veered far from the path I once believed his life should have taken, he's helped me see that I succeeded in helping him know when and how to take possession of his life.  He's also helped me redefine my own identity.  I am not just his mother or the woman that birthed a baby girl I named Chloe, as I once clung to.  I am now the person that has come to understand that a person's identity is ONLY linked to others or other things when THEY allow it - otherwise, it is personal, always, and it is never negotiable.  And it most certainly should not be driven by others ideas or dreams.

I no longer worry about Chris the way I did a few years ago, and not because I somehow succeeded in helping him to survive on this journey he is on, or survive, at all, really.  I no longer worry because, through this journey, through Chris (and my other kids) I came to appreciate and love the idea that he is not a reflection of me, but his own complete and utter identity.  And that identity is strong now because of the changes he's making in his life, in his appearance, in the vision he is creating, discovering, offering to the world.

Chris is one of my very best friends and favorite people.  Partly, I guess it's because he's my child and I'm his mother, but beyond that ... there are few people on this Earth I'd rather spend time with, listen to, hear laugh.  I honestly believe, now, that if Chris had gone on in his life as Chloe because he was afraid or did not know how to change this thing about himself that felt so wrong, that was wrong, I honestly believe the silence from such sadness would be deafening, the path would be leading him toward the wrong life, the wrong un-extraordinary life.  I know that now.  I'm proud I taught this child to scream ...

Sunday, January 8, 2017

It's Was a Beginning ...

I did it.  I traveled to Plano, Texas with Chris for his top surgery.

It wasn't so hard.

It was not the end of anything as I might have thought a year ago.  Actually, it was a beginning.

I was calm.

At ease.

It was meant to be, somehow.

A "meant to be" beyond anything I had ever reasoned, but a "meant to be" for Chris and, therefore, a "meant to be" for me.

He's changing his life in spite of me.  In spite of everybody who tried to define who they think he is suppose to be.  He is changing his life and I ...

was there

to witness

my child

changing and taking complete


of his life.

Somewhere in all of this ...

I give myself credit

For helping give this child courage ...

To change his life

from uncertainty

from sadness

to happiness ...

Somewhere in all of this I have to believe

I am a part

of what makes this child


Friday, December 30, 2016

Her Head Was Bowed

It was a couple of days ago.  I had a moment of sheer panic.  I kept telling myself I couldn't do it - I couldn't be there when Chris has his surgery - I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that it was finally going to happen.  I know how excited, and nervous, Chris is, but I am also nervous.  I feel confident with the surgeon he has chosen, as I believe Chris has done his research about this doctor, and I believe the surgery will go well; it's not that.  And in so many ways I am so happy for Chris to finally be at the point where he is changing this thing about himself that is a great source of his dysphoria.  I am confident Chris is making the right choice for him and his life.  I was just scared for me.

When I was panicked I reminded myself of the fact that this surgery, this event that is so very important in Chris's life, would also be an event to represent hope and promise of a New Year.  2016 has been a very difficult and trying year for me and our family.  Because I believe Chris needs this surgery to secure his happiness, I have to believe it is meant to be and because it will occur next week, at the very beginning of 2017, I have to believe it is not only an event that will positively change Chris's life but will also positively change mine.

Over Thanksgiving and then again over Christmas we watched old videos of when the kids were younger.  Maybe it was seeing Chris as a baby, as a little girl, that forced my mind to ponder feelings I have been trying very hard to dismiss or leave behind.  When we watched the videos we laughed a lot and I did not find myself sad or mourning, but I have to imagine that it must have been seeing those images of Chris as Chloe that triggered emotions I believed I had concurred.

I am supportive of Chris and want and need to be there for his surgery.  I am not sad and I am not panicked, now.  I think I have to forgive myself for this moment of wonder, this moment of fear, this moment of worry.  I'm strong and caring, but there is a part of me that holds on to the past so tightly that I'm not sure if anything will ever truly sever that grip, even though I have done my very best to let go of what I thought would be, of what I knew to be, of what I wanted.

I said earlier that I was scared for me.  So much of this journey has illuminated the fears I have had for myself.  Fears that, in the very early months, crippled me.  I spent a long time reconciling those fears, and I did the same with this fear a few days ago.  I tried to determine what exactly I was so panicked about.  Was it the realization that, in some ways, I had been dwelling in denial?  I think it was.  This thing is really so big that in order to sometimes deal with it I believe I have built a wall that protects me from the impact certain stages of this journey might or could potentially emotionally cripple me, again.  I think I have certainly become accepting and supportive, truly, but I also think that I am still afraid.

I do not write this post to cast doubt or question anything.  I simply write it to document the reality of a moment in this journey.  A moment when I, the mother of this child, came face to face with the past and the present, with memories and with reality, with me and with him, again.

Alexis painted Chris a picture for Christmas.  It was a portrait of Chris face to face with Chloe and he was kissing her forehead.   Chloe had her hands over her eyes.  Chris was strong in the painting and Chloe was smaller, not sad, but her head was bowed, maybe in reverence.  Because Chris will have his surgery next week, I interpreted the painting as Chris saying good-bye to Chloe, but I think I was wrong; Chloe isn't going anywhere.  I think Alexis is wiser than me and far more perceptive.  I began to think that the painting was Chris thanking Chloe with the kiss.  I think the painting was a gift for Chris but also gifted me, as I am able to appreciate, through Alexis' eyes and through Chris's life what was really meant to be ... even if it often frightens me.

I have very often bowed my own head.  In prayer.  In tears.  In solitude.  I stand firmly by Chloe now ... bowing my head in reverence to Chris ...

Saturday, December 17, 2016

God, Take Me To Him ...

How can you be a mother of a child who is going to have top surgery in less than three weeks and never have talked to that child about their surgery?

I am that mother.

I am a good mother.

I am a mother that is supportive of this child, but somewhere in the scheme of all that is going on with this child's life, I have neglected to find the time, or courage, or words to sit and discuss this life changing event with him. I am a mother who has not yet had any sort of discussion with this child about this thing that is so important in his life, and so important in my life.

How is this possible?  When I am so close to this child and he is so close to me.  Where in the closeness that we meet is that moment when we failed to find each other?

I don't know how to talk about this thing.



Tell me how to to talk about this with you.  Please.

Maybe it is not up to me to find the words.  Maybe it is up to him.


Take me to him ...


Forgive me ...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

So Many Damn Wrongs ...

It's night again and so I think.

Too much.

About things I need to save and things I need to get rid of.

About what I did and what I did not do.

About what needs done.

About saving and losing.

So much about saving and losing, lately.

I write some of the words down ... maybe so they will leave me, but then I read them and there they are again ...

with me

saved forever

not in thoughts

but in words


so I write more ...

I've written a million words

and not nearly enough

to rid thoughts
to save my mind
for anything, really

other than ramblings of a mind that seldom settles

a mind that wakes at night

pondering always what to save and what to get rid of

I walked by a bathroom at Target today
I wondered who was allowed in and who was not
Then I remembered
Everyone is allowed in

Tonight I ponder what to do if Texas passes laws, as it suggests it will, that will harm people
Laws of unfairness
Laws dividing so many people
Laws I fear will harm my child
What will I do?

I think it is good I write so many words
I will write someone
Maybe everyone
About what and who needs to be saved and what needs to be rid of

Maybe my words will be heard, maybe not
but ...
I will write them
until I am heard

It's a ridiculous fight - this fight over bathrooms
but my child has rights
and if others insist on attempting to trample the rights of my child and those like him
then I will stand by him
on the right side
of this harmful battle
that refuses him his freedom.

I never knew I would find myself fighting so many damn wrongs in this world.  I never knew I was bringing my children into a world filled with so much hatred ...


Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Damn Darkness

It's at night, like this, when I think.  When I wonder.  When I realize.

When sadness finds me.

I don't want sadness to ever find me or anyone I love, but it does, especially in the darkness of the night.

It creeps.

It slides.

It is like a bug that walks quietly, silently along the baseboard of a room and then slowly begins to climb the wall.

Black and big.  So many legs.

And you see it.

It jolts you.

The bug.

The sadness.

And then you run and search for a shoe.

And you smash it.

The black bug.

The sadness.

I'm sorry, Chris.

You are not the bug or the sadness, but you are that part of me that creeps in the darkness ...


That part of me ...

that wonders

That tiny part of me

that lingers

in the damn darkness ...

I want and wish only for your light

I fight for your light ...

I fight the bugs and myself and all darkness so all I see

is your light

Know this

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

They're MY People, Too

Through my journey with Chris, and through the community he is a part of and I am now a part of, I have had the privilege to meet many LGBTQ+ individuals over the past several years.

The other day, Chris and Courtney traveled from Austin to San Antonio to visit a good friend of theirs who had top-surgery.  Their friend was only 2 days post-op, but felt good and so Chris and Courtney took her to lunch.  They called and invited me to join them.

I talked to their friend a bit about her surgery, interested to know what she had had done and how she was doing, and she explained that she had her breast tissue removed and a bit of reconstruction.  She showed me before and after photos and she looked amazing.  What is and was interesting about all of this, to me, in addition to being able to talk, first hand, to an individual who had undergone top surgery, is that this individual still uses female pronouns and yet she had her breasts removed and is clearly on a journey - maybe gender fluid, maybe transgender - I'm not sure, exactly, but I support her decision to make changes to her body that make her feel more comfortable in her own skin.

I have learned a lot of things about LGBTQ+ people and their community, but there are so many things I have not learned or do not yet understand, and I am one of those people that is involved in it, to some degree.  The ability for those who are not intimately involved, to understand, must be quite difficult and even strange, I imagine.  It was all difficult and strange to me not too long ago.

I've heard people tell Chris that he's lucky to have the support of his family and friends, as so many transgender individuals travel his same sort of journey with far less support, if any.  I was proud of Chris and Courtney for visiting their friend, for supporting this individual, and I was proud they included me at lunch.  And I'm happy I was able to meet their friend and be considered one of the people that recognizes and supports her progress on her journey of becoming more of who she needs and is meant to be.  I'm also glad to say that her parents were with her for the surgery and she seems to be further along on her way to successfully transitioning.  I'm not exactly clear on where her journey is leading her, but it is not for me to question or even understand.  I feel my place in her journey is at Chris and Courtney's side when they want me there, as her friend, as her advocate, as her people.  Everyone deserves to have people on their side and beside them.

I never knew when we started this journey with Chris (and Courtney) that it would lead to them introducing so many of their people into my life (gay, lesbian, transgender, etc.), but they have, and I am lucky.  My life is so much richer knowing they are now my people, too ...