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Thursday, October 30, 2014

While Other Girls Were Princesses, I was the Hulk.

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a little boy.  I mean desperately.  For my first Halloween I dressed as Darth Vader, my second, I dressed as the Hulk.  It wasn't until I was eighteen when I dressed like Scary Spice from the Spice Girls that I dressed like someone of my own gender.

My mom told me that when I was six years old I threw a penny in a fountain and made a wish. Later that day when I came out of the bathroom crying she asked why. I said it was because I wished for a penis and I didn't get one. 

I'm sure some people may have thought that it was the influence of my older brother.  We were close then and are close now, but I also have an older sister who could have influenced me.  I didn't want to be Nathan; I just wanted to be his little brother.  As soon as I had a choice in my hairstyle I wore it short.  I hated dresses.  I wore Spiderman Underoos and peed standing up.

I tried out for the football team in 5th grade and was devastated when I was told that girls couldn't play. When people thought I was a boy it made me happy.  My parents didn't discourage it either.  

I didn't realize how progressive my parents were until I went through some of the photo albums my mom had archived from 1979-1984.  In the majority of the pictures I am in public and not wearing a shirt.  Nobody noticed because everyone thought I was a boy. To this day I still don't like wearing a shirt, but obviously I don't do it in public. 

I liked getting dirty, riding my bike and hanging out with the boys in the neighborhood.  And on numerous occasions I was the only girl invited to boy's birthday parties. 

 I have wondered what this would have meant if I were a child today.  Everything I did back then would have been considered transgender or at least consistent with gender identity disorder.   If my parents had chosen to give me this label I would have believed it and who knows where I would be today.

For the first 8 years of my life I wanted to be a boy. I identified myself as a boy. It seemed that the writing was on the wall.  Yet, my parents did something that many parents don't do today. 

They didn't do anything.  They didn't talk to our doctor.  They didn't freak out and turn to the Internet.  They didn't have nightmares about how their child was going to cope growing up as a transgender or a lesbian. They just let me be who I wanted to be.  

As I grew I started to like wearing dresses once in a while. I liked wearing my hair in braids so I wore it long.  My parents didn't take a sigh of relief.  They just let me be.

When I was thirteen the boys I used to hang around with suddenly became awkward in my presence.  By the time I started high school I looked like a young woman, and I was fine with it.  I began having crushes on the boys that I used to run shirtless through the woods with.   

Through it all my parents never influenced who I was suppose to be or who I was going to be. 

I grew into a woman who married a man and together have four sons.  Yesterday my oldest son asked me if he could take ballet.  Before I started Googleing my concerns about his sexuality, I just sat back and thought, just let it be.

Does it matter either way?  Children need to find their own way without their parents influencing their decisions.  Today we want to help and end up putting a label our kids early on. My child is transgender, my son is a jock, my daughter is a princess.   Why not just let them be themselves with out a label?

The only problem I face today is that I still prefer to be around men.  This has caused problems because women often think that I'm coming on to their husbands, then get mad at their husbands, and then I find myself at a party on the "girl side".  When really all I want is to return to a happy time when hanging out with the boys didn't have any connotations attached to it.  

As parents today,  we rush to label our children. In some cases the label may be correct, and in some it may not be.  But labels stick and before branding your child for life, just let them be.  

I'm grateful to have parents who didn't jump to conclusions to who they thought I was or should be.  They loved me enough to provide a solid foundation to let me discover who I was.  Whether it was a Hulk, a princess or both. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You are My Sunshine

Today was Grandparents day at the boy's school,  I mean my entire family's school.  It has been nice that Don has always been a teacher wherever they have gone.  It is a package deal.  So my parents not only get to see four of their grandsons, but also their son-in-law who is much more of a son than an in-law.

While this was going on I sat at my computer, listening to my co-workers talk endlessly about Renee Zellweger's new face while the people I love most are enjoyed baked goods together.  I texted all of them, called them, because I wanted to know ever single detail of their day. What did they do? What did they show you? Did you like it? Was it fun?  My mom responded with a single word "Terrific!" To this day she is the only person I know who uses that word.

As I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and listening to my Paul Simon playlist on Spotify,  Mother and Child Reunion came on.  Like a lot of Paul Simon songs,  I honestly don't know what it is really about.  It is cryptic I'm sure. It is probably about pot or something.  But at that very moment it made me miss my boys.

Within moments I saw that someone had posted on the school's private Facebook page. It was a video of the pre-school aged kids singing You are My Sunshine to their Grandparents. My heart swelled so much it hurt and the pressure of the swelling pushed out any tear that was being held on reserve for a moment like this.  I watched it about 400 times.  I could see my little Oscar singing the words perfectly and looking around for my parents.   I watched my son with a fly on the wall view point.  And he looked… old.  His clothes are too small, and his face is beginning to look more like a boy and less like a toddler. He looked perfect. A little too perfect for being without me.

They have grown up with a mama who works. They have never known any different. But all the worrying I have done about how they are coping without me is displayed on my computer screen and the truth is, they are doing just fine.

This morning I failed as a mom.  It's okay. Every mom fails. It makes us better moms and I have learned to fail really well.  When Fin told me that he wished he was an only child and that his brother's were never born, I responded with "be careful what you wish for". I know it is bad because if anything ever did happen to them he would feel responsible. Like I said, FAIL. This is on the heels of me not realizing my son broke his arm until 2 days after it happened. That fact has been deposited in the guilt bank and will resurface the next time I feel horrible about myself.   I hurried them out the door, so I could get to my work. Work that I could get to 10 minutes late and nobody would notice.

I never really stopped to look at the boys.  Until now, through a computer screen.

A friend of mine is a new mother and just returned to work after having a baby. She mentioned how hard it was.  I don't think it ever gets better.  Here I am, 11 years after the first time I left my son to go back to work and it feels just the same.  Not every day is like this, but I think every so often a mom's heart strings are pulled back to their child. Sometimes the strings squeeze harder than other days and today just happens to be one of those days that it hurts.

I can't speak for mother's of grown kids, but I have a hunch that these strings are constant and indestructible.  At least from a mother's perspective.

So when I get home, I will have the Mother and Child reunion that Paul Simon was singing about. Even if it isn't about a mom missing her 4 year old while she works and he happily goes along without her.

"I can't for the life of me remember a sadder day, I know they say let it be, but it just don't work that way. And the course of a lifetime runs over and over again. But the Mother and child reunion is only a motion away"