She is Back

Six years ago my then 18 year old daughter stood awkwardly in the doorway of the family room and uttered words that would change the course of our lives. Kerri said that she thought she was transgender and actually identified as a boy, not a girl like we thought.

If you had asked me back then where I thought we would be in six years, I would have probably done some quick math….. shocked to realize that my kids would be 27, 24 and 21. My youngest, Andrew, would be entering his last year of college! I wouldn’t be able to guess what Kerri would be doing but hopefully something in Anthropology, since that was her major entering her freshman year of college. And Michael, the oldest, would be full swing in his emergency services career, having completed his training.

I’m sure I would have felt a quick pang of panic, wondering where the time had gone and how had my kids gone and grown up on me! I know I would have gulped, unsure what my life looked like without the kids around for me to raise. Maybe I would be looking forward to an empty nest and some time to focus on myself.

But life has a funny way of taking twists and turns that you can’t anticipate and sometimes you find that you’ve wound up in a completely different place than you expected. Even more surprising is that this place holds a sense of familiarity despite all of the differences.

Last week, Kerri, now Kris, came home to prepare to leave for school. And because our time together is fleeting, I had to take advantage of the quiet time we had to touch base on where things stood regarding Kris and gender identity. If you’ve been with us on this journey, then you know that this is a valid question when it comes to Kris. And just to remind you, last time I checked in with Kris although they preferred they/them/their pronouns, their gender expression had been primarily feminine and they were not bothered when mistaken for a young woman. After confirming that they preferred that we (my husband, myself and the brothers) use they/them/their, when asked about grandparents or other unsuspecting folks using the wrong pronouns, Kris shrugged and said they did not care.

Mixed signals? Most definitely. But it was (and will always be) important to me that we are respecting Kris’s feelings and gender identity.

I opened the discussion by sharing a recent conversation Kris’s dad and I had with Kris’s grandparents regarding them being non-binary. As I described the blank looks on their faces (the grandparents’- not Kris’s) and lack of comprehension, their struggle to wrap their brains around this idea, I asked Kris (as I always have since the beginning), “What would you like us to do? We can keep trying to help them understand. And what do we do about pronouns? Should we work with them about using they/them their?”

I should clarify that all grandparents involved have always been fully supportive of Kris throughout this entire time. They accepted Kris- lock, stock and barrel- and we have never doubted their love for their grandchild for a single second.

After some thought, Kris shook their head and said, “No, it’s okay.”

Next I asked the question that I’ve only asked twice before (and it has only been twice because deep down, I already knew what the answer was). I asked which pronouns Kris wanted us (family) to use moving forward.

And for the first time in six years, I got the answer that had seemed so important at one time. Can you guess?

“She, her, hers.”

Back when it was all I wanted to hear, I imagined how I would feel if I could just use those pronouns again. But time goes on and priorities shift and perspective changes or maybe it just becomes more clear.

The truth is, I don’t feel anything like I thought I would. I’m afraid. And sad. And afraid again. And for the first time in six years, that’s all I feel. For the first time, I wasn’t feeling so many different emotions that they were difficult to sort out and identify. I spent years with piles of feelings that were a tangled mess and that glorious mess became familiar to me. I have shared some of my thoughts on this in posts- the most recent being- The Return of the Dress and Yesterday I Cried. 

I have yet to take the leap into using the new pronouns. I slipped once while talking to my friend, John, the other day. In the middle of a monologue, I referred to Kris as “she” and without missing a beat in the mid-sentence, I exclaimed, “Oh my god, I called Kris “she” and continued on.

My husband talked extensively about Kris when he arrived home from moving them into their apartment at school. He used “she, her, hers” the entire time. In my head, I was screaming, ‘Stop saying that! It’s too much! Too many shes!’

Today I’m having lunch with my best friend, Steph, who was the first person I texted when Kris gave me the answer to the pronoun question. Steph has been steadfast and committed throughout the years and her use of the preferred pronouns has been priceless. And today, at lunch with Steph, I’m going to switch. It’s going to be hard. I feel panicky at the thought of it. I’m scared. But I can do this!!!

As I look at my life now, I see that life is almost as I thought it would be, but different in an awesome way. Andrew is starting is senior year of college, as expected, and he has worked hard to reach this place. Kris took a detour for a few years but is also beginning senior year as an Anthropology major so we aren’t too far off track there. Michael has been working full-time in his chosen EMS carerr and he has a beautiful family with two boys, who have brought the joy and happiness of youth back into our lives. And me? For the time being, it appears that I’m needed in a few places so I will be learning how to take advantage of the time that I do have to focus on writing and “me” time.

Thank you for remaining part of this incredible journey!

-Kat

 

 

51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past: Week 32: Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

This week I am sharing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. The song was written in 1966, becoming a hit when it was released as a single by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. It would become a hit once again when Diana Ross sang it in 1970. Both versions are well known throughout the world.

Why does this song come to mind?

Back when my kids were young, I bought many workout videos, hoping to drop the “baby” weight. Having three kids five years apart in age, I did not have much time to actually use the videos much but when Hugh talked about favorite songs to work out to in his post for 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past    I was swept back in my own time machine and found myself somewhere in the 80’s in the middle of a Sweatin’ to the Oldies Workout Video with Richard Simmons, fitness guru. The first time I became aware of Richard Simmons was when he made a guest appearance on the daytime drama (soap opera)- General Hospital.  His energy and positive attitude were quite contagious and it wasn’t long before I was purchasing videos and attempting to sweat along with Richard. If you haven’t guessed, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough was one of the songs featured on his first video. If you aren’t familiar with Richard, I have a video here for you-

Did you ever try Sweatin’ with the Oldies with Richard Simmons? Or any other popular workout videos? If so, which ones?

Since most of my exercise these days includes a toddler and a smallish dog, I’m limited to chasing them or taking them for walks….. I’m off now to round up Ari and explore the neighborhood on an early morning walk. Maybe I should be dusting off those old VHS tapes instead?! Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Hugh!

-Kat

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Beginning with “Ap”

This week 2 year old Beej is sharing his favorite photos for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Words beginning with “Ap.”

apprentice
Uncle Andrew’s eager train track building apprentice
appliance
Favorite appliance zapping some signs
applesauce
“I love applesauce!”
apprehended
The rogue sippy cup has been apprehended! 

cee's fun foto badge

Thanks for stopping by!

-Kat and Beej

Live and Let Die

When Paul McCartney came to town, I was reminded of all the things I still wanted to do….. I guess some might call it a bucket list but I am feeling resistant to calling it that. I wish I could have seen the Beatles perform live. Time keeps passing and sadly, a day will come when none of the Beatles are alive so I had to seize this opportunity to at least see one of them while I still could.

I’m not a big concert goer but I was happy to brave the crowds just to have this chance. When one man in front of me proceeded to shove earplugs deep into his ears, I felt some apprehension and asked my husband how loud was it going to be. If I had given it some thought, I would have realized that- hey, it’s Paul McCartney- it’s not like people are going to be screaming and the music is going to be deafening loud. The audience was a beautiful mix of people all ages, shapes, colors and sizes. Some of the older crowd had actually seen the Beatles perform way back in the 60’s and I thought it was especially cool that 50 years later they were still able to see Paul perform. One woman waved a sign that said, “I was there 50 years ago and I’m here today. Still love you, Paul!”

Paul McCartney

When he started singing, the entire audience sang along with him. He was on the stage for over two hours without a break. His encore lasted another 20 minutes. In between sets, he would lean on his piano and share anecdotes with the audience. When he spoke, there was complete silence and you would be hard pressed to believe that the place was sold out to thousands. You could hear every word he said. He was charming and friendly and he poured his heart into songs that he has sang thousands and thousands of times. I swayed and bopped and sang along- savoring every single moment along with everyone else.

 

The icing on the cake was when he sang “Live and Let Die”- which was spectacular. I wasn’t able to take pictures or record the song because I was either surrounded by giants or I’m shrinking….. either way, I was unable to see anything during this song. I did find a video that someone else posted from another of his concerts.

live and let die list 1This experience inspired me to work on my “—” list and in honor of the concert and the song that motivated me to jump back in and stop letting life pass me by, I’ve decided to call it my- “Live and Let Die List.” I realized that there is so much that I still want to do in my lifetime and lately I’ve been pushing those things into the background…waiting for a better time. Well, time isn’t going to stand still and wait for me to catch up so it’s up to me and start living!

Do you have a bucket (or comparable) list? What have you crossed off your list lately? I can’t wait to hear what types of things other people have on their lists!

-Kat

 

 

 

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Take a New Photo

For Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge  we were asked to take a new photo or use any topic for our photos. I decided to use photos from an outing I took with the little guys a few months ago. I had forgotten about these pictures and it seemed like the perfect time to use them. We went to discover a nature center nearby and both boys really enjoyed the trails, lake and waterfalls.

bw dandelion and fuzz
Dandelions in various stages
bw CJ waterfall
CJ checking out the waterfall and ducks
bw water
Lots of lily pads!
bw waterfall
Waterfall

black-white-banner

Thank you for stopping in! Hope your week is off to a great start!

-Kat

On the Road

I took my youngest, Andrew, back to school this weekend. This was my first time dropping him off by myself. Somehow, three years later, this just doesn’t get any easier. When my husband and I made that drive his freshman year, I recall battling with so many conflicting feelings. The entire time we were helping him unpack and set up his dorm room I pushed down the rising panic that I was feeling at the thought of leaving my “baby” behind and so far away- a 9 hour car ride.

When the time came for goodbyes, my husband pulled a fast one on us and announced we were leaving- without warning. We were standing in the lobby of the student living center. It was bustling with freshmen and their families and the chaos involved in moving your child in for the first time. I looked at my husband in shock and squeaked out, “Right now?” I remember him not quite meeting my eye as he nodded, quite curtly.

I scarcely got a hug and an “I love you” in before my husband placed a firm arm around me and started walking me away. I remember turning back to look at Andrew and much to my dismay, he was standing there looking at us….walking away. He looked so young and scared. I felt like the worst mother in the world. I cried all the way to the car. It all turned out fine. Andrew survived. My husband probably did the right thing by rushing me out.

But this time it was just Andy and me, sitting in the car, saying our goodbyes. I was feeling that familiar panic at leaving him, this time sharing a house (along with all of those responsibilities) with three friends and no dining plan to provide him with meals- no matter how crappy he might think they were. As we sat there, I didn’t think that I had not prepared him for this. I knew it. We had an awkward goodbye hug in the car in front of his house. I couldn’t justify making him get out of the car and hugging me on the street….. neither one of us could do that. Without my husband to herd me along, it was harder to just pull away from the curb. I wanted to sit there and watch him walk into the house. As I turned the corner and headed toward the highway I wondered how I was going to make the long drive home without crying.

Before I continue I should really clarify that I know that Andy will figure out how to live in this environment. I understand that kids grow up and away from their parents and it’s all part of life. It doesn’t mean that it’s easy though. Especially when it’s the kid, who when he was younger, asked if he had to go away to college or could he possibly live at home because he didn’t want to leave us. I knew we would be okay…. I just didn’t know how I would handle a 9 hour car drive all alone with my thoughts.

IMG_3803Lucky for me, that part was taken care of for me, compliments of my GPS. Looking back I can pinpoint exactly where the directions went wrong but at the time, I was slow to pick up on it. It seemed odd that I was getting off at a different exit than I had gotten on when we arrived. It wasn’t until I saw that QEW showed up as a direction on my screen. What was QEW? I was certain of one thing- I had never heard of it or seen it in my directions before this minute.

It was only as I was really paying attention to signs (and crossing a big, vaguely familiar bridge) that I knew that I was not heading in the correct direction. It appeared that I was on my way to Niagara Falls (and Canada)! I pulled off into a Tim Horton’s Restaurant parking lot to get my bearings. I paused and looked around, wondering idly how far I was from Niagara Falls. (It was 6:30am and I really didn’t need to rush home, did I?) A quick check on my phone confirmed that I was only 20 minutes from the US side of the falls. I entertained the idea of spontaneously taking a side trip but that lasted all of thirty seconds before I quickly did the math and realized that I still had a 9 or 10 hour drive ahead of me, depending on construction, traffic, potty stops, enjoying the Falls time and making up the distance I had gone out of my way. I quickly pulled up directions on my phone, after shaking my head in disappointment at the car GPS that apparently thought I might like an adventure today. I threw the car into reverse and nearly took out two men who were enjoying a leisurely stroll through the parking lot, coffees in hand and lively conversation distracting them from noticing my car backing right at them. I stopped, they reached their car, and I turned out of the parking lot…heading in the wrong direction.

IMG_3804

Luck was still on my side and I ran straight into a roundabout, which was empty. My momentary panic subsided when I realized I didn’t have to worry about yielding or stopping or doing anything wrong. I was able to turn around and head back in the right direction. For the next hour I had dueling GPS voices with the Australian guy on my phone winning out over the electronic female of the car GPS.

Despite my early morning detour, I managed to make it home in record time. The rest of my ride flew by without incident and my GPS mix-up managed to distract me from thinking about and worrying about and obsessing about how Andrew was going to manage. When I checked in with him during one of my rest area stops, he seemed to be doing fine.

I have a few short days before Kris will be returning from their summer job. Then it will be time to make plans to help Kris move into their new place as they head back to college next week. I can hardly wait to see how that goes!

-Kat

Small Steps Toward Acceptance

IMG_3263

  • “The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance.” -Brian Tracy
  • “The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.” -Nathaniel Branden
  • “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” -George Orwell
  • “As I get older, the more I stay focused on the acceptance of myself and others, and choose compassion over judgment and curiosity over fear.” – Tracee Ellis Ross

On a recent trip, I was pleased to find these signs of an open and accepting community around town as I took an early morning walk. It gives me hope for the future. At a time when it seems like we are taking more steps back than forward, it’s encouraging that there are still people who are willing to speak out for what is right.

-Kat