If you are new to my blog, you can get the quick facts about me and my family in Kat 101.
I have spent a lot of time with Jasmine, my daughter-in-law, these past two months while my son Michael was away training for his new career. I feel blessed that I was able to be there for doctor appointments and I was happy to accompany her on her hospital visits with preterm labor. Our relationship has strengthened and grown. And now that the baby is here, I’ve been spending time with her helping out when needed. I cherish this time. I really do.
And yet it triggered something inside me. Something I probably should have expected but I didn’t. As I watched her interact with her mother and I marveled at how lucky I was that her mother shared her with me during such a personal, amazing, life changing time, I was struck with an overwhelming pang of sadness and loss. It was very confusing, as most things involving Kris seem to end up being. The pain welled up in my throat in the form of a granite like lump and sat there. I would never have this moment with my daughter. I wouldn’t share these precious moments that mother and daughter share. While I was included in Jasmine’s time with her mother, I was an outsider.
Trying to express what I was feeling to a friend, the response I got was that I should just accept that I don’t have a daughter, be happy for what I have and enjoy my family…..that she had to tend to her dying mother when her child was a baby. She meant it as a reality check. It landed like a sucker punch to my gut and hurt like hell.
After much thought, here are the five things I think I need to tell her (and other people who are close to me….or just think they are):
1- I still miss my daughter. I will miss her for the rest of my life. Kerri and I spent 18-1/2 years building what we thought was a mother/daughter relationship. While the foundation and the basics of that relationship remained, we had to tear through a lot of layers to rebuild who we were and what we were with each other. If you ever take the time to look closely at components of a mother/daughter relationship, you will see that it is very different than a mother/son relationship. And what Kris and I have resembles nothing like me and Michael or me and Andrew. While the parent/child building blocks are at the core, what had grown over the years was changed and we had to work hard to maintain closeness throughout. You might look at your relationship with your daughter and think “no biggie” but it’s not that simple. I miss those things I will never have that I spent 18+ years assuming were probably on the horizon.
2- I don’t need a reminder to count my blessings and enjoy my family….my new grandson. Cherishing every second with my family and dealing with feelings about my daughter are not mutually exclusive and one does not detract from the other. This might be the most important of all.
3- The simple truth is that having 3 very good friends who all have daughters is hard at times. They are all beautiful girls and their parents are blessed to have them. But sometimes it makes me ache.
4- Kris is still extremely fragile. He might not look like it. He might post happy little updates on Facebook and smile when you see him. He is at such high risk. Even with a gender therapist and a psychiatrist and the medication. You think you know what I’m dealing with but you don’t. While some of his issues are things you might think you know- putting the transgender component into play gives these same issues a twist you can’t imagine. It’s like dealing with an unknown demon and the hardest part is that Kris doesn’t fully realize it either. I worry all the time.
5- Triggers- what an interesting word this has become. I never know what my triggers are going to be. Sometimes they are obvious like the wedding or this experience with Jasmine. Other times they can be a small redheaded girl or the interaction between a mother and daughter.
None of these things are big news to me but my attitude towards them is. There was a time when I would feel apologetic or maybe like I shouldn’t be feeling the way I do but now I know that it’s okay for me to feel this way. I’m not wallowing. I’m processing it, thinking about it, dealing with it and accepting it.