When my middle child, Kris, still went by Kerri* I had a rambunctious, feisty, strong-willed little girl on my hands. I could always tell when she was preparing for a major step towards independence. She acted in a very specific way that is difficult, even to this day, for me to describe. I can only liken it to her holding onto my hand as tightly as she could, as if she was afraid if she loosened her grasp in the slightest she would lose contact with me instantaneously. Meanwhile, with her free hand she was pushing me away with all her might. As a parent, it was hell to experience. I couldn’t help, I couldn’t hold on and I couldn’t let go. I had to just be there. And I always did my best to be sure that K knew that.
In 24 hours we will be taking Kris to college, setting him up in a campus apartment with a roommate he has never met.
He is 22 years old. This is the third time he is leaving us. Those two sentences should be telling me that a. he is old enough to do this and b. he has experience living without us…18 months to be exact.
Still, I’m worried. And this goes beyond your average “kid going to college” mom worry. You would think I would be used to this but I’m not. I’m not sure that I will ever stop worrying.
This first time Kris left was when he entered his freshman year of college. He had come out to us as transgender just weeks before. It was the worst nine months of our lives.
Time number two was last year when he was in the Disney College Program. Kris suffered major anxiety throughout our drive resulting in me panicking in a major way about my ability to leave him there. He landed on his feet….sort of.
And now, as the clock winds down and we find ourselves closer to that time when I will have to hug him and walk out the door, I can feel it happening yet again.
The tug on my hand, the pull on my heart. He will be okay. I know this. It doesn’t make it any easier.
*When it comes to pronouns, it can be a tricky thing in the transgender world. Early in this journey, Kris and I discussed which pronouns he felt comfortable with us using when referring to him during his “Kerri” days. With some trial and error, we decided that using feminine pronouns when talking about Kerri felt like the best fit. Kris’s reasoning is that at the time that he was Kerri although he knew he felt more male, he was living his life as a girl.