“I’m Singing!”

Did you ever have one of those unexpected moments that make you smile….I’m talking a big ear-to-ear grin… and you look around to share that joy with someone else and there’s no one there? I had one of these moments when Kris, Andrew, CJ, Beej and I were out shopping on Black Friday this year. It was not as eventful as last year’s Shopping With CJ and Buzz, but there was one moment.

I was warm, tired, hungry and frustrated, finding no real bargains, when I was standing in front of a toy display, staring at new Star Wars toys. Since The Force Awakens was not out yet, I didn’t know who the characters were and what I was looking for. I was ready to throw in the towel when I heard a voice nearby.

“I’m singing! I’m in a store and I’m singing!”

If you are unfamiliar with the 2003 holiday movie, Elf, starring Will Ferrell, James Caan and many more famous actors, you really do need to see it. And if you are unfamiliar with Elf, the above quote means nothing to you so you can watch the video clip below.

As the smile spread across my face, I looked quickly for any of the boys, preferably the big one who would know what I was talking about, although I’m sure Beej would be just as amused, as he is by everything these days. There was no sign of ANYONE— not even the lone singer, who I had hoped to catch a glimpse of so I could thank him for brightening my day.

We left the store empty-handed but Kris and Andrew were entertained by my near encounter and disappointed that they didn’t get to hear it and CJ and Beej were happy to head to McDonald’s for a special lunch.

And this memory will always bring a smile to my face- reminding me that the smallest thing can make the biggest difference.


Family · Words to Live By

Not All Mothers

I’m not a perfect mom. I get tired. I complain. Sometimes I don’t want to talk about anything at all and I only want to sit alone in a room in complete silence.

K and mom

On Christmas Eve, I threw a tantrum that could only be rivaled by 1 year old Beej’s glorious fits. I let nerves, stress, exhaustion and a whole bundle of emotions I would rather not get into get the best of me. I was convinced that the gifts I had to give were not good enough. The house was a mess. The food didn’t turn out right. With the little guys in the house, I wanted them to experience the joy and wonder of Santa while their parents had different ideas. I know this is not on me, but I embraced it as my own shortcoming just the same. I felt that in trying to live up to my own unrealistic expectations that I had let everyone, including myself, down.

I really beat myself up this Christmas season and the recurring theme appeared to be all things MOTHERHOOD. I thought about what it meant to be a mother, how differently everyone mothers, what makes a good mother or one that is below standards and by whose rubric are they graded. While I was panicking that the stockings would be empty, I examined the mothers close to me as well as the ones whose paths I crossed while out and about.


And although I’ve known this all along, I was reminded of the following things-

Not all mothers are born mothers. Some take time to learn. Some never do.

Not all mothers put their children’s well-being before their own. I’ve been a mother for 25 years and I still can’t imagine sitting down at the table to eat a meal if one of my kids hasn’t eaten yet. And if we are eating out and their food isn’t quite what they expected, I will still offer them my plate.

Not all mothers live by the “mind over matter” mantra. I have cared for my children while having a myriad of illnesses, only slowing down when reinforcements had arrived (aka Dad) or everyone was sleeping soundly.

Not all mothers hear their kids in their sleep. I’m the lightest sleeper in town and now I not only hear my own kids’ many trips up and down the stairs or to the bathroom but baby Beej’s cries when he loses his pacifier.

Not all mothers see and hear what their kids are telling them…. even when their kids are screaming it in their face telling them. I see children begging for their mom’s attention in a variety of ways- some as point blank obvious as “Play with me”.

And not all mothers WANT to see or hear what their kids are telling them. 

Not all mothers realize how incredibly powerful their words are. One sentence uttered in anger can linger in a child’s mind for the rest of her life.

Not all mothers love unconditionally. I’ve often thought about this. What are acceptable conditions when it comes to loving your child? I can’t think of any. I tried to raise my kids to be caring, responsible, compassionate people and although some might need a little work, I don’t feel that warrants me not loving them. Yet, I see mothers who only want to be with their kids when they are happy and cute and funny (if they are small). Mothers of adult children…..I’m not sure where to begin with that one. I don’t feel that it’s my place to tell my adult children who they should be. Each one is unique and special in his own way and I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of them.

Not all mothers want to be mothers. 

And not all mothers ARE mothers. 

Every child deserves to be loved unconditionally, supported, accepted and nurtured by their mother.

And as for the end of that Christmas holiday that was kicked off by my horrible behavior? Christmas evening was spent with us gathered as a family watching Elf. My husband and children were willing to forgive (and hopefully forget) my moments of insanity and I love them all the more for their acceptance, love and support of me.

2005 Picture 209


Family · Gender



There’s no formula to living life. You don’t insert this data into a prescribed algorithm and everything turns out fine. And every person’s experience is unique to them.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Christmas can bring feelings of sadness for moms of transgender kids. It’s not all moms. Some sail through the holidays with little thought of what has been lost, able to fully focus on what IS.

But some of us have a more difficult time. It’s hard to explain exactly why that is. One thing I can assure you is that I am overly sensitive and defensive when I’m faced with someone telling me to love the child I have and be happy that he’s alive and all that.

I’m pretty sure that my feelings for my son have everything to do with my feelings of loss for the daughter I thought I had. It’s because I love and cherish my child so much that I miss the one I thought I had. But I digress..

In my mission to get the tree decorated, I enlisted CJ’s help. He is my grandson, he’s six years old and he does not know that his Uncle Kris is transgender.

His task was to help me sort ornaments into 3 piles- Kris’s ornaments, Andrew’s ornaments and everything else.

I would hold up an ornament and he would read the name and place it in the correct pile. Things were moving along nicely when we hit a roadblock. I pulled out the ornament* (pictured above) and turned it over, fully expecting to see Kris’s name on it. I hesitated when I saw “Kerri” still written across the back. Oops! How had this ornament managed to sneak through? This was the 5th Christmas since Kris had come out.

As my luck would have it, this was the one time CJ was actually paying attention. He reached for the ornament and said, “Whose is it?”

Until this year, CJ was not reading and this wouldn’t have been an issue but since I seemed to be having a streak of bad luck, he frowned and said, “Kris? That doesn’t say Kris. What is this name?”

“Kerri,” I replied. Kerri is a name he has only heard perhaps three or four times.

I placed the ornament aside and moved on to the next ornament, choosing a very cool one, hoping to distract him. No such luck. After a short pause, he asked, “Who’s Kerri?”

Another pause, this time mine. “She is a girl we used to know.”

And that was that.

Fast forward to a few hours later when I was telling Kris and Andrew about the ornament.

“That’s all?”he asked. I nodded. “She’s here in spirit.”

I nodded. “Yes, she is.”

Kris remarked, “Here’s another one.” He was holding a Furby ornament with “Kerri” written carefully across its beak.

“How did that one sneak past, too? How many more are there?” I asked.

Kris shrugged. “This one’s okay. I’m putting it on the tree anyway.” And the Furby ornament took a place of honor, front row and center. As he was walking out of the room, I heard him say, “She’s always with us.”

It wasn’t until I was talking to Kris about these ornaments that I felt the lump in my throat and the tug at my heart. As Kris is becoming more comfortable expressing his gender, which does not fit any description I can come up with other than its so KRIS, I feel Kerri more and more. At those times it’s not a tug but a gripping squeeze that takes my breath away because I’m still not accustomed to her presence mixed up so much with Kris. I still have a lot to work through in this area and as always I don’t want Kris to know that I struggle with this. I want him to feel safe and loved and accepted as he figures things out. My issues are my own and I won’t put them on him. I love him just as I always have and always will. Nothing will ever change that. None of this changes who he is.

There’s a good chance that Christmas will always be tinged with a smidge of sadness but I am choosing to hold onto all the happy memories of that “girl we used to know”.

Oh, and as far as the tree goes? Once we put the replacement angel on the tree, it will be already to be shared for Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 8- Charity Christmas Tree Topper Challenge. We are still pondering names- we have two possibilities- Sophie or Rafiki.

*The story behind the ornament. Kerri began taking horseback riding lessons at 13. I was nervous because horses are pretty darn big when a person is an average sized kid. Kerri was not, always having had an affinity with animals. Aside from bringing back memories of that specific time in Kerri’s life, this reminds me that this is one of countless times that Kris showed a courage, strength and determination to overcome obstacles to work towards a goal.

Family · Gender

The Angel on My Tree

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people for any number of reasons. The list is endless. For me, my downfall is the ornaments on our tree. Since Michael’s first Christmas 25 years ago, my kids got ornaments with their name and the year on them. Some years I would also get a personalized family ornament. Then lets add in the ones given as gifts over the year, always with a name on them. That’s a lot of ornaments.

When Kris first came out as transgender, the impact of opening the boxes that first Christmas and seeing the name that I had given my daughter times 18 (and more) caught me off guard. That first year, all of the ornaments with Kerri’s name on them were put away in a separate box. During year two, I braved that smaller box and studied each ornament, determining which ones would survive the removal of the name and which were undeniably girl ornaments and no longer appropriate. Kris was happy to see the return of many of his beloved favorites sporting his name and I was happy to see them back as well, although still a little sad.

This year, I had forgotten about the feelings that accompanied the ornaments and as we struggled with getting the lights on the tree to work, all was well. Then, in one of my Facebook groups for parents of transgender kids, a mom posted-

I love my son but today I really, really miss my daughter.

One mom brought up the Christmas ornaments and that was IT.

I went off to find that box of Christmas ornaments- the ones that no longer made it onto our tree. But the box wasn’t where I remember it being and I panicked. I searched in my office, went back to the location I thought it had been but didn’t see it and it became an obsession. I had to find that box but I didn’t know where it was. I wracked my brain, trying to remember if I had put it in another box with some of Kerri’s other things or if I had found a special place for it but nothing was coming to mind. And I was panicking. Big time.

Angel Ornament

I stared at our unfinished tree and I saw the angel ornament. One of Kerri’s that sneaked her way onto the tree. She could do that because she wasn’t personalized due to the glitter. This was it. The only representation of a daughter I used to have. Or more accurately, a daughter I thought I had.

I started to think about those lost ornaments, as well as the altered ones, and what they mean to me. See, there are many people who would tell me that I have not lost my child and I should be rejoicing in that. And I do. Believe me, I DO. Every single time I see that another transgender life has been lost, I thank God that I still have Kris here with me. And when I look at the old ornaments with the new name on them, they do bring me joy because it gives me a feeling of continuity and life going on.

But those ornaments, especially the ones in the box, represent so much more than that one specific year when it was given. I hand picked each and every one with my child in mind- whatever phase or hobby was “the thing” that year. There are the ones with the girl playing the clarinet, the swimmer girl, Baby Bop, ice skating, and so many more. Each of these ornaments brings to mind a time in our family history. They remind me of my changeling, who I thought was my daughter, then thought was my son, and in the end who I learned to love simply as my child, with no qualifying relationship name other than child or kid or offspring. It’s as if every memory sweeps through me in this surge and it overwhelms me, playing with my emotions. I feel the uncertainty of those early transition days where our worlds seemed all shaken up and unfamiliar. I recall the point when I realized that I no longer thought of Kris by his birth name and the sadness that accompanied that thought mixed up with the immense relief that it was getting better. And when I reached the point where Kerri seemed like a complete person separate from Kris and I felt like I had let Kerri go, I am coming to terms with Kris’s announcement that he is genderqueer and nuances and facets of Kerri, that kid I had thought was gone, are reappearing, mixed up with Kris’s being.

I will enjoy this Christmas, being surrounded by my family. But I think I will always feel some level of sadness every year because those ornaments will always be a symbol of so much more than just Christmas or Kris or Kerri. They will be a reminder of years past, happy and sad times, and hope for the future as we look at how far we have come, not only Kris as he navigates this journey, but all of us as we travel along side him, all of us transitioning in different ways.

I am only able to write this post now because I did find that box of ornaments. It was in the original place I had put it. In my panic, I kept looking right past it.

And as we finish decorating our tree, it will be interesting to see if 6 year old CJ will allow Kris to put any of his ornaments on the tree because to quote him-

Uncle Kris has the coolest ornaments!

Oh, and that angel ornament? She has an important job. She continues to represent all of her companions of years past. When I look at her, I don’t just see the angel that she is. I see all of them- the girls playing the clarinet, the teddy bear, the ice skater, the engraved 1st Christmas ornament, the snowman, the angel, the baby in the stocking, the rocking horse, the swimmer and Baby Bop.

the missing ornaments

Family · Photography Challenges

Big B, Little B

What begins with B…..and W?

Here are my photos for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Starts With the Letters B or W.

I might have used this photo before but Baby Beej reading a book to Ari had too many Bs to pass up. And because he really does love his books, I decided to throw in the second one.

bw winnie the pooh
W is for Winnie the Pooh. (I think these guys multiply over night!)
bw woody buzz
WOODY & BUZZ- These two guys are authentic ORIGINALS, owned by my oldest, Michael. 
bw beer
Last of all, B is for beer! 🙂