I know that this isn’t perfect. I can’t go back and check it for errors. I’m not even sure it accurately represents my emotions. Having a nonbinary child is not easy. As a parent, I’m learning as I go and just because your child is grown up doesn’t mean that they still don’t need their mom. -Kat
I love my kids. Sometimes it still overwhelms me how much I love them. I’ve been struggling for awhile now. I’ve hidden it, or at least tried to hide it, behind the busyness of having my oldest son and his family living with us. I knew that I was burying a lot deep inside me and not thinking about it but I didn’t realize the full extent until a few days ago.
We took Kris back to school and helped him move into a new apartment. And that stiff upper lip, that full Mom armor, my strength and fortitude and everything crumbled.
Here’s where I start jumping around…..
When I found out that the child that I had called Kerri, my daughter, for 18 years was not my little girl, I had to cope with that loss. I love Kris, no matter what, and that never wavered throughout this journey. But the bottom line is that we live in a very binary world and it stood to reason that if Kerri was not a girl, then Kerri was a boy. It was quite simple. Kris told us this. I had to let go of Kerri so that I could fully embrace Kris as a boy. I witnessed all signs of my daughter leave and I mourned. I never stopped mourning.
And something happened while I was letting Kerri go. I grew to fully embrace Kris as my son. I was able to recognize my child for who he was. Who he had always been. And I loved him even more. I ached for Kerri at times. I missed her desperately. Kerri became Kris. She, her, hers became he, him, his. Daughter became son. Periods were replaced with testosterone. And for the first time, all three of my children were wearing the same size and style underwear.
I stopped seeing Kerri and before long, her ghost was gone although her memory was always there. When I looked, I saw Kris. When I thought about him, pronouns were always male and he was Kris. Anything feminine felt wrong. We were moving on.
And then last spring/summer, I had a few instances where I felt the presence of Kerri when Kris was home. I wrote about it just a little. It freaked me out and I thought I was going crazy. I felt guilty because I thought it was my subconscious wishing Kris was Kerri. But I didn’t feel that way. It was very confusing and I didn’t talk about it much. -Then, I found out that Kris had stopped taking T and some of the puzzle pieces fell into place. It made sense that I was feeling Kerri. Kris was taking on some of the feminine aspects that I would subconsciously attribute to Kerri. I wasn’t crazy… or disloyal.
Through texts and conversations, I found out that Kris is non-binary/genderqueer. He doesn’t identify as male or female. This was a new idea for me to process and digest. It was a difficult concept to grasp.
In January I bought Kris the first dress I had purchased in 5 years. In March, he wore nail polish, and his hair was growing longer. Last week when he came home, his gender expression was completely female, bras, dresses and all. After 4 years of accepting my child as a son, as a boy….. and after wrapping my head around the reality that he was not male….. there was this.
It wasn’t until we were at his apartment trying to get some organization that it hit. And when it hit, I couldn’t breathe. Kris walked into the room and I looked up and my head screamed “KERRI!!!!” silently and my heart tore open. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. After over 4 years, I was seeing Kerri- not a glimpse or a feeling…. it was Kerri.
But this wasn’t Kerri, was it? Kris isn’t my daughter. Kris’s gender expression is full on female but he’s not a girl. Expression and identity are two different things. My heart aches. It recognizes Kerri and it ignores what my mind is telling me. And I feel guilty. And confused.
I know it can be quite simple in theory. Gender does not matter. It most definitely does not factor into my love for Kris. Whether Kris’s expression is male or female, he is my child. but child is impersonal. It doesn’t carry the same emotional attachment as son or daughter- words equated with your offspring, adding maybe another layer of attachment. And if you are thinking, it really doesn’t matter?— unless you have a non-binary child, try removing the identifying name from your children or your siblings or your parents . Refer to them as child, sibling, parent- not Mom, Dad, Brother,….
Head over to Hallmark at birthday time and take a good look. You’ve got the blue male cards for Dads, Uncles, Brothers, Sons, Nephews, Grandfathers, Grandsons. You’ve got the pink female cards for Daughters, Moms, Aunts, Grandmas, Granddaughters and Nieces.
And it’s not about the cards. Or even the gender. It’s about all of it.
When we thought it was the appropriate time to leave, Kris looked at us and asked, “You’re leaving before dinner?” with eyes shiny with tears. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw Kris cry. I was biting the inside of my mouth, trying to keep it all together.
My mind was this calm, steady, quiet voice saying, “You need to get a grip. You need to figure this out. This is Kris.”
My heart was crying, “Kerri….”
I realized that I had never let Kerri go. I just drew her into my heart and guarded her so close inside me that I didn’t know she was there.
That was Friday.
Today is Monday. My heart aches with love and my mind is helping me embrace Kerri’s presence within Kris. As far as reconciling the child who was my daughter, transitioned to male, was my son, is non-binary, uses male pronouns and female gender expression? I’m playing it by ear.
And I’m thanking God that I have a child to be so screwed up over because I know that Kris could just as easily not be here at all and that would be unbearable. When all is said and done, I love Kris and that’s all that matters.