My Child

My Child

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.

 

18 thoughts on “My Child

  1. Ah Kat, I “lost” your blog for a goodly while – happy to have found my way back (the Universe moves in mysterious ways). This post made me cry, echoes of possible/probable futures running throughout it. We are a strange mob, parents and children, bound together but trying to grow into our own. Mourning loss and watching growth at the same time. Contradictions. I wish our life was given with disposable body covers, so we can put on and off whoever we wish to be on any given day, and society was accepting of that. Maybe one day that will be true, but for now the fear of how the world views, and treats, diversity holds many to ransom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you “found” me again, Claudette! I haven’t been writing much, only lurking occasionally trying to read a few blogs, falling behind.

      Being the parent of adult children is another new phase that I’m slow to adapt to. I think I’m just so much a mom that it’s hard to shift out of that at times.

      The tone in the world these days- especially the US- scares me. I’m not sure what happened to acceptance and kindness.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You say you are doing what moms do. BUT, some moms are not so supportive of their child and do not encourage acceptance or foster self-esteem. You, in my opinion, go beyond and are to be recognized for it. Thank you for being a better-than-average Mom!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your kind words, Sam. I know that you are correct and there are parents who don’t step up but I don’t know how to do it any other way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you very much for this post. First, because I think it must have taken great courage, both to tell the story of what’s happening, and especially to describe your feelings of confusion. But also because I’m struggling with much the same confused feelings. The young woman who was my niece came out a few years ago as a male, and the rest of the family is reeling. Not because we don’t support him in this change, but because he’s never been emotionally healthy, is not handling the change in an emotionally healthy way, and we can’t help but think it’s one more instance of a lifetime of being desperate to be as unlike the rest of the world as possible. On the one hand I’m absolutely certain there are plenty of people in world who were assigned the incorrect gender at birth and who must express their gender differently. On the other hand, I’m very concerned that there is sometimes an aspect of needing to be trendy, or different, or (as turned out to be the case for my other niece, who is much younger than her brother) being manipulated into declaring gender mis-assignment by a social group. Or maybe I’m being totally unfair in that assessment. At any rate, I have way more questions than answers and a ton of confused feelings. All this as my church (where I work full time) is beginning to engage in the process of becoming a Reconciling congregation, and I asked to be on the team guiding the process. It’s long overdue, and I fully support the process, and yet I have these ambivalent feelings about some aspects of the LGBTQ experience. Anyway, as I said, I thank you for sharing. And sorry for such a long comment.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was almost breathless reading this….putting myself in your place in what small way I can, and just can’t come up with any words. Other than, I very much admire you for sharing something so deeply personal. The confusion that you must go through, feeling the loss of your daughter, is overwhelming, especially with her being right there. It’s difficult for me to get my mind around this, but again, thank you for sharing…Know you have a world of people here pulling for you and your family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tammi! When I began this blog I wanted to be honest about what it was like to have a trans kid so other parents reading it would know that they weren’t alone. I’ve been resistant to sharing this and it was because I kept delaying talking about it at all that I knew it was something I needed to do. 🙂

      Like

  4. Oh my lord! This full on made me cry. I’m not sure how I would cope in a similar situation, but the way you’ve been dealing with all that has happened, just makes you a remarkable woman in my eyes. So much love and compassion.Your children are so so lucky to have you as their mum.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s amazing what you can handle when it comes to your children. I can’t imagine doing it any differently. 🙂 And I’m so lucky to have them as my kids. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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