Let’s stop pretending like parenthood is all unicorns and rainbows, ok? There are great days. FANTASTIC days, sure. But there are other days that I feel like an imposter. Like I am living someone else’s life. As if I have no clue what I am doing and it’s only a matter of time that someone finds me out and I am exposed. But why do I feel that way? Because some days… I am not a huge fan of being a mom. Some days I sit and day dream about what my life might be like right now if I hadn’t had kids.
I wonder what kind of home I would have with clean carpet and marker-less walls. What kind of car I would drive that isn’t filled with cracker crumbs and car seats? I think about what career I would have, what kind of hobbies I would have taken up. What I would do with my time if I didn’t have baseball, soccer, karate, gymnastics, school events and scout meetings every night of the week?
I consider what kind of wardrobe I would own if I wasn’t concerned every morning about what food would get whipped at me by tiny hands and find its way plastered onto my shirt by lunch. I think about if I would be caught up on my favorite shows, if my pets would get more attention. Would I feel less tired? Would I have more time to go to the gym or would I eat healthier if I didn’t pick leftover chicken dinosaurs or macaroni and cheese off my kids plates every night?
What would my stress level be like if I didn’t have to fight irrational tiny humans every day to brush their teeth, go to sleep, put their coat or socks on or do their homework. I question if I would have gray hair and crows feet; dark circles and under eye bags. Would those have shown up years or even a DECADE later if I didn’t have kids?
I day dream about my trips to Europe, my girls nights that would be followed up by a day spent on a date with my couch ordering takeout and binge watching Netflix. Without any interruptions to wipe someone’s butt, clean up someone’s spilled milk or kiss a boo boo.
I ponder these things on my bad days and wonder what kind of life I would have had, if I had chosen not to have kids.
And then, something happens. Usually something small. My daughter will smile. Or my son will bring me a portrait he drew of just the two of us. My oldest will hand over a test he scored 100% on that we studied for together for hours last week. And suddenly, I am catapulted back into reality and it’s GOOD. I look around at my stained carpet, my sticky table, the blind my kid broke when he threw a basketball in the house and the sink filled to the brim with dirty sippy cups and I. AM. HAPPY.
I might have my moments where I wonder if I’m cut out for this parenting thing. If I had done things differently, if I wouldn’t be in the financial situation I’m in or if I might have planned better if I wouldn’t have soooo many consecutive years of sleepless nights under my belt. But they are fleeting moments. I can honestly say there are some days that I absolutely HATE being a mom. But I don’t hate the wet, sloppy kisses. I don’t hate the sweet and high pitched “I love you, mommy”s or the tiny arms wrapped around my neck for a hug. I adore their chubby little fingers and their stinky feet. When they fall asleep and are covered in a layer of sweat and drool, I don’t hate that.
I might hate seeing the sunrise every morning, especially when I was up at 12:30, 2:15, 4:45 AND 5 am. But I don’t mind all of the extra cuddles I was lucky enough to soak up during the times of the night when my child was sleepy and affectionate.
Laundry, dishes, and vacuuming are not my favorite chores, but making my child’s favorite meal, finding a special outfit for their big day at school, or cleaning up after a day of making cookies with my three favorite people makes it a little less terrible.
I might not have the fancy car or the plush couch. I may have a bank account that lingers around a balance of three figures on a GOOD day, but I get to spend my days watching personalities grow. I get to witness wonder, reasoning, and the development of logic and love. I am sitting front row to a live show that involves three beings I created as the main characters. And it’s kind of amazing.
My days might be long and arduous but the bad is sugar coated in kisses and sweet scents and the good, the good is just so damn good.
I miss regular “self-care”, hanging out with friends, traveling to places with more adult beverages than costumed princesses and I miss high heels but, honestly, life is a hell of a lot more comfortable with unshaved legs in yoga pants anyways.
So, sure. There are days that I hate being a mom. But that doesn’t mean that I would trade those days in for anything else. Even on the days I hate being a mom, I still love my job, I love my kids, and I am honored to be the one that they call “mom” in the first place.
When my son socially transitioned so many things changed. His appearance, his pronouns, his past. After a playdate where he was exposed in a raw, unexpected way, he didn’t want friends to come over and see pictures of him “dressed like a girl” again.
So he asked me to take down all of our old photos. Years of memories, family events, holidays, birthdays and school concerts. Any proof of our past that included him were essentially erased from our home. At his request. And as much as it pained me, I’ve said from the beginning I wanted nothing more than to be supportive, accepting, and to show him that even if I make mistakes along the way I will always LOVE and respect him no matter what.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss having the memories hung on the wall. The cute photos I had of him as a toddler (albeit in a dress). But, I also understand that for him those photos can be hurtful.
They can be reminders of a life lived as someone else.
Someone who didn’t make him feel as his true self. And because of that, I had to stuff the old photos away in a box and not look back.
When I first started sharing our story I was contacted by a photographer. One who graciously offers to take new photos of families when their children have transitioned to give them a replacement to all of their old family memories hanging on the wall. She does this as a way to show support to the trans community, support to the individuals, and support to the families.
One thing I wouldn’t have thought of in the beginning was to schedule sessions with photographers to replace all of our framed possessions, but I didn’t have to think about this one. Someone is out there doing that part for us, and she’s amazing.
We made the day special. I let him bring any extra outfits of his choice, and he chose a mustache. (Of course he did!) She took care to make sure to get some extra special shots of him, and him alone. As well as countless family and sibling photos to replace the precious memories I had hanging on the walls of our home.
She knew this day was important to us and spent time to make sure the final product was just perfect. A worthy replacement. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
Being a single mom, I don’t often spring for family photos. Any pictures of my family happen to be spin-off of a larger family event. Weddings, parties, something (honestly) not on my dime, because I simply can’t afford luxuries like professional photography.
Many of my “family portraits” were taken with a timer while I was desperately trying to scurry my way into the frame before it was too late. And even then, it takes far too long (and too many) to get one good shot that I can consider even shareable, better yet frame worthy.
I met an entire community of people when my son came out as trans to me. One that welcomed me with open arms and showed me support when I needed it most. They became and extention of my family and I share some of our biggest hurdles, and biggest wins with them. Our first “family photo” included.
If you have a child that transitioned, I HIGHLY recommend taking the time, spending the money, putting forth the effort to replace the old photos you can no longer gush over.
It’s well worth it and I couldn’t be more appreciative to have been able to do this for my incredible son. They turned out perfect and so did he, in every way.
Find Our Astounding Photographer On Facebook Here: Painted Leaf Photography
(I was not paid for this endorsement, this is not a sponsored post. I think what this photographer is doing is amazing and abundantly supportive of the trans community and I wanted to share our experience as a family, but in no way was asked to)
If you’re looking for more trans youth related stories of mine please check these out:
Nothing says “I’m ready for a New Year” like a string of holiday festivities spent with the people in your life you had zero control in choosing, and even less desire to spend that much time with.
Between the creepy relatives, overindulgence of pie and alcohol, and your kids spending weeks being gushed over like they are part of the royal family, everyone in the house needs a serious sage detox before it’s too late.
If you’ve made it through Christmas you’re probably looking at your tree now barren of gifts and wondering how the fuck you manage to do this year after year without committing yourself.
Your bank account is empty, your stockings are ripped down from their expertly placed hook and now strewn on the floor like the rest of the abandoned socks in your house, and the Christmas tree is dropping pine needles like your kids drop crumbs of food on your freshly vacuumed carpet.
You NEED. A. BREAK.
Since it’s still the season of below freezing temps and frostbite, no one wants to leave the house anyway. Here are some solid ways you can get your energy and self-esteem back right in the comfort of your very own home:
Create an In-Home Spa Sanctuary– The first thing you’ll want to do is really set the scene for healing. Any space can be transformed for optimal soul rejuvenation with the right tools. Establish aromatherapy by collecting your most soothing essential oils (or just your favorite hairspray will do) and spritz the area to create a fragrance of something other than dirty underwear and soggy dog. You can lather yourself in lavender body lotion for added calming effects, but if you don’t have that, Aveeno can have remarkable therapeutic effects.
You probably don’t keep candles in your house anymore, because, kids. So just take your kids’ iPad and drape your most used towel with the worn thread count over it to create an ambiance of mood lighting to help get your mind right. You can really amp up the tranquil atmosphere in your home by adding some plush robes and fancy tea to this relaxation ritual. But since you’re a mom now, you already know you can’t have nice things, instead throw on one of your husband’s over-sized t-shirts and reheat your coffee in the microwave. Let’s get this party started.
Massage – I know, you’re thinking I’ll never have the time. But, alas, you birthed the essential tool to complete this spa staple. I’m sure you’ve heard of cupping and hot stone massages, but have you ever tried tiny feet shoved into the small of your back while you’re trying to relax on the couch? It really loosens the joints and muscles allowing for optimal rejuvenation and removal of those nasty toxins. Your kids will likely not even need to complete a lesson on how to effectively apply desired pressure during this technique, but just in case, maybe you should kick them first so they get a thorough demonstration? It will aid in your overall wellness goal.
Facial Masks – Yogurt masks are a thing. Whether or not they are supposed to come straight out of your refrigerator is another story, but hey… minor details we can overlook. I find GoGurts work well for this because they have a sweet taste and a delightful color. Just take the whole tube and spread that sucker all over your face canvas. It’s cool and refreshing straight out of your refrigerator and if it gets on the furniture, you can assume there was already a spread of some food there before you got there. If you can’t beat em, join em?
Mani/Pedi – This one is tricky, but it’s definitely doable. Get your least favorite towel and the LIGHTEST shade you can find and announce to your toddler it’s time to play “nails”. She will jump all over the chance to reenact her favorite YouTube videos of grown adults playing with toys and talking in baby voices. If you’re really brave, you can let her do your fingers too. It buys you another three minutes to “relax” while she paints your entire hand in an overwhelming scent of shimmery chemicals that will take an entire bottle of acetone to remove. But hey, self-care is important, right?
Take a bath – You have two options here. You can either opt to knowingly allow your kids to destroy your house while you lock yourself in the bathroom with threats of decades-long grounding if they even THINK about bothering you (someone BETTER BE BLEEDING!). Or, you can go the more conservative route and slap your bathing suit onto your still detoxing post-holiday pie body and round up the little monsters for a family bath. The kids will think it’s a blast while you sit and enjoy a lukewarm tub filled with bubblegum flavored bath bombs and your child’s urine. Be extra efficient and apply your GoGurt bath just before you embark on this endeavor. That way you effectively wash it off while your kids splash water all over your bathroom floor with your tears.
Getting through the holidays can be B.R.U.T.A.L. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find time to recharge your mind and body and start the New Year off with a soul rejuvenating BANG. Everyday household items can be easily transformed to spa tranquility staples with just a few simple steps. Make it a “fun for the whole family” kind of event and get the kids involved in this DIY dumpster fire and before you know it your house will be filled with yogurt, bubbles, and nail polish just like any other day of the week. Except for this time, you’ll have lavender scented skin and iPad induced mood lighting to push through. And think of all the money you’ll save by dishing out your very own sanity instead! You’ll be wondering why you don’t do the home spa thang more often!
And keep in mind, if all else fails, there’s always Benedryl. And wine.
Nama-stay home, you got this!
If you enjoyed this check out some of my other humor pieces here:
There are quite a few babies coming in my family this year. None of which happen to be mine (thank you, sweet baby Jesus for watching over me with your love and protection).
But it got me thinking about how I missed the days of sniffing my baby’s head while they drifted off to sleep in my arms. The smell of new human breath mixed with sour milk and a dirty diaper. I mean, I can’t even say the bad smells were all that bad when I got to inhale the scent of a new baby all day long. (Is it obvious that even the THOUGHT of new baby smell has my ovaries screaming over here?)
So as I sit reminiscing about the “good ole days” of sleepless nights, cracked nipples, and the world’s cutest wails, I keep thinking about all of the things people said to me during those first couple days and weeks of having a new baby in the house. And why they all remind me that I am SO grateful to not be the new mom to be this time around.
Every new mom has heard these at least once, probably more than once, but definitely not enough times, because we all need some serious cliche’s from the visitors who come when we least want them to fuel our first days living with a newborn, amiright?
Here are some of my faves. (Feel free to add on your own worst nightmares in the comments)
Sleep when the baby sleeps.
This is not a new joke. I have seen MANY variations of this ridiculous advice being poked fun at, for ample reasons. It’s a joke to think that you can sleep on demand, not to mention, babies sleep A LOT, it just so happens that zero of those hours happen to be during the times that you are also tired. It’s basically scientifically proven that as soon as your baby decides to konk out, you will get a second (or third, or fourth) wind and begin feverishly trying to finish any housework you’ve neglected while you were too busy sniffing your babies head. Or, you will decide to finally take a snooze (because… you really do need it) and the SECOND that kid senses you unconscious they will wake up in a fit of rage and hunger reminding you that the rest of your life will be on constant demand to whatever this tiny living being requires. What if the new baby has an older brother or sister? Is there some magical fairy that will make certain they also sleep when the baby sleeps too? Or should you just pretend those kids don’t exist during those precious moments? I’m going to need some serious clarification of this solid advice you have to give.
If you think this is bad… wait until they are OLDER!
Oh, thanks, Susan. So you’re telling me that I should just give up on this parenting thing now because it’s hopeless? How exactly do I go about returning this purchase for a full refund of my blown out vagina and brand spankin new stretch marks? Can I possibly bitch about my CURRENT hell without someone terrifying me by debunking my theory that at some point this WILL get better???!!!
When are you going back to work?
Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that learning how to take care of a completely helpless and 10000% dependant HUMAN BEING wasn’t considered actual work. How stupid of me. Right now I’m questioning when I am going to get my bowel movements back without excruciating discomfort, but I’m sure work will be the next thing on my mind. Right after I clean up this shit blowout and finish my google research desperately seeking the most effective way to help my baby latch so I can stop feeling like my nipples have been clamped by some medieval torture device for the past three hours. I was just thinking about the anticipation I’m filled with to see the reaction on all of my coworkers’ faces when I walk in with an unwashed topknot and wrinkled (probably dirty) shirt covered in spit up and my own drool.
Are you sure he is yours? He doesn’t look ANYTHING like you!
Just GTFO of my house, mmk? What is that supposed to mean? Babies look like tiny naked molerats when they are born and literally nothing else. If a baby came out looking like a 30 something-year-old wrinkly woman with dark circles, saggy boobs, and a spare tire/muffin top, I would have some genuine concerns for his health. So the fact that my baby looks NOTHING like me is encouraging to me that things are going to be just fine for this kid. But thanks for the confidence boost, I promise she’s mine. I have the perineum stitches to prove it, would you like to see them? You sure?
You need SLEEP! You look so tired!
NO SHIT? Is that all? I’ve been wondering what could possibly be causing these dark circles, constant caffeine cravings, and perpetual yawns. Now I know, it’s just MOTHERHOOD. I look tired because I. AM. TIRED. If you are going to say anything even remotely close to this to a new mom, you should make sure you’re about to follow it up with “let me watch the baby for a little bit while you go take a nap.” Otherwise, you’re just a complete ass-clown lacking common courtesy who doesn’t deserve to sit and smell someone’s new baby heaven. Go home; you’re rude.
Aren’t you so happy/excited/in love?
Honestly? No. I’m miserable. But I am also exploding with adoration and pride and a million other overwhelming emotions that I can’t quite put my finger on because I am so fucking tired I can’t THINK. But unless you want to hear about the good, bad, and the ugly, please don’t ask questions that Society norms force me to answer with a bold-faced lie.
Is the baby always this fussy/dry/tired/ WHATEVER?
Unless you are a pediatrician, please refrain from making ANY remarks to a new a parent that could lead them to question there might be something wrong. Every new mom is already overwhelmed with the idea that they were sent home with an entirely dependant stranger who’s sole existence relies on them. They don’t need any reason to build concern and add on to their seemingly endless mounds of anxiety-inducing facts they are finding.
Are you done? Are you having another one soon?
I’ve heard both of these. After I had one (or two) people then would ask me if I was done having kids shortly after the birth of my third. Because apparently the news had circulated that maybe being a mom wasn’t my best quality and I should probably stop procreating. Nothing makes you feel genuinely concerned about your parenting skills than someone asking you if you are ready to stop having kids because they seem to know something you don’t. It’s none of ya damn business. Don’t ask this question.
I’m sure there are plenty more here that I have not covered, but if you’re like me and about to meet a new baby, make sure you keep these in mind. New moms don’t get enough discouraging, useless, and overall bad advice. Please, adorn them with your best nonsense because having a newborn at home is really boring. You are basically stuck inside with nothing to do but feed, clean, soothe, and change the baby while obsessing about every noise, yelp, cry and quiet sound they make. It’s a cake walk, really.
When I brought children into this world, I promised myself, as a parent that I would be their biggest champion in life.
I vowed to be the shoulder to cry, the hand to feed, the kisser of boo-boos, the teller of stories, and the one they could rely on. Always. No matter what.
When my son was only 4 he revealed to me that he is trans. He confided in me that he was living life as a girl, because that’s what he was told he was, but inside…. inside he was someone else. He felt different, he felt wrong. Like his brain and his body didn’t match up but he couldn’t put his finger on it, exactly. At least not until he started communicating all of this to me and we sought help, found professionals and had more and more conversations. It became abundantly clear to me rather fast that my (then) daughter was, in actuality, my trans son.
And he needed my acceptance and support more than anything else.
Learning this “secret” of his didn’t change my role as a parent or an advocate, if anything it magnified it exponentially because now I was the one holding his hand while he navigated where to go from here. Helping him decide on big decisions like hair cuts, a name, pronouns, and who and how to tell his secret to.
Being young, he was off and running once he expressed his true self to me and understood that my love for him didn’t change. He was telling people, confident, and open.
I, on the other hand, was scared.
I was worried about other’s reactions, how I was going to explain this and how I would defend him, because I knew it was inevitable that I would be doing more defending than anything.
I was worried about what kind of parent I was going to look like, despite knowing that the kind of parent I was is exactly who I wanted to be all along.
As things progressed in their natural way for him, I found it harder and harder to find support for myself. I turned to complete strangers to share openly with and they welcomed me with open arms. They became my solace, a group of like-minded parents with similar kids who all just wanted the same thing, to love, support, accept their kids and shield them as much as humanly possible from the terrors of the world.
It was great to have this network to turn to, but it was also very lonely and isolating that the only way I found “my people” was in a cyber world. A world of supporters that didn’t exist in real life.
In real life, things were much different.
I can count on one hand how many close family and friends I can turn to and OPENLY discuss my son. Using the correct language and pronouns, using his chosen name, and talking as if life is absolutely normal, as it should be.
And then… there is the rest of my “support”. My family that I love more than anything in the world, but with whom I have to tread carefully. I have to consider the words I use very carefully.
I have three children. And I can speak freely about two of them. But one of them, the one that happens to be trans, I have to be very cautious and tread carefully with my words, with my expressions, with my stories. I can’t over share or I offend. I can’t leave him out or it’s obvious. If I address the issue head on it becomes an argument. More defending. More explaining. And very little understanding. Even less acceptance.
It’s become the very large elephant in the room. And it’s an awkward room to live in.
It’s very lonely living as an ally to your trans child. Sometimes you feel like you’re speaking to a brick wall, you’re loaded with an arsenal of research and statistics, knowledge and education and you’re ready, willing, and able to share it with whoever will listen because all you want is for your child to be understood. To be accepted and to be treated and SEEN equally among your others, as the person he is, the person he presents as to everyone else in this world.
You want to be able to go to family functions and not get the side-eye or have people bombard you with their opinions on your life, your child, your decisions because as outsiders, they seem to have all of the answers to your very intimate and personal dilemmas.
Being an ally to a young trans child means being the one who has to have the tough conversations. It also means sometimes being the one who has to decide whether or not to sever relationships.
When you’re your child’s ally, his PARENT, you just want people to start coming around to your side of the fence so you can stop toeing the line and start living life to its fullest, like you’re urging your children to do every moment of every day.
Like you promised yourself you would, until it meant you might lose family if you weren’t careful. So you toe. You tread lightly. And you hope that one day they will come around so you can have your relationships back, your life back, and your family back. In a new, better, more authentic way and without censors and boundaries that went up necessarily but not permanently. At least you hope not.
As an ally, you want to be understood, but you also want people to comprehend WHY you are taking the actions and making the tough decisions you are because of the importance to YOU that your child receives a message of unconditional love. Of immense support. Of nothing other than a message from the champion you promised yourself you would be to your children before you knew what kind of champion or advocate they were going to need.
As an ally of a trans kid, and a member of a family you now feel like you’re on the outer skirts of, you get lonely and you wonder if things will ever get better, but you hear stories from your “friends” in your cyber space and you see it IS possible. They’ve done it. And you can too. You will, eventually. At least that’s what you tell yourself.
Until then, you thrive off of watching your child flourish and grow into their true self and seeing them become more and more the person they were meant to be helps the sun burst through some of the gloomiest of days.
Being an ally means being the one I always wanted to be for my child. The one they could rely on and depend on without question. The person that would be their rock and walk down any rough path right beside them.
Being an ally to my son means the world to me. I just sometimes wish others would see how much love, compassion, and understanding it takes not to deal with him…. he’s easy. But to deal (or not deal) with everyone else.
If this piece resonated with you here are a few others I’ve written about my experiences with parenting a young trans child. Good luck to you, moms and dads. You’re doing great <3