My Son’s First Haircut – A Rite Of Passage

A first haircut is a milestone for any parent and their child. Most parents will take their kids in for a big to-do snapping endless photos, snipping tiny locks of hair and saving them in a book or a box to remember the day forever. (Even though we all know it just sits in a bin in the basement or attic collecting dust until we move, and then the box is moved to a bigger basement/attic to collect new dust.. but, hey, we care).

Even though there will be a million more to come, and eventually the “magic” of the first or second haircut dwindles and the routine becomes mundane like any other, we celebrate this event for our kids. For my son, right now…. haircuts continue to be a big deal. Maybe bigger than they were before. His “first” haircut was years ago, and it was very uneventful. A tiny trim to conserve his perfect ringlets that seemed to get fuller and more dramatic (and devastatingly beautiful) with age.

But now, we don’t count that hair cut. For him, his very first true and memorable haircut came after he revealed me that he is trans. And it’s a day that will forever be etched in my mind as a turning point for us, for the better. After my son told me how he felt on the inside and that he felt he was living a lie: a boy trapped in a girls body, he wanted badly to change his hair to a boy style. It was a drastic change that had us all very nervous, even just talking about it before the day came caused (me) panic.

I was anxiety ridden, he was scared kids would make fun of him after, and I might have been holding on a little too tight to that tremendous head of hair he had. Honestly, at first I thought he might back out. He seemed unsure once the moment was staring him in the face and I definitely didn’t want to pressure him into anything. Before the first scissor blade almost grazed his hair he turned his head and  stopped everyone. He asked for us to be alone to have a chat. He explained to me that he desperately wanted this change. He was dreaming about it for months. He was ready. BUT  – he was petrified. He didn’t want the kids at school to “call him names for being a boy now”. A haircut meant that his appearance would match his heart and he couldn’t hide anymore if he felt uncomfortable. He would be exposed.

School was almost out, summer break was close and my son wouldn’t be going to the same school next year. So I tried to urge him to wait a couple weeks. Once summer officially started this whole thing would be a lot less stressful, for all of us. But he didn’t want to wait another day longer. This was happening and it was happening today.

The stylist first put his long, beautiful curls in a pony tail and asked one last time before she started moving her blades through the bound locks. He nodded and… snip. It was GONE. And I anticipated the tears, the instant regret he would have once he realized that this was it. There was no going back now. But instead, my child beamed.

As the stylist continued to even out the long layers my son increasingly got more and more frustrated and my heart dropped because surely this was the remorse setting in and soon he would be crying all over the floor. Yet instead, he said, “it’s not short enough, I still look like a girl.” So my friend (his stylist) kept snipping away, looking at me for reassurance as she slowly cut more and more off until he had a Bieber-esk style cut and was grinning from ear to ear. Once he found words through his smiles and giggles he looked at me and said, “mom, I really look like a boy now, isn’t it GREAT?!?!” He was so incredibly happy and all of my fear, my panic, the tension this day had built up, melted away and all I saw was a very happy little boy who had just experienced one the best days of his life.

I walked in to that appointment scared out of my mind, questioning everything I was doing and feeling so unsure about all of my most recent decisions as a parent who’s child just expressed to them that they might be transgender. This was such a huge moment for him, and for me. Once his hair was short and he was thrilled, it all made sense. I wasn’t doing anything that I couldn’t take back (after all, hair grows back) but to my son, I was “allowing” him to make the changes he needed to feel himself, to feel loved, to feel like his body and his mind finally made sense, and to know that with me, this was all ok. And in the end, that’s all that mattered.

Since then, we have had many haircuts. And every time he wants it just a little shorter than before. And afterwards he still walks around rubbing his head and smiling in disbelief. Like he went to bed a frog and woke up a prince. As if he never thought it was possible to look in the mirror and see someone staring back that matched how he felt inside. But it was possible, and I couldn’t be more grateful that I was the one that stood by and held his hand while that transformation took place. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I will forever remember his first haircut as a defining moment for him, and for me. Maybe more so than I will remember my other kids hair cuts. Because this haircut was one of the experiences that made him who he is.   

Of course I held on to those long locks of his from this very official day. Bound together by the very same ponytail and wrapped delicately in a ziplock bag…. sitting in a box… in my attic.

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When Your Child Comes Out – Family Can Be Harsh

Once my son expressed his true feeling to me about feeling like a boy trapped in a girl’s body, he was rapidly ready to make some serious external changes, and people started asking questions. My child was very open about how he felt to most people. At school he walked right in and announced himself as a boy. In the neighborhood kids asked “so, you’re a boy now?” and he would simply respond, “yep!” and continue on playing, business as usual. There was no doubt in HIS mind, but it sure as hell did make some heads turn or eyebrows raise, especially if this was the first time someone saw him since his appearance drastically changed.

It’s interesting to watch. Especially at this age, because kids {mostly} don’t care. They seem to breeze right over it move on to more fun things. It’s not the kids that scare me when it comes to my child. At least not yet. It’s the adults that seem to be confused, scared, and downright mean.

Since my son has gotten more open about his feelings, we’ve gotten support where we least expected it, found friends in strangers that have gone through similar struggles, and received a lot of backlash from the people I expected to be our biggest supporters.

My son made it very clear rather early that he wanted me to do the explaining. He didn’t want to sit and field questions as a child, he was still figuring this all out for himself and at four that’s hard to articulate to an adult anyway. On top of the language barrier between adult and young child, anyone that wanted to question him seemed to have an agenda of using whatever he said as a way of discrediting his feelings or making him prove to them that this wasn’t some child’s play. It. Was. Infuriating.

Everything he said and did started getting dissected. If he had played with a doll while I was at work (even though he was playing the dad and the doll was the son, as he often did) my family babysitter would call me after and say, “you know, {FULL GIRL NAME} was playing with dolls today, and SHE LIKED IT!” Huge effing eye roll from me.

Photo Credit: Trans Student Educational Resources

No one understands until they do the research that this is a spectrum, that one action does not make or not make you identify as a boy or a girl. And who am I to tell my child how they feel on the inside because of the toys they play with? I’ve always had toys for both sexes in my house. If my oldest (born male) son puts a headband on and prances around the house (and, he has) does that make him feel like a girl on the inside? No.

Comments like this made me quickly realize why he was overwhelmed and decided to defer the questions off to me to let me handle the explaining. Mama Bear mode came on strong in many cases.

Everyone had their theory, everyone had their opinion, and many times… it wasn’t favorable to the path we had already decided to take with my son. The path that the professionals, the parents, the doctors, and every other person I could tell my story to, begging for an answer, had advised us to take. I would spew out statistics and evidence-based research, but it didn’t matter. There are some people that no matter WHAT you tell them, will always think they have the answers. When my son started requesting male pronouns be used to refer to him, some family members flat out refused.

My family tried to tell me horror stories of other trans kids they had heard about (but didn’t personally know), how my kid was going to get bullied out of school, how other kids were afraid of my child. As if I wasn’t already afraid enough for my child. As if this was a choice. I heard all about how my child needs attention, is around too many boys, must be confused, is too young…. I should wait five years. See if this sticks before we do anything “drastic”.

My kid was told “NO” when he would ask them to address him by his new, shortened name. And then they would emphasize his “dead name” when they addressed him to show their opposition to his change. (Dead name is the name you were given at birth. The name you no longer associate with. And for many trans kids, a painful name. Don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t familiar with terms – I still am learning all of the lingo and politically correct terms relating to all of this).

I learned a lot about my family in the beginning, to say the least. And we are still working on some (most). It’s sad when you have to consider if it’s going to be safe and healthy for your child to attend something as simple as a family BBQ, or if you should just stay home altogether. It’s not fair. Hopefully, by this time next year, things will be much different. One can wish… right?

I hear from other trans kid’s parents that they sent out letters or emails, sent an announcement to their family when the situation got real for them to explain what was going on, how to address their child, and many included a number of researched referrals/articles for their family to read if they had questions. I didn’t do this. I should have. Maybe I was giving it some time to make sure, maybe I was scared. I honestly don’t know. But I think it would have helped prepare my family (and done my kid some good) if I had warned them all before we showed up at the next family function with a hair cut, boy clothes, and a new name. Lesson learned.

 

Until next time, be the mom that sticks up for your kid. Even if it’s to family and even if it brings you pain. Be in their corner. And be proud of that.

 

MomTransparenting

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Every Mom Has A Favorite Child

Ok – don’t all crucify me at once. But can we just be real for a minute? On any given day, in any given moment, I have a favorite child. And if no one else is brave enough to admit it, I sure as hell will.

As moms I think we go through phases, just like our kids go through phases. They are like episodes of the miniseries that make our week, our month, our year. The dramatic episodes of not sleeping, refusing to eat or deterring bedtimes with every excuse known to man. Heartwarming ones of showing us some extraordinary side of them we didn’t know existed that makes us well up with this immense amount of pride and love we had no idea we were capable of until motherhood slapped us in the face. Or… the horror episodes of complete dissonance and disgust for you, mom. It’s in these moments, that my favorite child tends to shine bright.

At one point I had three kids ages four and under and it was B.R.U.T.A.L. One of them was constantly going through some growth spurt, some sleep regression, or some milestone that subsequently caused them to have a hard time falling or staying asleep. Which, synchronously, meant that mom was getting a really shitty night’s sleep. During those days? My favorite child was whichever happened to be sleeping through the night with the least amount of interruptions to MY sleep.

Around the age of four, all of my kids seemed to have some chronic case of the “terrible two’s” (what can I say, we have a hard time letting go in our house). Except it was amplified significantly from the average child tantrum and more like a “terrible preschooler who doesn’t care what you say and DEFINITELY doesn’t care what strangers think about them, because they are going to completely meltdown in…. 3, 2,…1…. in the middle of target with NO shame and NO regrets” stage. And in the middle of that stage I think to myself (every.single.time.) “I don’t remember my older child(ren) doing this?” They did, of course. Just like labor pains for sure kicked my ass and made me think (in the moment) that there was no way in hell I was ever doing that again. NOPE. Yet… a few short months later, found myself once again staring down the beginning of the harsh pregnancy path, forgetting all about the inescapable and excruciating ending to the human gestational period.

In that moment, the moment when my child is the spawn of the devil himself and thinks I’ve come to expel him from his body, this child is my least favorite. The favorite spot is up for grabs. Usually, at this point, if you’re quiet? You’ve won the title.

Then there is the moment when I go downstairs to see the laundry has already been washed (albeit not sorted and not enough or too much detergent was used in the process, but this is a minor infraction I can overlook, because it’s DONE!). Because my oldest has taken an interest in housework in exchange for a weekly allowance, he is doing extra around the house to learn the value of money, and simultaneously experiencing buyer’s remorse and the hollow feeling of overspending your very last dollar on something you definitely didn’t think through. You know, major life lessons. In THOSE moments? He’s my favorite. Hands down.

When my child learns to tie their shoe, pick up after themselves, makes a team they tried out for (or doesn’t), in that moment, that child is my favorite. But tonight, when that same child is the one refusing to brush his teeth after I’ve only asked seven times? He slips himself down to the bottom rung and the lead is taken by the snoozing babe with clean teeth already in bed.

Regardless of whether you are willing to accept it or not. I’m guessing you have a favorite right now. It’s the one sitting quietly on your lap while you read this. Or maybe the one who took it upon himself to clean up his own plate after lunch and put it in the sink. Maybe it’s the one who’s napping. But it’s definitely not the one you just put in a timeout ten minutes ago because she took it upon herself to cut her hair while you showered. Or the one who didn’t pick up the legos you asked her to and now you’ve stepped on a tiny landmine of pain. It’s not that one. Not now. But maybe later….

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The Day I Told Someone I Have Two Girls And A Boy, And My Son Was Devastated

There are endless opportunities for you to screw up as a parent. Every single day there is some situation, some reaction, some word that you said that you regret. Endless moments that at the end of the day as you reflect on all of your mistakes you realize you could have done differently, more loving, more understanding, more patient. If you weren’t so tired, weren’t so overloaded with sports to get to and birthday parties to remember to buy gifts for and doctors appointment and school registration and…… as your list continues the list of reasons that magnify your chances to screw up become endless as well.

We all, as parents, have those moments. But one of mine that will always make me cringe with absolute heartache happened shortly after my son came out to me as trans. We are only currently about 6 months into this process, so this was {maybe} 4 months into his path of transitioning.

I was on a work call, and wandering aimlessly around my yard while the kids were all playing with their random toys that didn’t belong outside, that would normally make me squawk at them to take back in the house, but…. I was on the phone… and so they know, this is their chance to get away with murder. I believe all kids of all ages, shapes, and sizes know this offspring life-hack.

Mom said no? Well then, just wait until she’s is on the phone, and then…. ask for whatever you want. The world is your oyster once she has someone important on the receiving end of her cell. She will say yes, and if you’re lucky, the call will take just enough of her focus and energy that by the time she hangs up, she will forget you even did this to begin with. Kid WIN.

My son was currently practicing this little snippet he learned from the  children’s secret society we have no intelligence of (or maybe it was Pinterest, who knows where they figure this shit out): he was asking me for something (I couldn’t remember what if I tried), and I was waving my hand in the “go ahead do whatever you need/want be quiet this is important” mom motion. Meanwhile, the person on the other end of the phone heard my kids in the background which prompted him to ask about them. And I quickly responded, I have two girls and a boy, and continued our business discussion without another thought.

My child was off playing again with his siblings until the next epiphany would come to them to request from me before my phone call ended and their time ran out. It wasn’t until I hung up the phone that my son came up to me and tugged on my shirt ever so gently with a single tear rolling down his cheek. I thought for sure he had fallen off his bike or tripped on the sidewalk and had a boo-boo for me to kiss somewhere on his little body. But instead, he simply said, between the most inaudible but tragic sobs, “mom, you told your friend that I was a girl.”

UGH. Those little words, that devastated face, the wretched shoulders. In that moment I felt so small. So lonely. So undeniably AWFUL. I couldn’t believe I did it and I also couldn’t wrap my head around how intensely upset he was. It wasn’t an obvious visual or audible upset. It was as if someone had just died and the initial shock hadn’t worn off but the emotion was so deep. So hurt.

I’ve since explained in great detail to my son that I am determinedly trying and making a very conscious effort to change my language in regards to HIM. But, there are times I can’t get my kids names right when I am looking right at their faces! I call them out as their sibling, the dog, the neighbor boy, whoever’s name pops in my head first in my fit of fury. But to my trans child, when I make a (avoidable) mistake like that it cuts him on such a deeper level, and so I really need to be more careful.

I haven’t made that mistake in public or with an “outsider” of our family since. And after that moment, I don’t think I ever will. As parents, we always want what’s ultimately best for our kids and we never (intentionally or not) want to be the one that causes their pain. Ever. The excruciating hurt of that one slip was way too much. For us both.

Until next time… be the mom you want to be. Even if she has faults. Even if she gets through her day and promises herself that tomorrow she WILL do better, and tomorrow comes and so do the new day’s errors. Nobody is perfect, but you are trying. Always give yourself credit for that.

 

MomTransparenting

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Common Excuses My Kids Have Used To Avoid Sleep

In my house we have a special kind of song and dance at bed time because I have multiple kids sleeping (in their own beds) in one room. I have mastered how to stagger bedtimes so that they each go to sleep on their own, in chronological order.. but on nights where their bedtime refusal game is strong, it screws with my whole system, and we all hit demon mode in the end. I say a little hymn every night before I start this ritual, but some nights…. we had no fighting chance to begin with. And they have their arsenal of reasons why going to sleep was inevitable from the beginning.

1. Someone saw a shadow, and now there is a monster in their room

They are moving around, sitting up and talking to their siblings and now they have caught a glimpse of their own shadow and have convinced themselves that someone, or (usually) the more chilling version that some THING is in their room. Trying to show kids how a shadow works when you’re running on fumes is something for science, not tired moms.

2. I can’t put on my BLANKETS!!!

The same blankets I expertly placed and smoothed and tucked onto your tiny body before I left the room? THOSE BLANKETS? Someone find

me the nail gun so I can make sure this atrocity doesn’t happen again.

3. Ummmm, MAHMMM, my doll needs blankets too!!!

FFS.

4. The ice in my water melted, so naturally I can’t drink it now

My kids have this weird fetish with ice water, but only at bedtime. Throughout the day, cold water from the tap will do just fine for their sophisticated palates. At bedtime, however, water must be precisely the correct temperature with the exact ice cube count for them to be satisfied. And, God forbid, the ice melts just a SMIDGE and all hell breaks loose.

5. Someone is talking to me in the monitor

yeah – it’s ME. Telling you to lay down and GO TO SLEEP. {eyeroll}

6. I forgot to tell you that next year, on my birthday, I want to have cupcakes instead of cake.

I know birthdays are exciting, but seriously? Yours isn’t for 9 more months, kid. And therefore, not even on my radar. My mind races at night with all things I need to do too. Is this what it looks like inside a child’s brain on it’s way to sleep? Birthday, cake, ice cream, shadows, puppies, Legos, YouTube, ponies, baseball, homework, ABCD…., birthday, blankets, princesses, water, birthday, cake…….

7. It’s really important that this night in April we discuss my future Halloween Costume

See #5. I believe this applies. And, let’s be honest, you’ll change your mind 20 more times before October rolls around. That’s why I don’t have the luxury of getting my Christmas shopping done early. Because if I did, you would turn your nose up at half of your presents because they aren’t “cool” anymore.

8. I need to explain to you in detail the reason why two weeks ago, on Tuesday, I peed in my pants (or got sick, or spit milk out of my nose)

Something “traumatizing” happened and now my poor kid has been trying to figure out why for weeks. I can honestly say, this one is my fault. I over obsess when I do something stupid and embarrassing. Sorry, kid. You inherited this self-reflection and need to replay the moment over and over, from me. I wish I could say it gets better… but it doesn’t. And the embarrassing things you do, only get more awkward and unforgettable (For you. The good news is, everyone else you’re worried about remembering already forgot).

9. There was a tooth fairy sighting, and we are scared

I can’t even make this shit up. This happened. Twice. Next time I see the tooth fairy, we are going to have words.

And the ever-famous….

10. But I’m not tireeedddd….

 

Every mom has a list like this. It’s unique to your children’s choice of excuses on a given night, but you have one. Because all kids look for every excuse in the world to get out of going to bed at night, while we moms are praying to the Gods of Sleep that today is the day they all magically drift off without a production at bedtime. Because WE are exhausted. We are DYING to go to sleep. We’ve been thinking about it all day.

It’s been our oasis through the long, hot, and sometimes lonely,  hike of the day: cleaning up after them, breaking up toddler fist fights, and sitting through episodes on YouTube where grown adults sit and open up plastic eggs with the tiny toys we never want in our house. We’ve licked every wound, washed every dirty hand, wiped every butt, cleaned and re-cleaned every room in the house.

We’ve made it to the top of the greatest mountain known to mom, the one that takes hours and hours of prep and even more time to conquer…. we did the laundry. And now, we just want to slip into the endless abyss of nothingness until around 1 or 2 am when the middle of the night shit show starts because someone woke up with one leg out of their blanket. But we can’t. Because our kids won’t JUST GO TO SLEEP.

 

Until next time… be the mom that gets some sleep. You deserve it.

 

MomTransparenting

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Mom Transparenting

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