A Mother’s Journey

I really don’t mind being the grown up, the parent, the mother.   It’s a lovely way to share and take care of the people that I love.

I do mind, however, always having to be the grown up, the parent, the mother.    I was adultified very early, having to take care of parents whose emotional intelligence was stuck in their own narcissism or sweet involvement.

And being the mom without others seeing and acknowledging that role, without the respect, understanding and dignity that comes when people value the importance and the cost of that role.

Mothers build families, or at least that is their role.   They manage the care, feeding and training of those under their care to help them grow and mature, learning how to manifest their potential in relationship and in the world.

My mother, whose theory of mind was limited by her Aspergers mind, was much better at being upset and making everything about her than she was at helping those she loved flourish.    That mindset drove me into my own world, even as I tried to help those I love.

The approach of manipulation was not the right one, no matter how much it felt defensive and required.   By letting go of my own desires, though, I learned to let go of my desired outcomes so I could work the process, getting the best available while acknowledging that everyone heals and grows in their own way and their own time.

The cost of letting go of my own desires, though, is high.   I wasn’t seen to be playing a feminine role, wasn’t valued by those around me who didn’t want to feel they were surrendering their agency, my choices and sacrifices not understood.

Taking care of growing kids offers a certain joy as you see them mature and blossom, but taking care of aging parents or even stubborn transpeople committed to rejecting expectations offers very different and very limited rewards.

Attempting to help offer new viewpoints, new techniques and new structures to those who are determined to be as individualistic as cats that already have formed behaviours, well, that is a challenging and thankless job.    One is guaranteed to meet both resistance and abuse, stretching over years.

When I stand up and challenge experts in a public meeting,  transpeople are drawn to me, seeing me as saying what they believe needs said, as fighting for them.    When I try to teach by challenging their own personal assumptions, expectations and choices, though, they quickly shut me down, holding fast to the comforting defences, beliefs and structures that they think allow them to survive in a challenging world.

The public image of what mothers should be is tender, kind, embracing and sweet.    For women, those attributes are part of the packaging, from sweet voices to rounded bodies, petite frames to pretty faces, while the true power lies beneath.   Mothers have to be fighters, fighting with and for their families and their communities, the power of a tiger covered in warm fur.

For people raised as men, though, the image is inverted.   They need to be tough, hard and steely, though with a considerate and tender heart.   When those seen as male bodied are seen as fighting, the assumption is that it is their masculine privilege rearing up, not that they are just revealing the ferocious heart of a mother.

I was never one of the girls, a female body marking the perceptions of my nature, my training, acceptance and valuing based on the potential of my reproductive biology.    Finding an effective balance between taking power and playing along is almost impossible when you never know how you are being seen, what is being assumed and assigned to you.

Never having been a child, facing the requirement that someone do the emotional, theory of mind work while being denied the joy, possibility and play which allows a heart to blossom, well, that cost is something I carry with me everyday.   There was no choice; my role was compulsory no matter how much it hurt and constrained me.

This leaves me making families not out of the fresh clay of newly developing young minds but rather trying to build them out of already formed chunks of granite, spirits hardened into rocky outcrops.   To these rugged hearts I try to bring divine surprise, seeing choices in a new way, beyond calcified beliefs and expectations.

Not only is this almost an impossible job, it also comes without understanding and respect, facing resistance rather than engagement.   Nobody wants to grow up to be like me, wants to model themselves, rather, if I am lucky, persistent and good, they may open their mind or heart a little bit more.

The cost, though, is high.  I really don’t mind being the grown up, the parent, the mother.   It’s a lovely way to share and take care of the people that I love.

I do mind, however, always having to be the grown up, the parent, the mother.    I was adultified very early, having to take care of parents whose emotional intelligence was stuck in their own narcissism or sweet involvement.

And being the mom without others seeing and acknowledging that role, without the respect, understanding and dignity that comes when people value the importance and the cost of that role.

The depletion, rawness and stress accumulates without discharge or support.   And the only way to enter the world seems to be containerized in packages that meet the expectations others write onto my history and biology, girded for defence, ready to take the pounding and erasure.

My calling is to help others learn to fight like family, with respect and grace.  I have done this work, but only with limited results.   The obligation to start from scratch over and over again in a society that does not want the jewels I found on my journey, returning a gift that they see as valueless, well, that is too wearing.

I’m sorry that my current writing is not easily accessible for those just meeting me, but I don’t know how to stay that shallow or simple.  I am not an evangelist, a missionary with one basic message, rather I am a voyager, a theologian, trying to set out maps of territory that is unexplored because of fear.  These are the places I had to go to claim back my own spirit, even if no one gets the joke.

I don’t mind being the grown-up, the mom.   But having to only be that, never letting my heart dance in the light of others, able to let down my guard and be cared for, well, that’s much too much.

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