A Day for Mothers
Tomorrow is, for those of us who still share our lives with a spouse and our kids, Awkward Day. You know the day I mean, known to the rest of the world as “Mother’s Day.” If you make a list of all the things about transitioning after marriage that can lead to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, no matter how good the intentions, Mother’s Day has to be in the top 10.
It is not even necessary for their to be conflicting stated desires. I told my wife years ago that I was not in competition with her to be our children’s mother. While I am to some extent uncomfortable with the male-centric nature of being a capital-F father, my kids don’t deserve to lose their father in order to bring me peace. We’ve found, they and I, a comfortable median on that point. But I still don’t overly enjoy the traditional cultural trappings of fatherhood.
By contrast, I envy – in the broadest general sense – those who got to enjoy the experience of being a mother and I’d be lying if I denied there wasn’t some part of me that resented that loss. I think that’s true for the big majority of trans women, many I know are far more maternal than I’ve ever been.
But that doesn’t mean I want to be THE mother to my kids in replacement of the mother that gave birth to them. I’d consider that a criminal imposition on her rights. But still, if the subject gets too close to her mind it no doubt worries her a good bit – does my transition seek to take from her all the female roles she plays in our home including that one. She has every right to jealously defend that turf. I’m not telling you this has been a source of conflict in our home – it hasn’t. But i can see where a trans woman who was less sensitive to the dangers might cause such conflict to occur.
The basic concept though, goes well beyond my own subjective experience. Trans women, speaking generally, are jealous of all the typical experiences of womanhood, from the first date to the proposal to the wedding dress to the delivery room and beyond. If they have children they’ve shared a big part of their lives with a person who’s had all those experiences a (rightfully) took them as a matter of course. If we’re not careful we can end up crowding her space on some things that she’s entitled to.
On the other side, no matter how much we protest, it doesn’t take much for her to worry that deep down we’d like to take her place as mother. So when Mother’s Day arrives there’s a lot of potential for hurt feelings and emotional bruises.
I’m aware that there are not a few couples who’ve successfully negotiated this mine field, and they find a way for the kids to acknowledge their trans woman parent on Mother’s Day without slighting Mom, but I’m going to be bold enough to say that they didn’t arrive at that place without many tentative and ginger steps.
So, Ladies, if it hasn’t occurred to you or you haven’t yet faced the issue, be sure and respect mom’s turf. If you don’t you may so a seed of (rightful) resentment.
Photo by: wackystuff