Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fantasy Island

Holy cow-I feel like I've been run over by a truck.  This has been a  L O N G  week.  It feels like the last six days have taken two weeks to pass.  The stress, the worry, the close attention we must pay to most of DJ's waking moments is tough on Bulldog and me.  Forgive me for talking less about DJ today and more about being the parent of a child struggling with the strains of being transgender in our world.

We desperately love our children-that goes without saying.  Goodwrench, Romeo and DJ are the best kids any parents could ask for.  Most of us feel this way about our kids, and we are no exception, but that is not to say that our love for them doesn't come without a steep cost.  The cost is gray hair, wrinkles, stress, aching joints, financial strain, worry, more worry, and the feeling of being run over by a truck.  I wish the cost would be something like losing weight in my butt;  unfortunately, that is not how the world works.  As my father always used to say, "Who ever said life was fair?"

I have revisited in my head the details of what led DJ to her recent step backward.  Like many parents, my initial reaction is wanting to hunt down the person who hurt DJ and make that person pay, in some manner.  It's not rational-it's mother rage.  Fortunately, the more rational parts of my brain inform the parts that are in a rage that I need to take a step back and remember that these people who are basically shunning DJ are just kids too.  OK, OK, I know that what they're doing isn't right, but maybe they're at an impasse themselves.  The study of sociology and anthropology is quick to point out that people tend to gather in groups and then those groups tend to try to be as different as possible from each other.  DJ's group is not a very populated group;  for all intents and purposes, DJ's group is the size of a committee, while many teens belong to groups the size of congress.

Because DJ is transgender, she is on the fringes of most groups.  I hate it.  I don't hate that she's transgender, I hate that we, as a society, marginalize others.  Truthfully, I can't believe we've gone this far without major difficulty, but that may be because she's been rather sheltered until this semester.  When she first came out, she was finishing up her freshman year.  The first semester of her sophomore year, she was home-schooled, except for attending one class at school.   The second semester, she attended school all day, but spent only half of it in the regular student population, and spent the other half in the computer lab taking her advanced placement classes online.  This semester is her first semester back in regular classes all day and we made it three months before the pressure got to her.  I am not finding fault with DJ-I think she's done an admirable job of maintaining a standing position in spite of the drag of an ocean's current of misunderstanding and avoidance pulling at her.  But I am so discouraged with the world right now.

We try to shield DJ from much of our feelings because we know she doesn't want to worry us.  We try to shield her from our worry by trying not to look as if we are watching her every waking second of her day to be sure she is ok.  We try to gauge her mood, we try to distract her, we try to keep her busy and we try to monitor that she's eating well, all without her knowing that that is what we're doing.  And while I wouldn't trade a second of my life for a different life, ever, that is not to say that I don't feel like I need a break from the routine that is all encompassing of my time, attention and emotions.

I feel a bit isolated myself.  I don't want to unload on people, which is my problem, I realize.  I am lucky enough to have a few friends that I can talk to about this, however.  And then work is another issue-DJ will be missing some school, has doctor and therapy appointments and has medicinal and nutritional needs that we must monitor.  I'll have to explain any absences I may have but don't want to breach my privacy, yet I feel like an explanation will be required.

In short, a bunch of crap is settling on my shoulders and I am engaging in my fantasy of running away to Montana and becoming a waitress in a diner.  My only personal responsibilities will be to myself: showering, eating, getting to work on time, paying my bills (which are practically non-existant in my fantasy).  My only other responsibilities will be work related:  getting food to the handsome cowboys on time, cleaning their ashtrays and refilling their coffee cups without being asked, and with a smile, so I'm sure to get a great tip.  And then going home to my small apartment that takes 15 minutes to clean, getting a bowl of cereal for dinner and spending the rest of the evening reading, watching home improvement shows and perhaps having a glass of wine before bedtime.  It all sounds great, my little fantasy, until I remember that there is no husband and kids and that reading and watching TV every night can be boring and that no matter how great the cowboy looks in his Wranglers, that I would have no real relationships.  That small break from reality, my fantasy, reminds me of how much I love my life even if I need an occasional break from it.  The worry, the sadness, the necessity of having heightened awareness of DJ's every shift in mood-this will not last forever.  I have to give myself permission to wish we weren't in this current predicament of non-acceptance, and the fallout that ensues, while still recognizing that "we will get through this, together" (quoting Bulldog again).  In the meantime, I'll treat myself when I can-I'll let some of the household chores go for a bit, highlight my hair and get a pedicure.  This bump in the road is nothing that a little self-love and a glass of pinot grigio can't help.