It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for three years now. Back then, I had a three-almost-four-year-old boy who worried me because he liked everything intended for a she.
I started this blog to connect with other families raising slightly effeminate, possibly gay sons and to get advice from LGBTQ teens, adults and their parents about raising the next generation of the community. The first thing I learned from my readers is that my son’s effeminacy isn’t about his sexuality — it’s about his gender. If I had never started the blog I might still be trying to figure out that and so many other things.
I’ve felt a lot of anxiety during these three years. Risk has always been a negative four-letter word for me and all of this has felt risky: starting a blog; sharing a part of our family with who knows who; admitting that my son plays with “girl things” and “wears girl clothes” and that, at times, it made me feel uncomfortable; speaking out; writing a book; outing my family; learning to live without being ruled by fear; and beginning to advocate openly.
It would have been so much easier to spend the last three years working my day job, running the home, caring for my kids, shopping online, perusing the boredom trifecta of Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest; and learning new skills, like knitting or how to cook rice without a rice cooker. But, none of that would have helped me grow up and grow as a person as much as this blog, book and raising a child with unique needs have.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my life, my path, my family, my friends or the last three years. It’s been amazing and I’ve been blessed.
Four months ago, on the morning of September 3, I got out of bed, put on my new blue dress and tried to use hair and makeup, smoke and mirrors and compression undergarments to disguise the fact that I hadn’t been sleeping well and had been eating my feelings for weeks. I was preparing myself to be — the moment the cameras started rolling with me on the couch of The TODAY Show – to be the most hated woman and mother in America. It was a risk I was willing to take. Wholeheartedly.
I’d been watching for years as very vocal members of the public and media bashed, threatened and harassed moms like me; moms who are open about and unashamed of having a child who is differently-gendered and/or openly homosexual. And, I was next, I thought. I mean, I had taken some heat, but nothing compared to that felt by others.
Matt and I did our interview on The TODAY Show and no sooner were we off the couch than I received my first hate email resulting from the appearance. “Here it goes,” I thought to myself. Then came the emails of support and cries for help. Before the end of the day, I had more than 300 emails. And, as it has been since I started my blog, for every email of hate, I received dozens of emails from people who were glad they had found my blog and book.
I wasn’t hated, no, more than that, I was feeling the love. And, by revealing our identities, we had done a lot to quiet two large groups of our haters. Those who believed for years that my blog and family are works of fiction. We aren’t and we proved that when people got to see us in the flesh. Look! We’re real! We live and breathe!
And, for years I had people ask “where is this kid’s father?!” He’s right here, right beside on The TODAY Show couch, at most of my appearances, being quoted in interviews and writing a kickass piece for The Atlantic in which he clarified, “My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.”
I’ve gotten really good at ignoring negativity. And, there’s still a lot of it out there.
Do I read the comments made in response to what I write? Comments made on this blog? Yes, every single one. Comments made on other websites where my essays are posted. No. I can’t. It’s not healthy for me. And, I don’t publish the few, random negative comments that people attempt to make on my blog. I used to feel bad trashing the negative comments on my blog, like I wasn’t being honest or fair or giving everyone a voice or showing both sides of the story. But, you know what? It’s my blog. Everyone has a voice. I have one here. If haters want to be heard, they can start their own blog for me to not read.
This is the year when I realized that I’ve grown up a ton since the start of all this. At 36, I finally feel like a full-fledged grown up. I want to do something with my life when and where I can. At last, I proudly, comfortably, fell like an adult and, I feel like raising a child like C.J., writing this blog, my book and advocating are the main reasons why.
When I first started writing, I would be experiencing something in life and think “a blog post is happening right now.” That doesn’t happen as often any more. I have to be thankful for it, because it means that we are so totally comfortable with C.J.’s gender nonconformity that it doesn’t steal the spotlight, it isn’t a focal point, it doesn’t call out to get our attention and make us feel uncomfortable, worried, anxious or hope that others aren’t looking. It’s just a part of him. We have come to a place of total acceptance. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, I’m sure you’ve noticed it.
My writing style has changed, I’ve stopped using wit and sass to deal with my uneasy feelings about the many facets of his gender creativeness and I’ve just started being really, really honest about my feelings. I’ve become more sincere. Allowing C.J. to be 100 percent C.J., helped me to be 100 percent me.
With the publication of my book and coming out, I feel like I’ve aligned and merged the two lives I felt I was living. There was blog life and real life. Now there is just one life. It’s easier that way, isn’t it?
What’s next? This. This blog. This life. This family. And you, I hope.