Six years. It’s been six years since I launched this blog. My gender nonconforming son was three at the time. He was newly potty trained, loved the Disney Princesses and had a limited vocabulary. Now, he’s a nine-year-old fourth grader who loves drag queens, Andy Warhol and who talks nonstop.
If I listed all of the lessons I’ve learned during the last six years, it might take me another six years. The biggest lesson I’ve learned? To stop worrying.
I used to worry so much. As much as you all read my worry, you’ll never know how much worry truly engulfed my heart and mind.
I worried about what other people would think about C.J.’s gender expression and identity. I worried about what they would say to and about him. How they would react to him. How he would be treated at school. What his future would look like. What we would do if he identified as trans. What we would do if he came out as gay. I worried about my obsessive worrying. Sometimes I’d catch myself not worrying and then start worrying about what I was forgetting to worry about.
Then, our gender therapist helped me manage the worry.
Whenever I shared a worry with her, she would say “And then what would happen?”
My answer was always “We’d deal with it.”
Me: I’m worried the kids at school will make fun of C.J. for wearing girl clothes.
Therapist: And, then what would happen?
Me: We’d deal with it.
More often than not it took many more “And, then what would happens” for me to get to the “We’d deal with it.” But, I always got there. Always.
(If your answer isn’t “We’ll deal with it.” If your answer has something to do with being embarrassed by your child, loving them less, resenting them or wanting them to change, you need help. I don’t say it in a dismissive way. I say it earnestly. Please, seek help. From a supportive friend, a therapist, PFLAG, an online community, books, blogs, anywhere safe and trusted.)
So, if I’d always deal with a worry when/if it became a reality, then why was I wasting my time and stressing myself out worrying about it prematurely? Worry doesn’t prevent things from happening; it just prevents you from enjoying the good things that are actually happening.
When I stopped worrying, I started enjoying the colorfulness of my unique son. That’s when life got happy.
The beginning of this parenting journey and this blog was fueled by worry, wine and chocolate. My busiest blogging hours were in the dark of night – with the kids in bed, Matt at work and worry as my bedfellow. That’s not my life anymore. Thank God.
I don’t spend my days defensively traveling ahead of C.J. making sure the path is clear, safe and prepared for his rainbow arrival. I’m done with that exhausting rigamaro. I no longer live life ahead of my son; I live life with my son.
I’m no longer hyper vigilant. I’m informative and matter-of-fact. I’m not angry about the way things are, I’m eager to change them for the better.
I’m sure of the things I need to know and do to address the challenges that come our way because of C.J. I’m sure of the resources available to us and how to learn what I don’t know. I’m sure of my son, myself and – most importantly — my parenting. Surety erases worry. Confidence is calming.
My son feels my surety and it’s good for him. In turn, it’s given him confidence and calm. He’s sure of who he is, his style, the village he belongs to and the family that has his back no matter what.
He knows that the answer to “what happens if….” is always “we’ll deal with it.”
While I try to live in a place that is worry-free, it’s a place that’s certainly worry-adjacent. I can cross the city line to worry-ville in no time. I just try not to unless it’s truly justified.
I don’t worry. I work. So that when something happens and I have to react, I’m prepared. I want to be prepared, not paralyzed with worry and fear. Now, I make the worry propel me into action. I’m worried about 2017. I’m worried about our future under the reign of the president-elect. But, I’m focused on spending more time acting and less time worrying. Action is productive, worrying is not.
The more I let go of worry, the harder it got to write. I don’t see blog posts as we live our lives, like I did six years ago. I don’t see his gender creativity as much. I don’t see his purse entering the room first. I don’t see his runway walk being practiced down the grocery store aisles. I don’t see his French braid and lip-gloss when I drop him off at school.
I don’t see those things, I just see him.