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.
I love your blog, you are a truly beautiful person.
beautiful. you should be proud of yourself and your son<3
awwww… just read your book and hopped on here to see where you’re at now. Wonderful 🙂
As parents it’s our job to worry but you have to take everything as it comes. You are doing the best and all you can. Your awesome !!!😊❤
I love, love, love how having CJ has helped you evolve over the past six years. and how your view of him and your lives has changed so much. I can relate.
Because of my son, I’m in a very different place than I was six and a half years ago when I started my blog. I’m still working on not worrying so much about my son’s future, but this past year, with his body’s hormonal changes of being 13 and then turning 14, new life challenges popped up that just about broke me. Now, our lives are headed in a very different direction, and things aren’t nearly so scary, and it’s because I had to change my way of thinking and my expectations for my son. (He’s not gender creative, but rather has issues that affect his brain).
I love every column that you write, but this one has me hopeful. My son is 7 now, and ever since his 4th birthday party, which was Disney Princess themed, we have been walking our own path as well. I need to remind my son tomorrow, as he heads off to school in his new pair of pastel rainbow, glitter, “girls” Skechers, that no matter what happens, we’ll deal with it. Thank you for all that you have shared with us, teaching us, making us smile, laugh, and cry with your family. Thank you for showing us all that having a gender non-conforming child is such an incredible blessing, and despite all of the bumps in the road, we can come out on the other side with a smile on our face.
There is an episode of RuPaul’s Drag race where Adore Delano asks Courtney Act, as they prepare for the final challenge, if she is worried about it. To which Courtney replies “What actually is the function of worry?”
I posted about that one here:
i love this..thanks for sharing..keep blogging..will be following u..😊
6 years?!?!? Where does the time go?
such a great story it has really inspired me.
I have followed your post for six years and I would love to follow it for six more if you want to share with us. I love your family so deeply, and you are such an inspiration. When I started reading this blog, I was in college studying education, and a project on gender identity in the classroom led me to your blog. Now I am a preschool teacher and I see children like CJ and children like Chase and all the beautiful rainbows in between when I work. I am so, so, so happy you have found more peace and joy in your life with your babies. I am so happy CJ and Chase have such wonderful, smart, loving parents. I am so happy we can work together to fight the wrong and the hate and make the world safer for our children. I hope 2017 brings you lots of light and happiness, and I hope you share this with us as you want ❤
I’ve been enjoying and loving your blog for quite a while, but this prompted me to respond. I’m an ASD mom and have worried since my son was diagnosed. (Coincidentally he’s also 9) I’ve worried about his being accepted by peers, worried about how he’d be out in the world, worried about how others would treat him. And just recently I’ve learned what you have: to enjoy my son and know whatever comes his way I will help him deal with it. It’s a hard lesson to learn but one that is incredibly freeing and beneficial. Thank you so much for sharing – all the growth and journey.
❤️ What a beautiful step in life to see your son first. Gender non conformity, hmmm never once, growing as a child and into the feminist movement, did I ever consider a tomboy, a girl who played baseball, build forts and found frogs with, a gender non conformist. I just saw a girl who knew she enjoyed the same things I did, but a also didn’t consider my self much of a boy.
Amazing ! We try so hard to protect them from everything we can. With you by his side, the two of you can conquer any and everything that comes your way
Beautiful post. Love is the way and “we’ll deal with it” is a great motto.
I am new to the blogging community and this is the first post I have read from you. I enjoyed how eloquently and authentic you are in this post. I look forward to reading more from you!
I loved this post! As always you express yourself so perfectly! You are an incredible mom and have brought forth an understanding of what gender non-conforming is…to so many people around the globe. Bravo to you and your husband and your two wonderful kids! Your family is a great example of how it should be! I look forward to reading more in the future.
Thank you for your blog! I started following years ago. My child is now 25 and is gender nonconforming. My child is the fifth and the baby. As an infant, I was quite sure there was something different but never figured it out. I am 65 now and was in my late 30’s when he was born. Growing up female was very difficult for my child as she identified with everything male from toys, sports, clothes, emotions, personality traits,etc. When she was 18 she came out as lesbian which I was completely prepared for and a short time later, it was revealed that she indeed was gender nonconforming. Our love for this child superseded all thoughts and feelings we had to deal with. It never crossed our minds to dispute the facts but gave our unconditional support. Almost ten years later, we are a family that is so grateful for our gender nonconformist who is a great son, brother, and uncle. He is loved very much! He is carving out his life and has a partner. He works has lived on his own for ten years and is continuing education for a degree in architecture. He finds favor wherever he goes and people seem to gravitate to him. I am glad we did not overprotect or apply undue pressure to conform by the conservative standards and beliefs that we lived by. I do worry everyday for his protection and the future that he may have. I hope that society will come to understand that this is not a choice but it is who they are. I tell people that it takes a great deal of courage to be true to themselves. They know the what the cost is and it is not easy.
This is destined to become a classic post, Lori. Thank you. All the best to you and yours.
You are doing a great job and I thank you for sharing your journey with us.
This has really struck a note as I hit our one year anniversary of my 18mth old son’s first major food allergy episode that resulted in him needing to be hospitalized. The past year has been full of worry and what if’s. I’m going to re read this and read it to my wife and work out how I can respond better to my worry and fears around his food. Thanks heaps!!
I am so happy reading this post, it sounds like you all in a great place. I appreciate you continuing to share your story and your wisdom And I agree being in the place where you just see your child as themselves.
I have been following your blog on and off for these past few years and you continually inspire me – so thanks eh
This post is so helpful in so many ways–just today I was worrying, worrying about our daughter and her future (in relationship to her cognitive and motor delays)—imagining all sorts of awful and dreadful things—none of which allowed me to enjoy her as she is here with me today.
Thank you SO much for this reminder to enjoy the present and not let worry steal my joy!!!
I really need to start thinking that way whenever things don’t always go the way I expect. It would definitely make life easier, maybe help me worry less.
I look forward to reading this so much, even though as a transgender I envy CJ for having such wonderful parents. I’ve been living as a female now for 20 years and my parents have yet to call me by my now legal name. I’m not allowed to visit unless I go back to being who they expect. It seems as they get older they get more prejudice towards GLBTQ people. I sent them your book, my mother cried and acted as if I wounded her, then she sent it back. They have no interest in my life at all anymore. It’s really sad. Your blog is a lifeline whether it’s about CJ or not. Please keep writing even if it’s only about the beautiful sunshine outside your home windows. You’re such a blessing!
Georgia, as a mother your story makes both sad and angry. I don’t understand how any parent can not love their child just for who they are. I know you don’t know me, but I am sending a heart full of love out to you, wrapped in an enormous hug. You are you, you are wonderful, you are enough.
I’m so sorry that your parents have treated you this way. How old are you? I can be a stand in mom if you would like. You deserve so much more.
You are in such a great place, it’s awesome to hear! X
I’m glad you have less to worry about now and I’m also glad I’m not the only one thinking “what do I write about now?” I look forward to reading more of your posts 🙂
Wow. You have just given me the best advice. Thank you for this. *tears*
I have always loved and enjoyed your blog, from the moment I first read it. I’ve smiled, I’ve laughed out loud and I’ve even cried (mainly happy tears) as a gender conforming gay man, who’s never done drag (only because I’m the wrong shape to be Jessica Rabbit & the cost of wigs, makeup etc just looks like a LOT of G&T’s marching out my wallet!) so- I digress… CJ is one amazing child, and I look forward to the future, purse first! I’m not sure if CJ realises what remarkable parents you are… if he doesn’t- he will! I feel sure that when you look at CJ you know that you have a remarkable child- but I hope that in the future you have a lot of Pride when you realise you also helped CJ be the remarkable adult CJ will be!
You- are AMAZING and you deal with it! xxx
What a wonderful mother you are and I love and echo all the positive comments posted above.
You always make good points. I particularly like how you have documented your growth through accepting, supporting and understanding your gorgeous son, C.J.
I particularly love that God created him exactly as he is in such a loving and supportive family. Without his gender creativity many lessons would not have been learnt by so many people who love the Duron’s – Lori, Matt, Chase and C.J.
My hope is that transgender people, from gender creative people to transsexuals like myself, will help the world to finally just see EVERYONE as a valuable human being simply because we exist. And as you so well describe – to finally see the person and stop seeing the difference. In short it means to stop seeing people in judgement. For me, it was my love of Jesus Christ that brought that happy way to really see people. I’m far from perfect of course but the ability to correct myself when I’m getting it wrong is a wonderful gift.
Love and hugs to you all, Steph xxxx
You’re amazing. I’ve been following you for a few years now and I am so happy for your family. Parenting: you’re doing it right. ❤
I’m hope you kept the wone and chocolate while you dumped the worry, though. 😀 Take care!
Yes, I do believe that is the only way to wholeheartedly parent a gender non conforming child. When you stop seeing a gender and what is or is not there, and start seeing a child. Nothing more, nothing less. That is when the magic happens. My Dylan is just… Dylan. She is simply IS. When we stop defining ourselves as our circumstances, we open up endless possibilities. Don’t we ALL deserve that?
Another great motto I’ve followed on life is, “It is what it is.” Whenever something unexpected happens, I think it is what it is. We must accept what has occurred and consider our next actions. Then as you say, “We’ll deal with it.” What other realistic choice do we have? Hope you and your family had a great holiday and have a happy and healthy New Year. And I love the wonderful pictures of the boys.
What a great motto for life: We’ll deal with it.
I really love reading your blog. Your insight is spot on, and it’s good to remember that no matter what may come, we’ll deal with it. I to am extremely anxious about what our future government will be like, but I’ve tried to concentrate on how to help those that might be the most marginalized. I will stand up for love! ❤️
It has been very interesting to follow your journey – – not to mention very educational and has made me a better, more aware, person for it. I wish we did a better job of teaching our kids at a young age to naturally use the “what if it happens….we’ll deal with it” philosophy ~ it would make adulting so much calmer! Thank you so much for sharing.
Totally get it. When I first started blogging it was more or less a dumping ground for all my anger, tiredness and fretting. It has evolved into kind of mundane day to day diary of our lives. It was all worry all the time. I thought I was the only one who “Sometimes I’d catch myself not worrying and then start worrying about what I was forgetting to worry about.”
I’m so happy for both you and I that we are not in that place anymore. These are our kids and we dealt with what was thrown at us and now we are just living and loving in the now.
I agree with Ed above though – I hope you don’t stop writing. I see my blog now as a gift to my kids for when they are older should they ever want to read it. xo
Great, GREAT post. Thank you. I needed this today as a reminder. I’m so grateful for this site and for you sharing your wonderful family with us.
I am happy to hear your not worrying as
much anymore. I do hope you will continue
to write this blog throughout CJ’s high school years. Who know at some point he might follow in your footsteps and start his own blog. How were your holidays? Wish the entire family a Safe Healthy and Happy New Year.
Beautiful. These words are precious – you’ve taught me a lot of life. Thank you.
What a beautiful letter. I also have a gender nonconforming son, age 14, Kevin. It is so comforting to read your blogs,you truly have a gift .I loved the last paragraph ,I too would worry. Kevin has taught me to worry less and embrace his gift of individuality.
Keep up the good work,mama !!!
Thanks for the great reminder (and lesson) for all of us, no matter the context that is our life.
What a lovely post thanks for sharing it.
Beautiful post, just absolutely beautiful! I am not sure at what year I started to follow your blog or how I found it. But I must have found it due to my own worry for my son. He is now 9 and we have grown together. He has found his own path in life, with his family having is back as well. The best part of the journey for us was when my husband could deal with his gender creativity as well. It took a little bit longer then for me, but now we all have his back. I am also a worrier and that is why this post just rang so true for me. I no longer worry the same way, first and foremost because I see that my son can handle it. It stills hurts him that people say stuff like “girl” behind his back, but it doesn’t change the way he dresses, keeps his hair or his interests. He just says as a matter of fact “you thaught me that it costs to be different, mum and that is just the way it is” (costs is not the right word, but the saying is not in English)