The Best Laid Plans?

I am not a planner, but I do know that this was not the plan I would have made had I made a plan.  No, if I were a planner Jessie would still be George.  She would be a he, would have a short, appropriate haircut and be more interested in sports (or some other “male” hobby) than in sewing.  She would be jonesing for the newest Nikes and not the sale at Delia’s.   There would be no holes in her ears sporting shiny, dangling jewelry and I wouldn’t be forced to hunt in her room for my favorite brush.  Oh, if I had planned, things would be different.

It would be dishonest to say that the adventure Jessie has embarked on is an easy one.  Or even one that I fully understand.  I cannot claim to be totally comfortable with her choices of dress and hairstyling.  I am still, close to a year into it, sometimes caught off-guard by her decidedly female presentation.  I won’t tell you that it has been a joy to watch and that there are not times that I wish I had somehow “planned” better – for both Jessie’s path and my own comprehension of her needs.

Oh, if I had concocted a plan for her childhood, I can guarantee you it would not include a change of gender identity.   It would not have a line item for a name change.  And it would certainly not include finding myself writing a blog which is read by thousands of people, most of whom I do not know.

All that said, I am actually glad that I didn’t have a plan.  (I plan for nothing and live by my father’s credo that things have a way of working themselves out. I do not always execute the process with the aplomb that I would like, but I do let things happen organically…for better or worse.)   If I had indeed planned, I would be feeling like a failure (which I do not).  I would be ruing all the woulda, shoulda, couldas (which I do not).  And I would be doubting my parenting (which I do not.)

My lack of planning is not to be confused with a lack of expectations.  I certainly did not expect, even in the throes of the Barbie phase, that my little boy would become my daughter.  Nor did I expect to be not only living, but chronicling her transition.  When I fed a house full of people for my second child’s Bris and naming, I did not expect to be thinking about her Bat Mitzvah some day.  Likewise, I did not expect the outpouring of support from my friends, family and community when Jessie boldly made her announcement.  But sometimes reality exceeds expectations – and sometimes, not always, it is the surprises along the way that provide, in a backhanded sort of way, the joys of life…despite (or in spite of?) the bumps along the way.

When I look at Jessie I know that things are right for her.  For now.  I know that she is comfortable living her life as she has chosen.  For now.  And I know that she, like her mother, has not planned too far ahead.  She is taking this one day at a time and, in a sometimes Xanax necessitating way, I applaud her for her lack of planning.

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28 thoughts on “The Best Laid Plans?

  1. Dang I love you, Julie, though we’ve never met. I love your honesty, your bravery to put it all out there, your humility, and most of all, your ability to live in the moment and allow your daughter to be who she is rather than what you’d be more comfortable with – even in a xanaxed kind of way. She’s so blessed to have you as a mother — and that honesty is what will pull you through.
    ~ from a momma who is working hard to keep things honest and accepting, even if it’s not always easy to accept their choices.

  2. Hi Julie-
    Yup- man (or woman) plans and G-d laughs! I don’t even buy green bananas anymore! Planning is nearly always an energy suck and an exercise in fooling us into thinking we actually have some control. Not that we have no control, but we don’t have as much as we like to think. Planning is pretty much best used to keep our iCals organized. All the rest is fluff. XO

  3. Life is what happens while one is making plans for the future.

    We need to make some plans for the future, as Harrison is doing regarding college, but we also need to be flexible enough to accept the changes which life will throw at us at the same time.

    For now, just take life one day at a time and let her (and you) make plenty of good memories. That’s what life (and childhood) should be about.

  4. What an awesome post! You say it SO well. I always want to laugh and cry at the same time, though that would get a little messy.

  5. They say that life has many twists and turns and flexibility is the key to enjoying it. The “newness” of having a daughter now is understandable,but it is all working out.A whole lot better than having a confused little boy around…Jessie has found herself.Great job in supporting that.

  6. Julie, you have no idea the power and impact of your words as you write them. Thanks for saying it as it is…regardless of the circumstances and how similar or dissimilar they are to yours, your wisdom, honesty, and strength help me to cope and manage day to day. Today is election day, and I am crazy with worry about the outcome. I’m anxious, too, about college stuff and a host of other things, but you provide such a great perspective for me.. I feel so lucky to have access to your “voice” and to your thinking on a regular basis. It’s so empowering. BTW, I loved your last post about Halloween and Jessie’s choice of costume.. It said to me that Jessie no longer has herself trapped inside, screaming to come out. There’s some peace there for her. How great is that?

    • Wow – thank you, Lori. And as for the college stuff…I am with you. My father really did teach me (and truly believe) that everything works out and I (truly, most of the time) believe he was right.
      Here’s hoping the election goes the correct way.

  7. I’ve often thought that the term, “Planned Parenthood” is an oxymoron. Certainly, planned parent-ing can be. My second daughter, by the way, defied our contraceptive efforts, and, thankfully, is the result of our “best planned lay”. The joke is that her son was also a “surprise”. Both of them are free spirits, and planning anything for either of them would be an exercise in futility. This does not mean, however, that I don’t continue to have hopes, dreams, and prayers for their futures. Her childhood, especially the “formative years”, was challenging (mostly for her parents). My daughter has grown up to be the most amazing, caring and loving woman – much further along in those things than am I, at twice her age. These qualities do not come with a plan; they are results of living life openly and without reservation. If there is any planning necessary in life, it must be conceived and carried out from these basic human qualities. To do so can never result in failure. I believe that the “plan” (or journey, or, for you, Julie – adventure) has already been laid out for each of us. It is more that we open ourselves up to the possibilities than it is to attempt to manipulate our lives (or our children’s). Love is the best GPS, and it will ultimately yield much more guidance and a return greater than any human plan ever can. In other words, keep up the good work, Julie! xoxo

  8. I spend many a moment between 2 and 4 in the morning “planning”….can’t seem to help. Guess I’m paying that interest on that debt I may not own. But I often find myself seeing the approaching puberty of my daughter as if its a super storm like Sandy…with a confluence of chemicals, hormones and social challenges staring our daughter and family in the face. Yes, there’s no way to plan and our path is what it will be. But it doesn’t stop me from trying. Thanks for your eloquent words of wisdom.

  9. Julie, a member of my family recently came out as transgender. Reading your blog the last few months has helped me be patient and feel better about what we’re facing. Thank you for sharing your family’s journey.

    • I am so happy to hear this — none of us know what we are doing here and I know that I want (and need) as much support as I can get. Thank you for letting me know that I am a giver and not just a taker in that category!

  10. Thank you for being you!

    Until my child was 15, she was depressed, withdrawn and uncomfortable in her own skin. It was at that point that, she was brave enough to share with me the fact that she was NOT a girl, but a boy born into the wrong body.

    It was at that point that my daughter, Greyelle, became L and I had a son. I, like you, fully support my child and yearn to see a smile on his face above all else.

    I will not say that I am not still struggling with the pronouns that I use when referring to my son, or that I do not mess up and make him uncomfortable at times. I am, however, dedicated to learning how to show my absolute support for the strength and courage that he has shown by being who he is. If the world were only more like our children-brave enough to be who they are and be proud of it-there would be so much more happiness and less bigotry!

    Today, I was fortunate enough to see your blog. For that, I am so very grateful!

    Again…THANK YOU for being you!

    Jessica

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