Mom of Boys?

For ten years, I was the mom of two boys.  I had it all sewn up: with birthdays just two weeks apart (oh, and seven years) I had the whole Bris thing down pat.  I knew how to change a diaper without being sprayed with a fountain of pee.  And the money I saved by having George (boy 2)  wear all of Harrison’s (boy 1) clothing which I had painstakingly packed away was nothing if not impressive.  Harrison’s toddlerhood (and, if we are being honest, early school-hood) was legendary in its wildness, it’s complete and utter boyness.  He was frenetic and inexhaustible.  He would commence being in motion no later than 6 a.m. and literally not stop until he eventually passed out after several hours of my (vainly) attempting to get him to bed.  My father used to laugh and tell me that he was “all boy”.

When George came along, he followed in his older brother’s footsteps: wild, exhausting and with unending energy, he, too, was an impossible toddler.  I was, ironically, far less concerned with George’s behavior, though.  By this time, Harrison had miraculously turned into a human being and chilled out to the point of actually being referred to as “a day at the beach” by one of his teachers.  So, too, I assumed (okay, prayed) would George.

As the mom of boys, I had a unique kinship with my friends who also gave birth to two penised children: we are (were?) a sisterhood whose daily life differed so vastly from our friends who were (are?) moms-of-girls and moms-of-one-of-each that we stuck together like glue.  We have (had?) an understanding of one another that often (okay, daily) allowed us the strength to get through it…even if only physically.  I recall my sister-in-law telling me that her singular goal during the toddler years of her one son (as opposed to his two sisters) was just to keep him alive:  his exuberant energy level had him regularly flying across the room to wreak havoc on something or another.  I dared to take it one step further and argue that my goal for my boys was to keep them alive, or, more precisely, to keep from killing them.

Despite their exhausting and unrelenting energy, I loved being the mom of boys.  Oh, sure, I was afraid of them much of the time, but not nearly as afraid as I would have been had they been girls.  I remembered all too well what it was like to be a girl growing up and had very little interest in living through it again.  No…I could do this boy thing.  For sure.

So what if my second son shunned the toy cars, transformers and the forty five million Legos I had stocked away?  Who cared if his costumes of choice required wigs and dresses as opposed to the ab-enhanced Superman costume?  And his drawing girls all the time?  Whatever.  I was a mom of boys, dammit, and had the penises to prove it.

I’ve always known that boys love their mommies.  (Much the way girls love their daddies.)  Explained by an amorphous blob that hovers somewhere between adoration and fear, boys just want to be with mom, be adored by mom and, yeah, probably want to sleep with mom.  (Crap, how did Freud invade this conversation?)  Not gonna lie: I liked our dynamic, and I loved being their Number One.

And then, in what seemed like an instant, I was no longer the mom of boys.  Just like that, everything I had lived through and, frankly, been preparing myself for was suddenly divided.  I was now supposed to switch gears and be a mom of a boy and a girl; a transition for which, I can assure you, there is no guide-book.  What the fuck?

It has been nearly a year and a half since George tearfully and bravely told me that “his whole life he had wanted to be a girl”, yet I still think of myself as the mom of boys.  I see a child who, in many ways,  looks so vastly different from sixteen months ago, yet so much the same: she is taller and has longer hair, but much of her personality is decidedly George.  I usually think of her as Jessie, but still sometimes slip and call her George. I get tripped up every single time someone asks me about my kids’ gender and never know how to refer to my second born when recalling stories from her first ten years.  I don’t consider her my son, or my daughter, really.  Neither feels right.  She is my child and I love her and he is my child and I love him.   It is more than semantics, for sure.  It is more than long hair and shopping in the girl’s department.  She has transitioned with little trepidation.  This mom of boys, however, is still trying to figure it all out.

23 thoughts on “Mom of Boys?

  1. You continue to challenge your readers as well as yourself as a Mom. Boys or girls or both they are lucky to have you as their Mom.

  2. Hey Jules,

    Do you remember when Alec and Jessie were toddlers, they walked all around the baby pool at the JCC and (to our complete horror) tossed every last frickin’ flip flop or shoe within reach into that cesspool? I had to climb in, fish everything out and apologize while all of those biatchy moms in the chairs watched and gave me the evil eye? OMG I still laugh thinking about it.

    I’m not sure why this blog made me think of that story but it did.

    Amy – xo

    Sent from my iPad

  3. I have 2 boys and 1 girl and I can definitely appreciate that “boys love their Mommies” . My sister, a mother of 2 girls, used to tell me that my son was like my boyfriend. He was, and he and his younger brother still are, all about Mama. My question to you is, did that mother/son relationship change as George transitioned to Jessie? Has the relationship become more like a mother-daughter relationship, which, although still one of love, is also fraught with seeming resentment on the part of the daughter? Just curious whether the dynamics of a transgender child reflect that of the physical gender or the emotional one.

    • A great question. It is hard to say, actually. Jessie is such a complicated (and fantastic) human being. Our relationship is very close, but not without complications – although I think those complications cannot necessarily be attributed to gender. Our dynamic is much as it was when she was George – but now I tell her when her hair looks bad!

  4. I always love reading your blog. This is a great and honest post. I can vaguely imagine what the transition has been like for you. I also have someone in my life who, less than a year ago, told me that they feel like they want to be the opposite gender sometimes. Only, it’s not my son; it’s my husband. It has been incredibly challenging at times, and it helps to read stories that are somewhat like my own.
    While I do realize that having a transgendered child is different from having a trans husband, the issue of sudden and major change is still the same.
    Love and light to you and your family. xoxo

    • Wow…I hope Connie (one of my favorite readers) will weigh in on this one. Connie is “your husband” and can speak more eloquently on that subject than I. Her story is a wonderful one and, when she reads this (which she will) I am sure she will let you know.
      My heart goes out to you. Just as people tell me that the could not imagine being in my shoes, I cannot imagine being in yours. I am honored to have you follow our adventure.

      • A flu bug was just getting its start on me when I first read this post, and I’ve had no energy to comment. My ears have been burning from the flu (literally), but also from my name being mentioned, I guess. Anyway, something made me feel the urge to read the comments, if only as another diversion from working on my tax return. 🙂

        “Feeling like (they want to be) the opposite gender ‘sometimes'” could mean so many different things. I believe that most people don’t give a thought about their gender 90% of the time, as much of what we do in our daily lives is not determined by gender or the “roles” thereof (I have not even felt human the last few days, let alone like a woman). I think that it’s more a matter of the intensity of one’s own gender identification that has an effect on the manifestation (or womanifestation) of those “feelings”. There are genetically-born females who may be tomboys or ‘girly-girls’, just as there are genetically-born males who may display varying degrees of ‘machoism’. The same applies for the transgender person, but with the obvious problem of dealing with the gender “switch” added.

        I have come to know scores of transgender women personally, as well as having familiarization with many more transgender people through my readings (including Jessie). Guess what; we’re all as different as are those in the general population! We are all, individually, dealing with life in general as would anyone else, and we deal with our gender identity individually, as well. Additionally, how we deal with that identity is constantly changing along with our relationships with society, family, and friends. A transgender person has a desire to be accepted and to feel to be a viable part of all of those relationships, just as have everyone. The intensity of that desire, when coupled with the intensity of gender identification, is what can cause such a problem for the transgender person and, thus, those relationships. Transition, I believe, is the intertwining of these relationships with the gender identity, and this transition belongs to everyone involved.

        I think that I have, through my past comments on this blog, explained much of my transition story and how it differs from Jessie’s. And, although Jessie’s (and Julie’s) not perfect, I can tell you that it beats what I went through fifty years earlier. There are things about all of us which can never be erased, not the least of which is the bond created between mother and child – whether that bond be affected by a real or perceived gender identity (which, in fact, could be the gender identity of the mother, as well – different topic(?)). Nor, I say, should they be erased, but, rather, EMBRACED. It’s how we accept those things from the past and apply them to the “now” that will lead us on to transitioning forward. For myself, I look toward that which will be coming my way even more than just my becoming looks (at least, as I’ve been told a few times). Now, if we can concentrate more on the “intertwing” of those “intensities” than such things as which is the appropriate restroom to use, we will all have a much easier and more meaningful transition of, and for, our lives.

        (Julie, you have my permission to give kantal113 my email address if she would like to contact me personally)


  5. I love reading your words of wisdom.I gave birth two boys and two girls,but my 8 yr old boy seems to be a mixture of both.He has the annoying “boy” energy,but only seems to like “girl”toys and shows.I have a strong feeling that he may be transgendered,I guess I will find out in the future.For now,I just accept him for him and let him enjoy his girl toys and hope he never gets bullied into stopping what he loves.

  6. Western language is simply inadequate in being able to provide the gender metamorphosis pronouns that would cover ‘before and after’ stages our children experience. If people ask me how my boys are, I now say, “Oh, my children are fine, thank you”, hopefully avoiding this issue and the whole (quite tedious now) conversation around transition. I think if they happen to see my MtoF child, then it’s pretty self-evident, isn’t it? I too, am a year and a half on from transition – my child is 8 – and I still refer to her as “he” in the years before we officially came to terms with her true gender. For me, it is all about her spirit and her essence. When I put my face really close to hers and look into her eyes, I don’t see her gender, I just feel and absolutely know that I am so priviledged to have her; my amazing, beautiful, sensitive and funny child. Best wishes and thank you for tireless blogs, from across the pond.

  7. Oh, I bet you’re still trying to figure it out!

    I mean, parenthood is an individual, complicated and different adventure every single day and nothing we’ve lived or read can ever prepare us for it.

    That being said, I truly admire your courage to acnowledge all these feelings and thoughts. I also believe you’re on the right track: our kids should not be boxed in a he/she category (or any other category for that matter), but recognized as individuals who are who are they are, period…jeez, I’m not making any sense but I’m sure you get it.

    Good luck!

  8. Mom’s have always been blessed with this some unknown energy which gives them the power to fight any challenge . I am glad you r so full of that . I am glad Jessie confronted her heart out & kudos to you for accepting it .

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