When I gave birth to our second child, now almost three years ago, it was a really long haul, a somewhat early induction due to a rare and scary health condition (inductions are hard, early inductions are even harder). It took over three days. I did it without any pain meds (though by the end I damn well wanted them) which I admit, yes, sometimes makes me feel like a total bad ass. Everything turned out OK.
The doctor at the birth, who I loved, leaned down after our son was born, and whispered in my ear: “Now you can do anything.”
I talked to my little sister two nights ago. I talked to my parents last night.
For a little over a month, I’ve been avoiding the phone, sure that it would be my parents every time it rang. And I just didn’t see how I could talk to them. We haven’t spoken in over a month. Usually we talk every week or two, sometimes more often. For weeks before that our conversations were thin. They’d ask what was going on and I’d just launch into stories about the kids. Maybe a little about work. But it got to feel meaningless to even talk when I wasn’t saying anything about the questions sapping 80% of my energy right now.
I’ve known I needed to talk to them. I’ve been both preparing to talk to them and really trying to weasle out of it. Finally, they called, and I knew I was stuck. We talked last night. I couldn’t tell them exactly where I’ll end up. I didn’t ask asking them to change name or pronouns. But I did tell them where I am now, and that I’m not ruling out living as a guy, or medical transition, down the line. I told them I know we can handle this, that maybe we couldn’t 15 years ago when I first came out, but we can now. There is a part of me that is confident. Another part, though a smaller one, feels like that 18 year-old baby who nearly lost my family, who did actually lose them for a time, terrified it will happen again. That this will be it.
This is also what I told my sister two nights ago when I realized I couldn’t weasle out of talking to my folks. I wanted her to know so she could support them if they need it (she lives close to them). She’s an artist. She gets this kind of thing.
It was a total flashback to talk to her about this. When I was 18, she was the first person in my family I told I was queer. It wasn’t fair of me back then. I swore her to secrecy. Once I told my parents, she was still living with them, and she got stuck between them and me, trying to mediate something that really wasn’t her job to mediate. I shouldn’t have put that on my 16 year old baby sister. This time I made it clear it’s not her job, I’m a grown-up now, and I’m on it, but I did want her to know. She reminded my my parents are in a different place now. Unlike when I was 18, their church and friends are actually equipped to support them now. She also said that yeah, I really can’t weasle out of talking to them, that enough is happening that they need to know, and it’s way better to say something sooner than later, particularly for my mom, even if I don’t have everything figured out.
And my sister wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t really expecting it, but she wasn’t surprised. She immediately reminded me of stories from when we were younger, one I didn’t even remember, that I showed up home from college in the most threadbare bras, that couldn’t possibly have been doing any good, and that she and my mom nagged me incessantly to go shopping to buy a decent bra. I finally did, and pouted the whole time, not talking. She said this happened every time I needed bras. She asked smart questions. She listened and cried and laughed. She offered to go see my folks tomorrow on her day off. She said it’s the right thing to do.
And you know, my folks did OK. They listened. Their response was brief, they basically said that they love me, that they really are different people now, that they need some more time, and that they are getting used to doing impossible things (not just because of me, they’ve had a really rough few years on other fronts as well).
I think it might be OK. And maybe I can do anything.