I find myself thinking a lot about the opposing polarities in my life lately and how, while sometimes diametrically opposed, there’s often a deeper, complementary level. With regards to mothering Q, it shows up in the form of fear and embracing/being embraced.
Here’s what the fear looks like: When we’re with folks who have yet to see Q in a dress, I often approach the situation with trepidation. This, in spite of the fact that my boy prances in happy and full of confidence. I find myself, in spite of my desire to trust the goodness in people, in spite of the past showing me overtly the open hearts that people have, fearing their reactions. What will they think about him? More importantly, what will they think about me? Where are my boundaries? Am I trying to damage him somehow by “letting him get away with this?” Though I know on some rational level that fear like this is often unfounded, it remains.
Recently we were at a celebratory gathering and I saw someone who I had met years prior yet who had never met Q. She said, “You have such a beautiful daughter!” In my eyes, he didn’t look particularly girlish that day, but I guess his clothes were enough outside the gendered norm to code as such. My heart skipped a beat at this. I took a millisecond to take a deep breath and then smiled and said, “Actually, he’s my son.” She smiled and said he was beautiful. No judgment seemed to cross her face. I feared her reaction. I feared what she might say to others about me. No matter if/how I know those others. And I must admit that I noted that Q likes to push the boundaries of gender with his clothing. Did I say it to make it okay? To explain further? To make me feel better? To make it his responsibility? I’m not certain, but I do know that fear played a role.
The thing, though, that is funniest (when I really sit back and think about it) about my fear here is that, in our day-to-day lives, it is rather unfounded. We live in a community that embraces our family and a wide variety of identities, so Q isn’t so “out there” given the spectrum around here. The same can be said for his school. Our friends too; of course we are closest to open-minded, loving, and embracing people.
So why do I still carry this fear around with me? I think it’s because of the bigger world out there. The world beyond the boundaries of my city or outside the walls of his school. The world that is unforgiving when folks don’t fit into widely accepted molds. Particularly when those folks are boys or men. So that’s where the fear is from, and I think a little bit of it creeps in even if I’m in the presence of folks who I know do not fit that “bigger world” mold.
And I think the fear will always be there. It definitely diminishes each time Q is known and loved for who he is, as opposed to judged. So the fear and the embracing work off of each other and are, in the end, two sides of the coin.
More soon on specific acts of love and embracing towards Q – truly amazing!
And a not-completely-recent photo as I must find the battery charger….my apologies.