I had a very unhappy Mother’s Day.
I first freaked out about it about two weeks ahead of time, when the martial arts school where my kid and I take classes posted something about “bring your mom to class” the day before Mother’s Day. Oh right. That holiday. When no doubt some people are going to see me as mom, and wish me happy mother’s day or try to get me to join in activities like that – which is not only misgendering me, but reminding me of the traumatic things that happened almost seven years ago to bring my kid into this world, the very thought of which causes me nauseating waves of anxiety. That’s coming up. Yippee.
I made a post on facebook letting my friends know of my wishes regarding this holiday:
I’m just gonna put this out there, having seen something on …’s FB page that triggered it: Please DO NOT wish me a happy mother’s day two weekends from now. I know I acted as …’s mother for years, and there are probably some trans guys who appreciate having been mothers, but I am not one of them. I have never identified with that label or role and to have people associate me with it makes my stomach turn. So, just don’t. Save your congratulations for father’s day.
The responses were supportive, and one of my friends suggested coming up with my own holiday to celebrate parenthood. While I personally find it just as hurtful that to think I couldn’t or shouldn’t celebrate Father’s Day just because I’m trans, as that people might congratulate me on Mother’s Day because I used to live as a woman, I did see a need for the holiday. For those parents who don’t identify within the gender binary, who don’t see themselves as either mothers or fathers – they should have a day to celebrate as well. All Parents’ Day. It would fall halfway between Mother’s and Father’s Day. Around the time of
Maryland Deathfest Memorial Day weekend.
Before that, though, Mother’s Day happened.
Not long after the Facebook post, my kid mentioned Mother’s Day, and I took the opportunity to remind her that I’m not a girl and therefore not a mother. I thought she got it. She calls me by male pronouns 100% of the time now, though I’ve given up on not being called mom.
The week before Mother’s Day, I spoke to my mom about it. When Mother’s Day came up, I said, “By the way, I don’t want any attention on Mother’s Day.”
She laughed and said, “I wasn’t planning on giving you any. You lost a holiday!”
I didn’t say anything about Father’s Day. There’d be time enough to work on that. I was just relieved she got it about Mother’s Day.
I didn’t even try with my dad. He’s rejected my gender entirely; how could I expect him to understand that I don’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day?
Funny enough though, out of those three, he was actually the only one who didn’t wound me on The Day.
I woke up on Mother’s Day to a card on my dresser. Why is there a card there?!?! I don’t get a card today. My stomach went hollow. I asked my girlfriend to open it. Of course I knew what it was; I could have just thrown it away without looking, but I had to know for sure. Who had done this to me.
It was a card with a picture of Olaf from Frozen and something about warm hugs, and my kid had scrawled something on the inside.
My kid. The only person who lives me with me who actually genders me correctly, and she had done this to me. And of course, she couldn’t have bought that card by herself, so my mom had been complicit in it too.
Gone were any hopes of blithely going through the day without most of my family calling attention to my “motherhood.” Of brushing off any remarks from my father or from strangers with a smile and a “Thanks, but no thanks. My holiday is next month.” Of letting the awkward burn in their faces and not mine, cause I know who I am, and they’re the ones making asses of themselves by making assumptions. No, now I couldn’t face any of them. I just wanted to stay in bed all day, away from everyone.
Two things changed that helped me get through the day. My girlfriend stayed with me till the afternoon. She was my shield. Had anyone in my family said anything else, I could have bitten back or made my awkward joke, because I knew at least one person knew me for who I really was. I wasn’t all alone. And then my brother arrived, and that made two people in the house who got it.
As it turned out, my father was the one who said nothing about Mother’s Day. And when I went shopping, none of the clerks did, either, even when I had my kid with me. Well trained, I bet. Making assumptions is rude and can hurt your business. Finally, at the very end of the night, as we were about to leave the restaurant where we had dinner, the waitress wished us a happy mother’s day, while looking right at me. I smiled and said nothing, and my mom said, “Thanks, and same you to. I mean, maybe…” Thanks, mom, for taking the awkwardness on yourself and away from the trans parent at the table. No, really. Thanks, mom, and I love you.
Then we went home and had cake, and the night wound down on a pleasant note. Another plus, there was not a word about Mother’s Day on my facebook wall. I guess my friends all got the memo. That was a relief.
The day started out rough, but ended up better than I expected. And better yet, it will never happen again. By this time next year, no one will mistake me for someone’s mother, and if anyone tries, I can and will laugh in their face.
Now, to start planning for
Maryland Deathfest All Parents’ Day…