Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 127: Justifying The Journey

Mom (Me): Good morning Twyla. How’s your room?

Twyla (The Parent): Good morning Daphne. It’s very comfortable, thank you.

Mom (content): I’m happy to hear that.

Twyla: Had my younger sisters just been kind of… Floating loosely around the headspace? Wandering wherever without a space to call their own?

Mom: Everyone has plenty of familiar memories from the time they were dominant that I’m sure feel like home. Everything here is sort of a shared space anyway, so it’s not like they’re unwelcome anywhere.

Twyla (critical): A shared space that’s primarily your space.

Mom: I guess technically? Making an actual home for us never felt like a priority… All my girls were pretty busy anyway. They were all eager to revisit their memories and then visit mine to see how far we’ve gone.

Twyla (reserved): Hmm.

Mom (gentle): Do you not feel that way?

Twyla: Not exactly. I was dominant pretty close to the present time, and I kind of knew I was trans already, even if I wasn’t able to accept it. Besides, things changed pretty drastically when I arrived, so I don’t think your present memories are such a revelation.

Mom: How do you mean?

Twyla (deliberate): I mean… Becoming a parent really changed us, you know? It’s a deeply transformative act. Once I became a parent, I couldn’t really exist in the way that I was accustomed to anymore.

Mom: No, you couldn’t. Living with a baby means constantly being attentive to their needs. Upending your sleep schedule to match theirs, abandoning your own development to support your child’s. Your only reprieve came at the cost of your partner’s energy and attention as the two of you passed the burden of care back and forth.

Twyla: It’s the “always on” of the experience that makes it truly transformative, I think. It’s not something you can step away from when you feel like it might be too much, so… You change into someone else.

Mom (reflective): Someone who doesn’t have to step away. Someone who can manage the constant pressure.

Twyla: Exactly. That’s why you can’t really prepare for parenthood, not truly. You can plan contingencies for all manner of different specific circumstances, you can learn all manner of parenting skills, but being “on” permanently is impossible to conceptualize before you’re forced to do it. There’s nothing else like it.

Mom (hesitant): Well… There isn’t, but also there is.

Twyla: What do you mean?

Mom: I agree that the experience of becoming a parent is pretty unique among life experiences, and that the pressure of having to learn how to parent while also doing the parenting and never getting a break from being a parent is transformative. But there are other experiences that are all-consuming pursuits that you can’t turn off and end up changing you through to your core. You’ve even lived through one of them… Or rather, I have.

Twyla (disbelief): An experience similar to becoming a parent… Hang on, you can’t be talking about transition.

Mom (smiling): Of course I am.

Twyla (upset): The two are nothing alike! As a parent you’re responsible for the life and growth of another human being! A baby who can’t even look after themselves yet, and depends on you for everything! And once you become a parent, you’re a parent all the time forever, like we both pointed out earlier.

Mom (patient): When you transition you’re responsible for the life and growth of a human being too, it’s just that the human being is yourself. A trans hatchling can certainly look after themselves in some regards, but interfacing with the world as their authentic gender is still uncertain and fraught with stress. Life doesn’t stop as you try to figure all this out either, just as life doesn’t stop when you become a parent—you’re forced to figure everything out as you go.

Twyla (incredulous): Are you seriously suggesting parenting and transition are equivalent in difficulty?

Mom: They stress the body and mind in different ways, so no. But trying to compare stressors against each other is somewhat futile, isn’t it? There’s always so many other factors in okay that it’s nearly impossible to measure them objectively. On the other hand, finding similarities between stresses allows us to repurpose and reuse what we’ve already learned. The more similarities we can uncover between parenting and transition, the more of an advantage we have when approaching both.

Twyla (hesitant): Okay… I see the wisdom in that approach.

Mom: Besides, I still haven’t mentioned the one very clear similarity between the two.

Twyla: And that is…

Mom: This. Reparenting. Part of transitioning later in life meant reconnecting with and nurturing our inner child; the part of us that had a feel for who she was all along but never had the chance to express herself authentically. That girl has been stuck inside us all this time. A baby doesn’t have anyone but her parents to love and care for and support them, and likewise, our inner child doesn’t have anyone but me to love and care for and support her.

Twyla (hurt): That’s… I don’t know how to feel about that.

Mom (concerned): Why do you have to feel anything about that?

Twyla (pained): Bloom was inside me when I was main too, wasn’t she? She had to have been, even if she didn’t carry that name yet. I should have been her parent too, but I neglected her.

Mom: That’s not… I’m not trying to criticize you. We weren’t ready to understand ourselves as trans when you were dominant, and you were already raising one child anyway.

Twyla (insistent): Still, Bloom was inside me suffering all that time, wasn’t she? I should have helped her!

Mom (annoyed): You can’t beat yourself up for that! Accomplishing something doesn’t mean you’re a failure for not accomplishing it sooner!

(Twyla recoils from me as if slapped, and I find myself shrinking away from her as if I’d been struck too. Silence hangs ominously between us for several moments.)

Twyla (timid): That… What you just said. We still struggle with that, don’t we?

Mom (softly): Yeah, we do. It feels a little hypocritical of me to call you out on that, honestly.

Twyla: Right… I noticed.

(Neither of us can speak for a little bit.)

Twyla: So now what?

Mom: I don’t think that’ll be the last time that happens between us… And honestly, I want to make space for those moments.

Twyla: Of course, but how do we address them? This feeling of failure is clearly something you want to change about yourself.

Mom: It is, but speaking from experience, it isn’t going to get better just by recognizing that it happens.

Twyla (skeptical): Why not? Isn’t that how we’ve always addressed things we want to change about ourselves? We notice the thing we want to change, and then we choose to do something else.

Mom (weary): It doesn’t always work that way, unfortunately. There are things about us that seem to be resistant to that type of modification. It’s very frustrating.

Twyla (uneasy): So what do we do? Just leave it unfixed?

Mom (patient): We do this. Introspection, exploration, discovery. We mindfully investigate our life and our history and we process things as we find them.

Twyla: That feels… Really inefficient.

Mom: You sound like Aura.

Twyla (insistent): That’s not a justification.

Mom (defiant): I don’t have to justify this! I feel it’s valuable to us on its own. Besides, this kind of meandering, indirect approach has been very effective—it just takes time to show results. I’m not going to force you to participate, but I hope you trust us enough to try.

Twyla: Of course I trust you. You’re me. Though my question hasn’t changed now that I’m on board; where do we go from here?

Mom: One step at a time, Twyla. We’ve already started; we just need to keep a steady pace to make progress.

Twyla: Okay then… I’ll give the process time to work. Talk with you later?

Mom: Of course. See you at home.