Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 137: Self Definition

Twyla (The Parent): Hey Daphne?

Mom (Me): Good morning Twyla. What’s on your mind?

Twyla (cautious): This is a little embarrassing, but… I’m still having trouble figuring out what I should do with myself around here. I thought I’d talk to you about it.

Mom: Just to be clear, you mean aside from revisiting memories, right?

Twyla: Right, outside of that work.

Mom: It’s really up to you… What do you want to do with that time?

Twyla: I’m not really sure? I tried playing video games, but it’s hard for me to really get into them. I tried reading books, but I feel like I’m wasting my time… I even tried going for a hike, but just felt kind of empty. No matter what I do, none of it feels like it fits me.

Mom (curious): That’s interesting… We’ve always been an interest driven person, so I’m surprised none of our usual hobbies feel good to you. What exactly feels off about them?

Twyla: I don’t honestly know? It’s ironic, because during my time I would have loved to have an hour or two to myself that I could use any way I wanted. Now that I have that time, I’m not satisfied with anything.

Mom: Maybe it’s because you didn’t have that opportunity during your time. If I remember correctly, our attention was constantly divided, so we didn’t really have much chance to focus on ourselves…

Twyla: …And when I did get that chance, I always wasted it with idle pursuits instead of doing the things I wanted to do or figuring anything out for myself. I would just kind of… Lose sight of things.

Mom (frowning): I think you deserve a little more grace than that, Twyla. You were struggling through a stressful time in our life and trying to understand what it meant. You need time to process feelings like that, and if you don’t explicitly make time, your brain will do it for you.

Twyla (disappointed): I still wish I had better control over the process. Regardless, I feel like that struggle defined my period of our life… I was trying to hold onto the person I was. I remembered the stereotype of people who had kids and then put all of their self-worth into parenthood, and I struggled against being the kind of person who was a parent and nothing else.

Mom (subdued): Oh right… I’d nearly forgotten about that.

Twyla: It was at the front of my mind for years. I should point out that I don’t regret having children; I wanted a family, after all. I had a feeling that I’d make a good parent and I hope that’s still the case.

Mom: It’s a struggle sometimes, but on balance I think I’m doing a good job.

Twyla (satisfied): That’s good. I thought I did okay too, struggles aside. There’s plenty I hadn’t figured out though, like balancing parenthood with any of my other pursuits… And now I’m literally The Parent, like I’m stuck with that role forever.

Mom: Okay, let’s tackle that first. You’ll always be The Parent, and you’ll always be well suited to helping me be a good parent to others, but even now that’s not everything you are. The gift of this headspace is it gives you space to grow into more than just your role.

Twyla (unhappy): I still don’t know what to focus on though; nothing feels right.

Mom: Here’s the thing about that: You know it’s possible because I’ve done it. Granted, our child is older than they were in your time, and they’re a bit more independent. But I drove a lot of that change myself.

Twyla: What did you do?

Mom: I transitioned.

Twyla (annoyed): I should have seen that answer coming.

Mom (amused): Maybe. It was a substantial shift, and it came with a deep desire to figure out who I really am when I don’t have to maintain the facade of masculinity.

Twyla: And you suddenly had an abundance of emotional energy to spare…

Mom: I did, but that’s far from the whole story here. I didn’t wake up one morning wondering how I’m going to use all my newfound emotional energy to reshape my life… Transition kind of forced the issue.

Twyla: What do you mean?

Mom: You know about second puberty, right? It wasn’t just our body that changed; there’s a whole range of mental changes that go with it too, and they’re pretty similar to how our first puberty went.

Twyla (hesitant): So the way that teenagers can become really absorbed and obsessed with self-expression…

Mom (direct): Yup, I absolutely went through that again. To be honest, I might still be going through it? I’ve only been on hormones for a couple of years, and first puberty typically lasts several. Hormones are a real roller coaster.

Twyla (uneasy): You know, we used to get pretty upset when we heard someone blame a woman’s behavior on her hormones…

Mom: That’s still a dick move, but also, hormones absolutely can change our mood. And they do! You know our menstrual cycle gives us a brush with depression every month?

Twyla (confused): Menstrual cycle? But we don’t have a uterus. We can’t menstruate…

Mom (snickering): Try telling our body that. Those mood swings and cramps are real, and they’re a real pain in the butt!

(Twyla stands stunned for a moment.)

Mom: Well, pain in the side.

Twyla: I feel like we’ve gotten off topic.

Mom (embarrassed): Ah, I guess I got a bit carried away, but I think there’s some value in that approach. Try leaning into your femininity a bit and see where it takes you—ultimately that’s what led me to become the woman I am today.

Twyla: Worth a shot, I guess.

Mom: Besides, we can continue reflecting on your identity here too. Really understanding that question feels important, and I think it’s worth considering more than once.

Twyla: I guess? I thought I was here to help you.

Mom: We’re here to be a family. Family members help each other out, but it’s important for all of us to be our own people here too.

Twyla (skeptical): Except we’re all you.

Mom: True… But you’re also yourselves. There are differences between us that aren’t just a question of memories; we had somewhat different goals and different approaches to life, and I think honoring those differences is key to us becoming a healthy family.

Twyla (cautious): Hm, okay. I’ll try leaning into my femininity, like you suggested. But don’t expect me to suddenly be okay with calling you Mom.

Mom: Not to worry; that’s the last thing I’m expecting right now.

Twyla: Good.