What You Call Amazing, I Call Parenting

We have been incredibly blessed by an enormous show of love and support since our daughter came out as transgender two years ago. Whenever I speak at an event or lead a workshop and share our story, I’m told how wonderful I am as a person and a mother. I mean, don’t get me wrong, that’s nice and all. It’s more than nice — the support is incredible, but it also feels a little strange.

2016

2016

When we first posted the news of Rebekah’s social transition (i.e. her changing her name and going by female pronouns) on social media for our family and friends, I remember reading the comments with Rebekah. Among comments about her beauty and bravery (both of which she has plenty!), these comments kept popping up.

“You guys are amazing parents.”

“Rebekah is so lucky to have you as parents.”

“The world needs more parents like you!!!!!”

“Can you please give parenting lessons?!”

No. Seriously. I’m not even kidding with that last one. Clearly, they don’t know us that well. Rebekah eventually said, “well you’re not that amazing”. HA! Leave it to the kid to tell it like it is. But she’s right! We’re not that amazing.

Now, let me be clear, I’m not knocking anyone who said any of these things. I am absolutely bursting with gratitude and love for this village who has our back. I know life would be very, very, different for us and Rebekah without them. And I try to graciously accept compliments on the way we are navigating these uncharted waters.

Rebekah (age 11 months) with me and her father

Rebekah (age 11 months) with me and her father

But here’s the deal. What you call amazing, I call parenting.

And it’s not even the hardest part of parenting. Hard is trying to figure out how to best educate my kids. Hard is dealing with autoimmune disorders and symptoms of ADHD. Hard is trying to meet the unique needs of three very different children. Hard is parenting while fighting my own anxiety and depression. Hard is watching your child struggle with those same illnesses. Hard is somehow trying to do that while modeling any amount of love and grace. Hard is keeping my cool when I’m tired and my bucket is empty. Hard is figuring out how to fill my kids’ bellies and bodies with nourishing and nutrient dense food that helps them thrive. Hard is doing all that while being oh-so-very-sleep-deprived.

Do you know what’s not hard? It’s not hard to support our daughter in her affirmed gender identity, loving and accepting her for who she really is. Listening to her and respecting that she knows who she is better than anyone else ever could has never been the hard part.

Our family 2015, just after Rebekah transitioned.  Photo credit: Maegan Dougherty

Our family 2015, just after Rebekah transitioned. Photo credit: Maegan Dougherty

Now, I know we will encounter hard stuff, situations and decisions, as a result of our daughter’s gender identity. There are medical decisions. There is advocating for her rights. We know the challenges facing the trans community are not small. We’ve done some of that, and we know there’s a lot more to come. But the decision to love and accept her, well that wasn’t even a decision. It was a given.

We’re just parents doing the best we can for our kids, like every other parent I know. Wading through the hard and the messy, screwing up often, apologizing at least as often, and trying again the next day.

If you want to call it amazing, go ahead. Then again, if we’re amazing for the love and support we’re showing our daughter because she happens to be transgender… you’re amazing for the love and support you’re showing our family because we happen to have a transgender daughter. So thank you for being amazing.

In the end, I want to live in a world where none of it is amazing. I dream of and hope for the day when it’s no longer extraordinary to affirm, support, and love your child for who they are.

Originally published on Medium June 5, 2017.