My son's wedding dress

My son's wedding dress

I saw the dress my son wore on my wedding day, on the prettiest little girl with long curly brown hair, not much younger than he is now.

That could have been him.

I don’t think about it, not when I’m awake. Not when I’m in control and things are good and we’re happy and settled and the world is right.

Not until some sweet little girl comes bouncing around the corner at Chuck E. Cheese wearing my son’s wedding dress and I’m reminded, all over again of her.

The elusive, non-existent her. The her that never existed. The daughter I’ll never have and never had.


I miss her sometimes. Is that wrong for me to admit? I miss that spunky, sassy little girl that hated dresses and ribbons and bows. The little girl that had bruised and cut up knees and stubby fingernails and short hair by four. I miss her. Her. The her that never existed.

Most parents can’t imagine what it’s like to raise a trans kid. They can’t wrap their heads around the pronoun changes and the name changes. How a child that they brought into the world to the triumphant cries of “It’s This!” can suddenly become that.

But it wasn’t sudden. My son had been my son since the day he was formed in my womb. We had to catch up to him. We had to meet him on his road through life, not drag him down ours.

And let me tell you, it is a long and lonely road sometimes. A road full of hatred and bias and discrimination. A road full of shame and guilt and silence. A road full of fear and depression and despair.

A road that he’ll be on for the rest of his life, and one day, without me by his side.

Most days, these days, it’s beautiful. The skies are clear, the sun is shining. We have wonderful company at our side, friends and family and allies. We hold hands and we throw back our heads and we laugh in the face of our demons and life is so good.

Other days, like today, our demons get the best of us. And I’m reminded once again of this path that we’ve taken. By choice, yes, if loving my child unconditionally is a choice. I chose to listen to him, to value him, to respect him.

I chose to share his journey, because his journey wasn’t a choice for him. And if I stood at those crossroads a million times over, I would take the same path every time.

When that little girl skipped by, wearing my son’s wedding dress with the red flowers, I saw down the other. The path I didn’t choose. The path I never could have chosen.

I saw her. The her that never existed. Angry, reserved, depressed. Withdrawn, unfulfilled, unfinished. I saw my beautiful, spunky, sassy girl turn into a tortured, tormented person. Someone who hated themselves and hated the world.

And I knew, in that moment, it was never a choice. I never could have wanted her. Never loved her.

Because I love my son more.

This post was written as a part of ChicagoNow Blogapalooz-Hour Volume XXXI.  Our challenge this month was: “Write about a time you followed the road less traveled and it made all the difference.”

Don’t miss my video from Listen to Your Mother Chicago 2015  where I share my story of Jake’s transition.

Or come see me in St. Louis on May 7th.

 Interested in learning more about my son? Read Portrait of a Transgender Child.  You can read my latest post here: People who support Target deserve to be recognized. So that’s what I’m going to do.

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