By Lisa P.
I want to touch a subject that may not register with those of you who identify as crossdressers. You will probably be left scratching your head and wondering “what?” I have never seen it addressed here or on any related websites, so it may be unique to me. Yet, for those of you of the TG persuasion, perhaps this essay will not be read as tiresome screed.
Recently I have found myself attracted to the idea of motherhood – in a wistful, “not in my lifetime” sort of way. Whenever I see a pregnant woman, I inwardly celebrate for her (and I say a quick prayer for her and her baby). I sometimes go to sleep wishing I could have a dream about being pregnant. I also find myself wishing that I had the real opportunity to bear a child, especially when I spot a nice maternity dress or top in a resale store (or buy one by mistake, which has happened to me not once, but twice!). Actually giving birth would of course be physically impossible, as I was not born with the equipment necessary to do such a thing. Not to mention my age (heavens!). Yet, I must admit to a tinge of jealousy accompanying my wishing. Birth mothers have a connection to their children that knows no bounds. They are physically connected for 9 months and thereafter often remain connected for a year or more with nursing. I absolutely loved the soft skin and smell of my children and I adored holding them in my arms. My fondest memories to this day involved rocking my children in my arms as they slept. So, as a father, I didn’t miss out, and my now adult children and I have a strong bond. As between a father and his children, we are kryptonite.
Their mother’s bond is even stronger. She worries and thinks about her “babies” every day, and they know it. To me, that is something derived from giving birth to a child. Please don’t come after me saying that I am denying the experience of adoptive mothers and fathers and the way they respond to their children. I haven’t been there, and I cannot speak to their experience. I am responding to my observations about me and my wife, who birthed our children. I won’t deny that I envy her experience and that must be the root of these thoughts. I know she paid a heavy price for childbirth in terms of wear and tear on her body, but she came away from the birth of multiple babies with a connection with each one that is a wonder to behold.
Reflecting on my motherly qualities, I am reminded of a special gift that I have – getting out of control children to sleep. I am a bit of a “baby whisperer” in terms of my soothing singing voice, ability to spin a yarn and steadfastness in the face of recalcitrance. I also try very hard to be a good listener and mentor to others at work, and to try to figure out what they are feeling and what they truly need. That is not exclusively a motherly quality, I know, but most women do seem to meet needs in that way better than most men. Perhaps being a father was my minor league training for being a mother. I should add that I have an incredibly loving and kind daughter who is an ally to me. My hope is that when she becomes a mother she will have learned something about nurturing not only from her lovely biological mother, but also her transgender (transfemale) parent.
Let us not forget that even although it is difficult for transgender MTF women to become mothers (although some will become mothers by transitioning after they have become parents), that difficulty should not impede anyone from embracing motherhood. Many of us can and likely will want to be motherly as a way to fully express our femininity. Being a mother to anyone who needs a kindness, a warm smile, some handholding or a good word should come easily to those of us who have faced fear, reproach, rejection and inner pain, because we can empathize with others in need. Being a mother to those in our community would involve caring whether other persons are clothed and fed and have a warm bed. Being a mother to Mother Earth would involve feeling her pain when she is being abused, and coaxing her back to fuller life using all the tools available to us. Being a mother to ourselves would involve not judging ourselves harshly and accepting ourselves as we are.
While my mother was living, there was no one who advocated more strongly for me – as an English mother (just a wee bit repressed, the dear soul!) that is how she showed her love. Now that she has passed and I have accepted my feminity, it is time for me to take up her mantle, for myself and for others. Admittedly, I have a great deal of certainty that she didn’t want me to display feminine qualities. About me, she used to say “he’s all boy!” (I even heard her repeat that phrase after I had clearly become an adult male). When I related that fact to my endocrinologist, she said that her own mother had said that about her (now transitioned) daughter. That made me realize that my mother wanted to emphasize the boy part, perhaps because I was displaying decidedly non-masculine traits at times. My relationship with the memory of my mother is complicated by the fact that she truly did not do much to encourage my sister to do anything with herself other than become a wife and mother. What if she had accepted me as a daughter, but then held me back by insisting that the only appropriate role for me would be wife and mother? That would not be empowering, and I am all about the empowerment of women (myself and others).
So, please allow me as I complete these thoughts to mother all of you “young” women out there just a bit. Keep your head up high and be proud of who you are. Look around at the women you see, find some to admire and emulate them. For heavens sake, make sure you dress your age and don’t take unnecessary risks. And, be a mother to someone who needs you, for I guarantee you will find fulfillment. Try it and see if being a mother is something you were born to be. But, even if you were not meant to be a mother, make sure to follow your dreams, wherever they may lead.
Finally, when you want to care for someone, remember this — a mother must always think twice: once for herself and once for the person she loves.
I never said it would be easy!