A couple of weeks ago, a guy kissed me all sloppy with his mouth wide open, tried to take my shirt off, and then barfed into my hand, which I promptly wiped on my jeans. As it turns out, that is not the only way my life as a new parent closely resembles my life as a college student.
This is Offbeat Families's archive of Identity posts.
Explorations of how our pre-baby identities shift and morph and blend into our post-baby realities.
When I think about being a grandma, I feel like I should be older, more patient, have money, be able to spoil him, take him places. Instead, I walk with him and his aunt to the park. I drag them to the library because "grandma loves books." I play music loud in the car and plan my next tattoo. All things I guess grandma's don't do. Or maybe they do. I do anyway.
I have a hard time explaining to non-transgender people how I knew I was male from the start; I just did. I sometimes ask them, "How do you know you're male or female?" Often, they go quiet and look stumped, because they can't answer it either. Most people seem to just know, right? You can't pinpoint what makes you feel that way or when exactly you realized it, can you? You likely always just knew.
It happened when I was 18. I was going to an all-girls Catholic college, and one morning — a particularly chilly late-autumn morning in Massachusetts — I looked up at the chapel, and I couldn't feel him. He was gone. It took a bit of adjusting. For 18 years I'd believed in him. To just stop, well, it was jarring.
Thanks to my son, I've now got a better understanding of who I am and why I should be proud of it. You won't hear me tell my boys that I'm fat, or unhappy with my body because I've truly learned the value of self image. I still watch what I eat and exercise, but it's not to change my physical self. It's to stay fit and healthy so I can keep up with these boys.
I've always been firmly in the "no kids" camp. When I was 12, my mom took me to meet her gynecologist who became my gynecologist. When I was 16, this gynecologist and I made a deal that if I still didn't want kids when I turned 25 he would tie my tubes. My long-term first boyfriend and I got pregnant at 17 and we decided to have an abortion. He was going away to school in another state. I could not raise a child alone. It was for the best. Neither of us regret this decision. He's now happily married with two kids. I'm also happily married. Yay!
The other day, I got fat-shamed. When you get fat-shamed often, like every time you turn on a television, it takes a lot to make an impact. My husband, Chris, and I went to our city's second annual Afro-Centric Pregnancy Fair in Portland, Oregon. I had high hopes of being in a supportive environment of people who care about the unique challenges facing black women as they enter pregnancy, childbirth, and childbearing. I fantasized about talking with midwives, doulas, and new mothers about their amazing experiences and horror stories of hospitals, birth centers, and their living rooms. Instead, I got a major dressing down by a black doctor manning an information table for a clinic.
I do know that I will love my child, and so will both sides of the family, Deaf and hearing, regardless of whether they are born deaf or hearing. I know that we will adapt and I will, along with the child, learn better communication with everyone. I know this child will be a joy and a terror. This child will experience love and loneliness no matter where they go in life, and I will try to teach them to embrace the good and bad, and to accept or fight against certain situations. I try to explain this to my partner, and I try not to worry.