Fighting for my child’s life … every day!

transgender allyI am continually left speechless by the situations I encounter on a regular basis. As a parent, I will never understand or identify with other parents who are able to turn away from their own children.

Doesn’t being a parent mean that you will love, support and nurture from conception until? Isn’t the very definition of parent synonymous with advocacy and guidance?

More than 20 years ago I gave birth to my first child at 29 weeks. Weighing in at a mere pound and a half, my sweet, precious angel was a fighter. From his first breath to his last, he fought to be here. I, as his mother, fought for his life; as his advocate, I fought every minute of every day. He needed me. How else would he get the medical intervention that he needed if I didn’t speak up?

There is section of Jewish teachings, called “Pirkei Avot.” This is loosely translated as “ethics of the fathers.” One of the best known questions posed by Rabbinical leader Hillel, is, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?” The last sentence should logically read who am I? But as Professor Louis Kaplan taught: “If you are only for yourself, you cease to be a real human being, and you become no longer a who, but a what.”

This is very powerful. As human beings, we should always be looking out for others. As parents, we have an obligation to look out for our children. What are we, if we cannot practice this basic tenet?

Regardless of what you believe, whether you are motivated by faith, guided by some spiritual beliefs or unsure of where religious teachings fit within your life, what sets us apart as humans is the ability to feel compassion and empathy.

What kind of parent turns away from their child? What kind of parent doesn’t fight with every fiber of their being to protect their child? What kind of parent closes the door on the most privileged relationship afforded by god?

I am angry. I am sad. I am shocked. I just don’t get it.

Why are transgender children left with no one to tuck them in? Why are they homeless looking for a roof over their head? Why are they killing themselves? Last week, three separate news stories reported the suicides of transgender teenagers. BABIES.

If you are reading this, please think about how you can be an ally to a transgender teen.

The trans* kids in your community need us. They need to know that people out there love them and accept them for who they are. They need to feel validated as people, as human beings. Isn’t that what we all need?

I am fighting for my son every minute of every day because I cannot imagine not loving him enough to want to be his advocate. So, I do what I do for all the Hunters out there.

Won’t you join me?

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Beyond Grateful

gratitudeAs we wind down the year, many of us take the time to reflect, take stock and in general, look in the rearview mirror. It is so easy to let all of the daily crap beat us down. Some days I don’t even realize that I am not standing up straight; it’s not until I stop and look in the mirror that I notice the hunched shoulders and defeated appearance. I have to remind myself to STAND UP STRAIGHT. Isn’t that what our mothers always told us?

I had no idea that life could be so complicated. I have to admit that there are some days when the thought of putting dinner on the table is just too much to navigate. Those are the times I am relieved that my son is not much of an eater. I could give him a bowl of cereal and a scrambled egg for dinner and he would be just fine. Of course most days I am stressing over the fact that he is too skinny. Our daily routine includes the question, “Did you eat (lunch) today?”

I worry about my business. I worry about paying our bills. I worry about everyone’s well-being. I worry about Hunter’s future. I worry about his school work. I worry about his mental health. I worry about my daughter on a big college campus without a support network. I worry about my dog getting loose and dashing in front of a car. I worry about my husband’s night vision while driving. I worry about solving a client’s marketing challenge. I worry about the fact that I am not exercising. I worry about the extra pounds I’ve managed to accumulate.

STOP IT.

We all have worries. I am not special, by any means.

What I can tell you, however, is that I am beyond grateful. I have a hard-working, loyal husband who is home with us every night and is here every morning when I wake up. I have a smart, funny, beautiful daughter who lights up my life whenever I am with her. My son is kind and caring and brave. He knows who he is and is learning how to go after what he wants. We have a dog that snuggles and plays and provides endless entertainment and love.

It’s been a year since we’ve been asked by our son to “call him Hunter…” A year of finding doctors and therapists and resources. A year of learning and growth and setbacks. We’ve taken baby steps forward. We’ve struggled with the outcomes of poor choices.

Through it all, we’ve stuck together as a family. We survived a tough year. I am looking ahead but not without appreciating where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. I am grateful.