When I was a little girl, I had friends who would dream about what their life would look like when they got older. They would spin tales about fairy tale weddings, right down to intricate details of the dress. By the time we were in high school, they had a plan for their lives mapped out that included college, careers, spouses, and children. Meanwhile, I was still trying to sort out who I should sit with at lunch.
I never had a plan for my life, which, considering how my life has unfolded, turned out for the best. However, as each new stage of my life has presented itself to me, I've expected it to continue a certain way. These expectations, right or wrong, were based on societal norms and ideas I picked up from television, magazines, and other forms of media as I grew up.
All of this unraveled when my son came out as transgender. I've written before how when your child transitions, it impacts the whole family, but what I didn't understand when my son came out was how it would change how I viewed the idea of family.
Jeff Goins wrote, "What happens when the life you end up living doesn't look like the one you planned?"
You don't plan to wake up one day and learn that your child is transgender. To find out that you no longer have a son and a daughter, but two sons, or to learn that you have two daughters and a son instead two sons and a daughter. No one plans to have their family configuration reshuffled and rearranged and to have to continue forward as if nothing had happened and everything is the way it has always been.
You can't plan for that. But you can respond in a way that is loving and supportive.
Our expectations for our children and what we think our family should look like are what lead to disappointment when they turn out to be something other than the vision we have in our heads. It's only later that we realize we shouldn't have had those expectations.
Adjusting to a new family configuration takes time and can come with many emotions. Often, it involves reimagining the hopes and dreams we hold for our children and their future and rethinking the life we envisioned for ourselves.
Life doesn't always look how we expect it to, but that doesn't make it a bad life.
Change can be uncomfortable, and major upheavals take time to get used to. Give yourself the time and space you need to adjust to this new way of being. Be patient with yourself and your child as you find your way forward.
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