Some seasons of our lives seem to drag on for what feels like forever, and others don't last as long as we would like them to.
My neighbor across the street has a maple tree in front of his side porch that had begun to die, and early in the summer of 2019, one of the local tree service companies came and removed half of the tree with the hopes that the other half would be able to flourish. It was an interesting idea to me - as that is a significant loss the tree suffered. How will it ever recover? I remember thinking. There are articles you can read about removing one side of a two-stem tree (which is what Maple trees are), and while it's not generally recommended, when one side is rotting, it is best to remove the rot before it spreads to the whole tree. As a result of this shock to its system, the tree began to change color much earlier that fall than usual, and when most other trees were starting to turn color, it was almost bare of all its leaves.
That fall, I decided, based on my own thinking (I'm not a tree expert), that the tree would suffer just for a season, and the following year it would likely regain its strength and begin to grow well again. Or it may take several years, but it wouldn't last forever.
That's the thing about seasons - even if they last longer than we expect them to, they don't last forever.
This winter, I thought about that tree a lot. I noticed that part of the tree on the removed side was dead, and I wondered how it would impact the other side. I thought about how it had been three years since the tree had been tended to by the tree company, and while it felt like a long time, its a flash in the life of a tree.
I thought about how winter felt like an eternity this year as I battled two rounds of Covid that lasted the entire winter. I've thought about that tree and seasons as the calendar turned to spring and how I still haven't fully recovered, and now a whole month of spring has passed. This season of being sick has felt like a lifetime, but in the span of my actual life, it's just a blip.
And while some seasons seem never-ending, sometimes, we find a season hasn't lasted as long as we hoped.
The time I lived with the idea that I had a daughter was like a season. And, considering it was almost 20 years, and I could live to be 80 years old, it was exactly a quarter of my expected life. So, if you think about each quarter of your life as a season, I lived with that idea for one entire season. And, like most seasons, it was over too soon.
Sometimes we get to the end of the season, and we're in a rush to get to the next one. Maybe we're excited about the flowers returning in the spring and warmer weather. In the summer, we look forward to slower days and vacations. Fall brings cozy sweaters and the thought of kids returning to school. And finally, winter ushers in a time to be alone and the holidays.
When we get to the end of a season, it's natural to feel like it went by too quickly. We can feel like there were things we didn't get around to, places we didn't get to, and tasks left incomplete. It's helpful to manage our expectations heading into a new season and reflect honestly about what we did and didn't do once we reach the end.
I believe the eighteen-and-a-half years I thought I had a daughter was the best gift my son could have given me.
I also believe that feels incredibly selfish and self-serving of me. Because I know now how much my son suffered for all those years while he was sorting out what was going on with his body and gender identity. But at the same time, I stand by how I feel in the spirit of full transparency and honesty. My experience as his mother isn't discounted by his experience. In the same way that I can't go back and change what I didn't know or how I didn't support him because of that, he can't go back and take away my experience of having lived as the mother of what I thought was a daughter.
It's messy and complicated, and while I've reached the point where most days I feel like I'm managing it well, some days I don't feel like I'm managing it all.
Maybe you feel that way about a season of life that you are in. Or one that you are leaving. Or one that you are just entering. And here's what I want you to know. It's okay. Whatever you feel, on any given day, in any given hour, or even minute to minute, it's all okay.
The season before our children came out as transgender is one we can never get back. It's a gift and one we shouldn't take for granted.
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