The Best Laid Plans

I am not a planner, but I do know that this was not the plan I would have made had I made a plan.  No, if I were a planner Jessie would still be George.  She would be a he, would have a short, appropriate haircut and be more interested in sports (or some other “male” hobby) than in sewing.  She would be jonesing for the newest Nikes and not the sale at Delia’s.   There would be no holes in her ears sporting shiny, dangling jewelry and I wouldn’t be forced to hunt in her room for my favorite brush.  Oh, if I had planned, things would be different.

Julie Ross - The Best Laid PlansIt would be dishonest to say that the adventure Jessie has embarked on is an easy one.  Or even one that I fully understand.  I cannot claim to be totally comfortable with her choices of dress and hairstyling.  I am still, close to a year into it, sometimes caught off-guard by her decidedly female presentation.  I won’t tell you that it has been a joy to watch and that there are not times that I wish I had somehow “planned” better – for both Jessie’s path and my own comprehension of her needs.

Oh, if I had concocted a plan for her childhood, I can guarantee you it would not include a change of gender identity.   It would not have a line item for a name change.  And it would certainly not include finding myself writing a blog which is read by thousands of people, most of whom I do not know.

All that said, I am actually glad that I didn’t have a plan.  (I plan for nothing and live by my father’s credo that things have a way of working themselves out. I do not always execute the process with the aplomb that I would like, but I do let things happen organically…for better or worse.)   If I had indeed planned, I would be feeling like a failure (which I do not).  I would be ruing all the woulda, shoulda, couldas (which I do not).  And I would be doubting my parenting (which I do not).

My lack of planning is not to be confused with a lack of expectations.  I certainly did not expect, even in the throes of the Barbie phase, that my little boy would become my daughter.  Nor did I expect to be not only living, but chronicling her transition.  When I fed a house full of people for my second child’s Bris and naming, I did not expect to be thinking about her Bat Mitzvah some day.  Likewise, I did not expect the outpouring of support from my friends, family and community when Jessie boldly made her announcement.  But sometimes reality exceeds expectations–and sometimes, not always, it is the surprises along the way that provide, in a backhanded sort of way, the joys of life…despite (or in spite of?) the bumps along the way.

When I look at Jessie I know that things are right for her.  For now.  I know that she is comfortable living her life as she has chosen.  For now.  And I know that she, like her mother, has not planned too far ahead.  She is taking this one day at a time and, in a sometimes Xanax necessitating way, I applaud her for her lack of planning.

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Julie Levinson

Julie Levinson

Julie (formerly known as Julie Ross) is the mother of two: Harrison, a student at UMASS Amherst and Jessie, currently a 7th grader who, until her tenth birthday, was George. She writes candidly about not only life parenting a transgender child, but her own trials and tribulations as a mom, woman, sister, daughter and friend. 

  4 comments for “The Best Laid Plans

  1. Marlene Clayton
    November 29, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Julie, you are amazing, we have to take what ever life brings and do the best we can and you are there!

    • November 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you, Marlene…you probably don’t know how much that means to me…

  2. December 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

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  3. Joe in midwest
    September 22, 2015 at 6:06 am

    I learned some 1.5 years ago that my son is my daughter as well. I support her (even if I get my pronouns mixed up), although she was in her 20s when I found out. So, she’s already been through puberty and has many male characteristics like a beard, a deep voice, larger man’s jaw and on, but is happier following a path towards identifying as a women and is on estrogen.
    Her mother and I are divorced, and our daughter has lived with her mother pretty much exclusively since she was a sophomore in high school. I felt betrayed when my “son” decided to live with her mother, but felt that she knew I would not pick up after her as her mother does. Little did I realize that there were underlying gender issues. Being transgender was not mentioned in any instruction manuals when she was born with male original equipment. Oh, well
    Now, I seldom even hear from my daughter, which is somewhat consistent with the age. But I find myself feeling that I should get used to not being part of her life any more. I hold onto my memories, and I have many, as I made many conscious decisions to be in her life before the family was separated. Yes, being her dad made me happy, but I won’t hold my breath any more as I am pretty far down the list of those that mean much. I can see it now.
    I just want her to be safe, to be able to have opportunities to find meaningful work with all of her education, and have satisfying relationships, though I must say my imagination is taxed when I try to think of possibilities. This is so hard to wrap my head around. Harder when I feel that I probably won’t be in her life much anyway.

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