On a rainy, cold and windy day in March, I found myself on the steps of my states capital building preparing to speak to a large crowd about the necessity for children like mine to be treated with dignity and respect in their schools and in their communities. As I looked out at the crowd I thought to myself how surreal it was that I was standing there. I felt a bit like I was having an out of body experience. I have always been passionate about certain things but I never imagined I would participate in advocacy in my life. But that was before I became a mom and that was before I became a mom to MY son.
The child that I love, that I have been parenting for the last 18 years happens to be transgender. This was not in my plans when I signed up to become a mom. I like to tell people if I had known I would be a mom to a transgender child you could have knocked me over with the touch of a feather. But as we all know, life can really throw us some curve balls that can knock us to our knees.
The love that I have for my “unique” and precious son is what I call MAMA LOVE. I describe it as an unconditional, intense, powerful and often times terrifying love that can motivate and incentivize me to do things I NEVER imagined in a million years I could be doing. MY SON and the MAMA LOVE I have for him has changed me, grown me and shaped me and I suspect will continue to do so for the rest of my life. I continually find myself being pushed outside of my comfort zone in order to advocate on his behalf and for other children like him that society wants to marginalize, ostracize and treat as less than. It is exhausting and infuriating on the worst of days and invigorating and joyful on the best of them.
On those days when I feel beaten down and can’t think beyond the next hour, I just have to stop and think, my job as his mom is to be his voice when he can’t express it and to fight for him.
Over the course of the last few years as I have advocated for kids like my son I have often been met with great compassion from complete strangers that want to understand and provide support to those that are “different”. These encounters are gifts that fuel my tank and keep me moving forward. I have also spoken in front of groups that don’t understand kids like mine and don’t want to. I have been on the receiving end of some pretty hateful people. I would be lying if I didn’t say that it hurts because I know that this is the world my son must live in. Just like anyone with a special needs child knows, our kids are different and the world doesn’t always act kindly to those that are.
I share my story of standing on the steps of my state capital, not to say that moms need to do that to fight for your child but to say that when we actively make a choice to ACCEPT and love our children, JUST AS THEY ARE, that is when we TRULY become advocates. Acceptance is truly a gift that we give to ourselves and its value can never be minimized.
As moms, we all know that we have a hard job. However, being the mother of a child with any kind of special and unique needs is truly THE HARDEST JOB EVER. As John Ball and I work with moms we come into contact with through Celebrate Hope, we especially like to remind them that we would challenge any mom who’s children do not have special/unique needs to do what we do day in and day out. We are…YOU ARE…some of the STRONGEST women out there. Don’t underestimate yourselves and the beautiful difference you are making for a vulnerable child that needs you love them just as they are.
Keep up the hard work and know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Much Love and Happy Mother’s Day from Celebrate Hope Founders
Lisa Goyette & John Ball