My daughter told me today that she hoped I didn’t mind, but she volunteered me to take a friend down to Austin when the courts reopen to change her gender marker.
Of course I didn’t mind! I was honored and flattered that she thought of me as a valuable resource. I’ve been through this already and know where to go, who to talk to in order to expedite the process, etc. And unlike many of these people, who are in their early 20s, I have a very reliable “mom car” that will safely make the trip.
It’s funny but I’m increasingly becoming aware of what my new role is: I’m the accepting and helpful mom figure. Instead of feeling the negative side of aging, I’m really leaning into this. I’m not trying to recapture my youth but rather being an advocate for the youth.
Young people can always use some help. More importantly than that, I think I’m moving into a role of a supportive and helpful guide for the younger generation. I really feel comfortable in this role. I wish I had a mentor who understood me when I was that age. I didn’t really have anyone who got me or wanted to provide guidance, but I really could have used it.
I haven’t yet had the opportunity to help anyone in this specific way (and the one time I offered it, it was rejected) but I’ve always wanted to share the things I’ve learned in 26 years of marriage. I wish I had had a mentor like that; they could have saved me years of unnecessary trouble and helped me to become a better wife sooner.
My own mom had been married for a long time but kept me focused on the idea that marriage was supposed to be a fairytale. When it wasn’t, I thought there was something wrong with me and my relationship. She was silent rather than offering insight. I really wish she would have told me about what things worked and what things didn’t. Then again, maybe what “works” for them is that my dad’s learned to just tolerate her behavior, based on what I observed last time I visited.
I’ve gotten to a point where my marriage does feel like a fairytale now, but it took a lot of work and self-growth on the parts of both me and my husband. I feel like I have a lot of useful knowledge to share, knowledge that was very slow and difficult for me to learn.
But sometimes your desired role is different than the one you actually play. Maybe I’m still learning things from my husband’s battle with cancer that will make my story more useful someday. Or maybe my role is just to provide general support and be a resource for LGBT kids in their early 20s. I guess time will reveal the answer.