What being the mom of a Trans Kid Taught me

Someone said to me once, “When your children are born, they are characters in your story. But eventually they start their own story line where they are the main character and you are in a supporting role.”

It may be hard for a parent to determine when their child’s story has begun, when we should let them learn from their own actions. Notice I did not say “learn from their own mistakes” because I have learned that sometimes mistakes are happy accidents in disguise.

There are many parents of transgender children who wonder, “Is this transition for attention? Is my child trying anything to get through their depression? Is this a response to abuse? Is this because their friends are doing it? Because it’s cool?”

Parents with these thoughts are not alone, and are not horrible people. These are some of the questions that keep us awake, shaking and crying at 3am. These parents are reflecting on a major change and transition, and want to be sure steps are being taken mindfully. Going over “what ifs” in your head is not wrong, but at some point we all need to stop ruminating and move forward – move toward growth.

What finally worked for me was: Release trying to figure out WHY, and focus on WHAT is happening.

You love your child, heart and soul – and seeing them happy while at the same time they know you have their back – will eventually transcend those questions. Keep loving their heart and soul. Who cares about their clothes or haircut? All of that is temporary.

Therapists look for consistency and insistency when helping trans kids. If your child hasn’t wavered the last few years in their transition, then getting them on a path that may fight dysphoria and mental health issues seems like the way to go in my opinion.

Hold their hand and get through it together. You’ll both grow so much from the experience!! And that is not temporary. That is forever.

People ask me if I miss my daughter. I’d rather have a happy son living his true life than a suicidal daughter living to satisfy others.

Isn’t it beautiful when people are allowed to be who they uniquely are, and we accept them without boundaries?

LOVE, real love, is willing to allow those who you care for to be their authentic selves without any insistence that they satisfy you.

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Turkey Sausage Pasta Sauce, Low Points

I did not grow up eating sausage, and the first time I ate Italian Sausage as an adult I did not like it. Trial and error taught me that I don’t like fennel seed.

When I started Weight Watchers (now called simply WW), one of the members @dhallakx7 made a cookbook of low point recipes. This means they are lower in fats and sugars and higher in protein. He made a low fat sausage by using ground turkey instead of pork. I took his recipe a step further by using ground turkey breast (zero points on WW Freestyle) and of course I left out the fennel seed. I made a few other small changes…

I added my turkey “sausage” to a pasta sauce and it’s delicious! Here’s how you can make this low point recipe at home:

ground turkey sausageSausage Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 TB plan, fat free Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TB beef broth
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 TB red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Sausage Instructions:

  • Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add turkey.
  • Stir together all the other ingredients.
  • As turkey begins to cook (it will turn from pink to white) stir in all other ingredients.
  • Continue cooking and stirring, breaking up the meat with a spatula as you go.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chopped tomatoes (mine were stewed in Italian spices)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can canned tomato sauce (mine was no salt added)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Your homemade turkey sausage
  • Red wine, optional

pasta with sausage sauceSauce Instructions:

  • In the large skillet from the sausage, heat olive oil, garlic and onion over medium heat approx. five minutes.
  • Pour in tomatoes and tomato sauce. Mix in salt, ground black pepper, basil, oregano, bay leaf and cooked sausage. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove bay leaf from sauce before serving. If you have the points available, stir in about 2 oz. red wine. I used pinot noir.
  • Spoon cooked sauce over hot pasta (sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese if you have the points available) and enjoy!
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Like Gifts, We Wear Wrapping Paper

One night at dinner, my son asked me something along the lines of, “They say parents of trans kids mourn for the child they used to have. Do you think you are in mourning for me?”

Here’s how I responded:
“Let’s pretend you told me I couldn’t see my friend Erin ever again. I love Erin, she’s fun and one of my tribe and I would miss her and be hurt, angry and sad.

“When you came out as trans I was scared I would miss the person you used to be. I was so scared of what I MIGHT feel, when I should have taken the time to actually figure out what I was feeling. And sitting here, across the dinner table from you, feels a whole lot like sitting across the table from the kid I used to have.”

It’s still my child’s heart, it’s still his soul, and it’s the same twinkle in his eyes. The rest is just wrapping paper.

People. We’re all people. We wear our packaging, our window dressing, our wrapping paper. But (unless you’re Dr. Who) you still have that one soul and that one heart, just like the people you see every day. Like the person who cut you off in traffic, or the person who is yelling at Starbucks, or the person who was beat up just for loving someone too much like them.

One heart, one soul – just people. 
Please be kind to one another, people. That’s how we make the world a better place for everyone. Follow love. Choose love. Lead with love.

 

Photo by Dirk Shadd. 

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Cirque du Soleil Crystal in Tampa, Florida

Guest post by my son Elliott and daughter Alice

I like to imagine there was once a conversation that went something like this:
“We have a bunch of talented people performing various dangerous acts. How could we make it more exciting?”
“Blades on their feet?”
“Yes… Blades on their feet!”
And from that Crystal was born.

Ok, it probably didn’t go like that, but Crystal flawlessly brings everything you love about Cirque to the ice. In the best way possible, there is so much going on during certain scenes that it’s warranted to suggest seeing the show twice in order to appreciate the skills that each artist displays individually. Without giving away too much, I saw an act or two that I had never seen before elsewhere (despite having been to multiple Cirque and wannabe shows) and ALL performances went above and beyond what I’ve seen and expected! The Cirque Du Soleil artists never fail to push their limits. Even the work of the tech crew seems to be mind-boggling difficult and intricate.

Tying these acts together is a lovely storyline that follows the “in her head a little too much” main character, Crystal, and her journey of self-discovery. Each individual act gives more to the plot and, unlike past Cirque shows, are performed to modern pop songs you might recognize!

This cirque show had more costume changes than any other show I’ve ever seen. Some artists made between 3-6 costume changes! Each one was delicately designed for atmospheric context as well as emotional context. Many of the female characters had specially designed costumes that appeared to be skirts but were discreetly pleated shorts to allow the artists to perform. This unique costume design was a detail that allowed them to really transform between characters. In most ice-skating performances there are two designs that a performer wears- a tight body suit or a thin, short skirt. I loved that cirque was able to go above and beyond even in the costume and props departments – some items were only on stage for a few short minutes but helped set the scene.

Despite all the new, the show still reminded me of other Cirque shows. There were some parallels between Crystal that were in Volta as well as the late show Wintuk. Not the same acts, but rather, small details that connected the shows and made me question whether these shows exist in the same universe. There were also some nods to Alice in Wonderland.

Something that I feel gets overlooked often in Cirque show reviews are the clowns. While Crystal only has one true clown (played by Nate Cooper), he did a great job in captivating the audience even before the show began. I was worried that the ice would limit his abilities to interact with both the audience and the characters, but his physical acting helped bring the audience into the atmosphere and made you feel like you were in the story too.

Cirque Crystal will remain at the Amelie Arena in Tampa, Florida, now through Sunday evening. Show dates around the country and beyond are posted on their website through Sept. 2019. It’s a great show to see this holiday season with friends or family if you’re looking for a little laughter, a little magic, and a lot of “WOW!”

Our family received 4 free tickets to the show in exchange for these honest comments. #ad

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Try to Win Tickets to Cirque du Soleil in Tampa

*Edit*: Ticket winner was contacted. Thanks for playing!

Earlier I wrote about Cirque du Soleil’s 42nd show – CRYSTAL – coming to Tampa in December. This is Cirque’s first ever ice production on ice! #hosted

The show takes audiences on a magical journey into a world where figure skating blends with acrobatics, circus acts and aerial feats. CRYSTAL will be in Tampa, Florida, at the Amalie Arena from Wednesday, December 19 through 23, 2018 –  for a total of 7 shows. Tickets are on sale now. The show is suitable for all ages. Buy tickets online here. 

And now for a very special Cirque tickets giveaway!

I have 4 tickets up for grabs for one lucky reader!

If you were in the Circus, what would your trick be? Can you stand on your head? Can you touch your tongue to your nose like me? Can you juggle while riding a unicycle? SHOW ME!

Post a pic, drawing, concerto or quick video clip on Instagram and tag me @rafdarrow! If you don’t have an Insta, message me on Facebook. I can’t wait to see what you can do!

The fine print: After I announce a winner at the end of November, four tickets will be held for that person at will call for opening day, Wednesday, December 19th. I’ll need your name as it appears on your ID, and you will need to show that ID at will call to get your tickets. The show begins at 7:30pm. Any parking fee would be paid by the contest winner. I am not responsible for tickets, parking, popcorn, soda, beer, lemonade, souvenirs, porta-potties, or anything except giving your name to my contact at Cirque. Hope to see you there!!

For more details and to get a glimpse, follow #CRYSTAL and @cirquedusoleil on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube | BUY TICKETS NOW

Photo credits: Matt Beard / Costumes: Marie Chantale Vaillancourt / 2018 Cirque du Soleil

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