Tell Me Again Mom …why Did You Raise Me As A Girl?Yesterday, I stepped back into the alternate universe occupied by my mother. From that visit, three things I now believe as true …the world is in fact round …my mother should not wear prints and stripes together …and I no longer think of her as the wicked witch of the west who raised me as a girl.
I sat down at lunch with mom in an attempt to repair a relationship damaged from harsh words spoken months ago. But the truth is …I’ve come for answers that might help me find my place in this world. Specifically, why did she feel the need to dress me as a girl for the better part of my life?
My father died when I was 7. My stepsister and I often play together particularly during the summer even though she was a couple years older. About a year later, I recall playing dress-up with my sister, something we were prone to do in the absence of real friends. One night, my stepmother inserted herself into our games which extended my time in dresses and skirts through the weekend and then into the summer. By the end of the year my mother took my sister and me out of school and finished our education at home. The education, particularly living as a daughter and a sister continued through to today where I live with my sister after moving out of the house. I am now 20.
I wanted my mother to realize my emotional struggles and I looked seriously at which kind of man's clothing would best show my conviction. I decided to be true to my heart. After being greeted by my mother with a hug at the door …we shed a few tears and then sat down at the kitchen table to a nice salad. I wore a light brown pleated skirt with a gold belt and a ruffled black blouse trimmed in gold. My mom wore a print house dress with the strangest striped jacket. After some small talk during which I could only peck at my food until, I couldn’t wait any longer. I blurted out the question that had been hiding in my closet with the rest of my dresses for years …”Why?” It was not the time or place to argue whether I am currently happy with my life, but only why had she dressed me as a girl for so long …robbing me of what should have been my normal boyhood youth? We were both crying as she recalled my reaction to my father’s death.
Finally, at one key point, I had to speak up. It was she who wanted me to wear a dress, or at the very least her and my sister …not me. My willingness to participate was at point. She left the room briefly, but soon returned only to set a light blue album down on the table. “This is how we survived after your father died.” She said as she pushed it in front of me. I honestly did not want to look almost as much as I had to look. And on every page, were clear pictures of a familiar, smiling, girlish boy in colorful dresses appearing happy with life.
Jumping to the end of our emotional moment, we cried over the possible “why’s” of my mental state at the time, but it is still basically an un-answered question. Perhaps it was my fear of becoming a man since my Dad died so young …maybe I wanted to feel closer to my new stepsister and stepmother. But it was pretty obvious that I was not unhappy to be in girls clothes. And the “why” of my mother’s actions …I now understand. My mother said she watched her increasingly gloomy boy find comfort within the softness of girlish clothes. My feminine behavior became so persistent that my mother took us out of school so she could protect her emotionally troubled son from the cruelty of public schools. She did not take me out of school because she wanted to dress me like a girl as I remembered.
Regardless how or why I have learned to love being feminine, I would like to offer this…: I didn’t write this as a “poor me …feel bad for me” account of my life. I am where I am …trying to look forward, not back. I love every day I wake up and go to my closet for a new colorful skirt and blouse to wear …along with other girlish clothing. I have no dreams or aspirations to compete in a man’s world and would be happy enough to find a fulfilling job, then come home to people I love, and let my evenings fill with the simple things I enjoy …like cooking or reading and such. Although I have limited relationship experiences in my life, I guess my next question to answer is …who do I want to come home to at night?
I would certainly welcome any comments, interpretations of my past, or recommendations for the future.