A Body, Divided

 

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The first time I met a transgender person, I wanted to take her home. I wanted to teach her how to walk in high-heeled boots, and I wanted to tell her that young women do not wear tank tops in Virginia winter.

I don’t remember this classmate’s name, but I do recall how others looked at her. I can only imagine how often she wished she were invisible. And yet, she persisted – with her hormone drugs, with her disheveled attempt at feminine beauty, and with her confidence.

In many ways, I envied the guts it took to live her life. But I always wondered, where was her safe place?

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To Potty Train A Parent

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It is NEVER a good idea to offer unsolicited potty training advice, especially when your audience is a mother strung out from a long night with a breastmilk addict.

One “sage advice” drive-by at our local grocery store comes to mind. I was staring off into space in the dairy aisle when an older gentleman made his presence known. At least the encounter began friendly.

“How old is your son?”

With these kinds of questions, the response goes one of two ways…

“Nine months.”

I remember readying myself for his next move. Senior citizens love touching babies.

“Wow, nine months! That was the age that I potty trained my son!”

[Insert polite head nods and a weak smile here.]

I remember parting amicably after he began to discuss that same son’s “issues” in adulthood.

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Fields of Gold

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Long before I was a mother, I was a runner. On April 15, 2007, exactly nine years ago today, I completed my first 5k. It was a windy and hilly race for which I was not conditioned, and, due to low runner turnout, I actually managed to get lost in the barren fields of early Virginia spring.

I crossed the finish line with a three-minute, don’t-follow-the-sorority-girl-who-is-lost delay. My legs, already jelly, would struggle to move the next morning.

I will never forget the innocence of that day.

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A Mother Nose

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On most days, parenthood feels like the dying of oneself. Life no longer revolves around you or your own independent decisions. Instead, you will likely find yourself last on the priority list at the close of each day. This does, however, offer a most amazing peace: your children are alive and you lived another day to bask in their glow.

I was experiencing the euphoria of this moment just before bed one night last week. It was approximately 10:00 p.m., and I was ecstatic about an early (at least for me) bedtime.

As I turned off our living room’s final light, I glanced at the rug that my children frequent during the busy hours of day. The toys, in classic toddler fashion, were strewn around the room. Make a note of that slide, I reminded myself.

As I completed the excited tango of a careful mother in the dark, it struck me. No, literally, our wooden doorframe struck me. Crack! My nose had failed in its attempt to move the wall.

Two doctor appointments and three x-rays later, the verdict was less than amusing: a likely fracture. I may have even laughed at myself if my face hadn’t been hurting so badly.

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Time: The Missing Ingredient

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Sometimes the muffins don’t rise, and sometimes it’s your own fault.

If there is one thing to be said of college students, it is this: they stay hungry. During my undergraduate years, I remember, with a weak stomach, subsisting off a diet of highly processed foods. I believe rock bottom was the morning I ate microwaveable mac and cheese at 7:30 a.m. before a final exam.

Of course, I see this same struggle in my students, which inspires me to bake a homemade treat for each of my classes during the semester.  Two weeks ago, I gathered the necessary supplies for double chocolate chip muffins and committed myself to the task, which happened to be at 10 p.m.

After nearly an hour of preparation and baking, I peered into the oven with the kind of devastation that always finds teachers who try too hard. The muffins were dense and flat, and I immediately recalled my missing ingredient: baking soda.

I went to bed that night with a heavy heart and a full trash can.

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