Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 15 May 2015

What's in a Name

I gather that Americans have recently celebrated Mother's Day, here in the UK and Ireland we have Mothering Sunday way back in March (the 15th this year), but this did prompt some thoughts, consideration and discussion about how to relate to and what to call close relations who transition.

As a parent I have thought a lot about this, but for one reason or another have been unable to discuss it with my daughter.   Somehow I want to be able to assure her that come what may I will always be her Father, and if she wants to call me Dad then that's OK I can never pretend to be or indeed want to be her Mother, she already has one, and a very good one as well, and I would never want to damage or supplant that relationship.  Being a mother is not simply the female version of being a father (or of course vice versa) neither is it simply about giving birth, being a mother is about the intimate, nurturing, mothering role, the relationship.  Even though we did try to share out tasks we could not share out roles, when I read to my daughter at bedtime I was doing it as her father, not as a parent who happened (at the time) to be male.   I don't know how I am going to manage this but I always want to be available to her, as her father, to be able to fulfill that role however incongruous that may appear.   One day I hope to find out what sort of grandparent title I'm going to get ~ but not for a few years yet I hope!

In my own situation I know that because of her Alzheimer's my Mother will never be in a position to understand what I a doing, both my brothers both call me Paula, yet I don't know whether they now think of me as a sister, or a brother who is transitioning.

It seems to me that my friends have more trouble with pronouns than with my name change, indeed to be fair to them sometimes I do as well.

I have to remind myself that what I am doing here is rather selfish, in that it is all about me, how I relate to myself and the world, and that even if it seems tough at times it is also very difficult for other people, and the closer they are, the longer they have known me, and the more intimate we have been the more difficult it is.
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