When she was born, the midwife instructed me, “reach down and grab your baby.” I did as was told. This was my fourth birth, I knew what to expect and was not put off by the clamming, wet, clump of flesh that was making it’s entrance. I reached for my child, held her up to the light, and brought her to my chest. “It’s a girl”, whispered the midwife. My mind went a little sideway. A girl? No, not possible. I was having a boy. I had only picked a boy name, Calvin. This baby was a boy. I was sure of it, and in my mind I thought, “Maybe my boy has a vagina.”
Thirteen years later, my daughter come to the same conclusion. She hangs a flag on her bedroom door to proclaiming her truth. The transgender flag and on it she has written, he, him, his to inform us of how to address her.
This was not in the baby books, I am not sure how to process. At the edge of his bed in a room filled with polka-dots and frogs he explains himself. I listen. Now he is my teacher and I want to hold the space for him to tell me all about it and at the same time, I struggle. See, there has been a well paved groove created in my mind about a little girl named Rosemary, who is scrappy and artsy and loves frogs and baking and telling jokes and… she is both no longer here and yet not really gone. I am watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly and I am so sad to see the caterpillar go. I can’t express in words how very dearly I have loved that little caterpillar. Wait, I want to say… go slowly.
A funny thing happens to the caterpillar when she is ready to really live her most optimal life… she begins to slowly and methodically kill off the old idea of herself. First she stops eating. She literally stops feeding the old version off herself. Then she climbs to a twig, hangs herself upside down and begins to weave a shell of silk. When she has completely wrapped up her old self, she begins to digest herself by releasing enzymes that take all her parts down to goo. Turning everything into a caterpillar soup of sorts. Everything except for the imaginal disc. What is an imaginal disc?
I am not a scientist, I just dig reading about nature. I have no idea why only the imaginal disc is left or what it does… I think it has something to do with transforming the caterpillar soup into the butterfly. From my poetic mind I imagine this little disc whispering “imaginings” to the caterpillar soup.
“Imagine, imagine, imagine…Do not go back to your old ways, that is done. Do not conform to old definitions, they are broken. Step to the cusp of the unknown and I promise you great flight.
Imagine, imagine, imagine flight.”
A Course in Miracles tells me, I am not a body, I am free I am still as God created me. We are spiritual beings, having a physical experience, for a temporary time. I am good with that. But to know that YOU are not YOUR body, and HE is not HIS, and SHE is not HER body… I can sometimes get hung up.
At the foot of my child’s bed I am hooked and hanging upside down. My world is turning to soup. He is weaving a new story made from silk. We hang on the cusp of this great mystery, this place that I did not know was. This uncharted territory.
My inner teacher whispers, “Everything must be boiled down, but nothing REAL will die.” So I turn inward and take a look at myself, and my places of special separation. I let my rules and regulations and restrictions get soft. I admit once again, I do not know what anything is for.
In my bones, in my heart, in my blood I know this child, I have always known them. The midwife whispers, “reach for your baby.” and I do. I reach once again and hold him to my chest. This sweet and scrappy soul is my teacher. A great lesson, a great healing is poking it’s head.
In order to grow, I have to let go, of all that I am, and all that I know.
I think of all my special segregations, this Spiritual Vixen group being one of them. “Spiritual Vixen’s are just for women”, I tell my oldest daughter. She shakes her head, not in judgement but in knowing. Her conviction and wisdom makes me lean in. She tells me that I am ridiculous and she continues to invite boys to the community. She makes me laugh and makes me proud. Of Course I know she is right. Our body parts are a silly distraction, designed to hide a deeper truth.
You are magnificent my child and so much bigger than these limited limbs.
At the foot of my child’s bed I struggle for the next breath, the next right word. I struggle to listen to God’s direction. It’s time to heal and hold open the door to anyone, in any shape, or any size, in any color or gender. Of course that is what love would have me do.
Rosemary now calls himself Rhine, it was his middle name and one day he will be welcomed to warm his bones at our fire. To celebrate and struggle along with the rest of the tribe of Spiritual Vixen’s. May we do our best to hold the Light strong till that day. Until then I will try to trust the caterpillar, I will stop feeding the old, I will let my world be turn upside down, and into goo, and of course I will imagine flight.
What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
Please leave me a comment to let me know you were here and please share your thoughts… I am interested in your transformation.
Maureen Muldoon is a Spiritual Vixen, writer, speaker, storyteller and thought leader. She is the spiritual director of SpeakEasy Spiritual Community and creative director of Voice Box. She host conversation that support individuals and organizations get on the path to awesomeness. She blogs at ~ MaureenMuldoon.com and Vlogs on YOUTUBE
wow Maureen and Rhine. Thank you for sharing this story of life, parenting, discovery and love.
You are welcome Michelle… we are all in the same boat when it comes to parenting… row, row, row the boat gently down the stream. <3
We are always learning new ways to show up and be real. I see Rhine rocking that and you, as you learn what it means to adjust habits and patterns to be able to more clearly see him in all of his kickass glory. What a team!
Thanks Kieta, I appreciate your comment and being in community with you. Blessed to be surrounded by wise women.
Thank you for the beauty you add to the world.
This was beautifully written. A difficult time of life for both parent and child. You are both truly courageous and inspirational! Much love and light.
Thanks Sigrid. Difficult yes and also there are blessings for sure. Thanks for your love and light.
Hello Maureen. This story is beautiful and so very real and the perfect illustration for the necessity to transcend our limited perception upward and outward to realize the spaciousness of ourselves. I will pass on my recurring thought when the subject of transgender comes up and it seems to be more often these days. At our very core I consider that we are genderless that perhaps becomes a source of confusion in this world for some. For me it grants so much space for choosing. It’s a fascinating issue that offers great opportunity and lessons. I appreciate you sharing the intimatacy of both the honoring and the letting go. It is at this depth where my connection to you and others is so much more apparent.
I have been facilitating course groups for 16 years or so… And as of yet have found nothing that aligns more with my inner teacher logic than A Course In Miracles.(for me the JCIM version). My favorite question that I pose to myself and share with my group often (and to anyone else who will listen) is “what would Love have me do?” You mentioned the same in this writing. I haven’t heard that phrase from another person perhaps ever and I consider it a most profound and essential question to keep me open and awake.
I have not met you yet and hope to soon at one of your sunday gatherings. I consider though only in writing that I have met a sister that lives in as vulnerable a state as I do. Having read your words today made the idea of segregation in every sense and level disappear for a time. I am one who feels “in love” often and am grateful for all that fuels that. So thank you.
Looking forward to meeting you
Nancy Gelband O’connor
Hi Nancy! So great to hear from you and YES I would love to see you at SpeakEasy.
The questions, “What would love have me do?” is a great and loyal compass that will always lead us to peace. And in the end peace is the goal. 🙂
Wow! This was so honest and poetic and beautiful. You are a wonderful mother and you and Rhine are so lucky to have one another! I can’t wait to meet Rhine when he comes out of the silky cocoon.
Hey there Mama,
Of course you’ll miss Rosemary. The sweet, fiesty creative little peanut you were so fortunate to be blessed with. How beautiful that this fiery little teacher has gifted you to shift perceptions to now open up to a bigger, and even bolder creative soul. There is nothing he can’t do. I hold Rhine with all my heart since I will always remember that powerful soul running through my house, swimming in my pool, playing at the beach, and throwing lemons up to the sky in your yard. I look forward to the man he will become. Welcome him from me. Welcome to the world Rhine!!!????❤️????????ps. And boy oh boy is he gonna be handsome. Look out world.
Hey Delores we should have seen the clues when he begged Zoey for a short hair cut.
Yes, life is beautiful in all it’s forms. Big Love!
Beautiful. I’m glad Rhine has you. With all that love he’s gonna be ok.
Thanks Jo! Big Love.
I just read, in my Joseph Campbell book, about stopping the grief for the life you thought you’d have and relish the life you have. I love the name, and am so excited to see the beautiful person he becomes. Much Love~ Sallie Ann
Thanks Sallie Ann. Yes, it’s best to love the life you have. Amen
I was here and I heard. Rhine is welcome in any circle I find myself in. I think of it like Kurdish dancing…everyone grabs hands and dances in circles…and when someone new comes to the dance floor someone opens the circle by unclasping hands and grabbing the newcomers hand. And everyone smiles…and no one cares if you don’t know the steps just that you have the balls to break the circle to join in.
the more the merrier
Hey Joan, That is a great story and the circle grows bigger and includes everyone and no one is left out. Sounds like heaven.
When we first heard this, it was hard to imagine. To imagine what Rhine had gone through and to imagine what you would go through. I must research and define everything first to fully understand. And so I did. After getting it through my head I then had to get it through my heart. And the heart repeats: For God so loved the world – so do we. In all its shapes, sizes, sexes. And the brain says, “Yes- love triumphs”. Just like you did! Beautiful transformation
Thanks Barbara, In all it’s shapes and sizes, sexes… God is good.
This is so beautiful. On so many levels I love the description of the caterpillar to the butterfly and the waiting. I feel that constantly happens for me as a mom-although I feel I’m constantly in the chrysalis! 🙂 the kids change so much in so many ways- always growing and shifting. I love the thought that I too am given the opportunity to soar with all the changes. I feel your story so deeply and I appreciate you so much for sharing it.????
Oh you are welcome Michelle. <3 It's is awesome to feel so supported as we walk through this new chapter. <3
Magnificent portrayal of a process nobody could ever prepare for. As always, your words are like silk and I’m in juicy awe of you. Grateful for you, for your teaching, for your honesty. Proud of Rhine for knowing who he is and not giving a fuck what this means to the outsiders. Love you.
I love you right back. Plus I love all your words. Makes me happy in the heart. Love and blessings to you my friend.
That was such a magical way to explain a journey that is so similar to my own…thank you for sharing! Brought me to tears and then a smile…just beautiful.
Hey Melissa, thanks for the comment. Together we trudge the road of happy destiny. All is well and we are all stronger than we had guessed.
Wow, beyond beautiful in countless ways. Thank you for sharing your truth, and in turn, allowing us all to find ours.
Hey Ryan, Thanks for your word. I really appreciate it. <3
I remember you, your family and the midwife all waiting for Rosemary’s arrival. Brought back memories of her in diapers crawling around the house and up high on your furniture when we were working. Those r the memories I have of her. Bold and not timid.
I feel proud of Rhine still steadfast, bold. Be free. That is my wish for you!
Yes, free to be exactly who he is here to be. The boldness is not going anywhere. <3
I feel like you climbed inside my own self, and told me what was there.
Thanks Deborah, we are so much more the same than different.