Calm, Cool and Committed

Three Moms and a Dude

Gender Bender

Have you ever pondered this question — “If my spouse had gender reassignment surgery, would I stay with them?”  My guess is that you haven’t.

Here at Calm, Cool and Committed, we have.  Mamma Fratelli and I decided to post our answers.  And, for good measure, we invited (well, I invited) a dissenting guest opinion.

Mamma Fratelli

“L-O-L-A Lola”

Could you stay with your spouse if he had a sex change?

Yes. Wait, no. OK yes. I would love to say, “Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt” because the sexual orientation component of the issue does not bother me. I’d love Bug whether or not I was sexually attracted to him. However, gender reassignment is not just a nip, a tuck, and a new wardrobe; there is a complete identity change. Not to mention, the impact that the hormones and the psychological stress would have on our marriage. Not only is there no easy answer to this question, there is more than one question to this question. Do I care if Doodle Bug and Sunny have two mommies? No. Do I care if our neighbors assume I’m a lesbian? No. Would I mind if my husband wore heels and went by the name Nancy? I don’t think so. Could I grow to enjoy a sexual relationship with a female husband? I’m not sure. Probably not. Could I stay with a spouse with whom I have an asexual relationship? Yes. Many people do it after their spouse suffers an illness, injury or simply old age.When we took our vows, we promised to stay together for better or for worse, through sickness and through health. If you look at these words like a legal contract, you can sway them in both directions. You could say that Gender Identity Disorder is a sickness and it would be my responsibility to care for and support Bug *through* it. Does that mean through as in he will get better and stay male? Or, does that mean throughout as in I am with him for the long haul? What about the argument that I vowed to stay with the man that I married as he stood before me at the altar that day? Would that mean that a major change such as a religious conversion, a new penchant for violence, or a change in sex would nullify that promise? Or, am I bound to stay with that new person because he is the same physical self? I just don’t know but as I understand it, the vow means that I will stay with him through better or worse *situations* not better or worse *character* or *actions*. Therefore, if he lost his job, I couldn’t leave him but if he decided to become a serial killer, I could. I guess the point is moot, though, because I do not believe that gender reassignment is wrong. There are many people who feel that they were born into situations that do not fit them and they take steps to change that. This just happens to be, arguably, the most extreme step. Is it wrong to drag your spouse and children through it with you? Probably. However, if society were more tolerant, people with GID would not feel so obliged to repress their true selves and they would not have to wait until they snap to get their surgery. Then, potential fiancés would have all of the facts before they made a commitment. For example, I took a graduate class with a young man who was born female. He was going through the hormone portion of the therapy and was very proud of his peach fuzz on his cheeks! He had a girlfriend at home that knew from the beginning of the relationship that her girlfriend would one day sprout a penis and become her boyfriend. I have to say that I admire and even envy their love a bit. To know that you love someone’s soul so much that you don’t care about the packaging is touching and beautiful. I don’t know if I am that strong. I fell in love with a man and I like that he is a man. Sure, it would be nice if he started to shave his armpits and embrace chick flicks but I like his masculinity. I like his callused hands, strong (flat) chest, big arms and scratchy chin. I am not attracted to lady bits and I’d rather not have it sprung on me that I have to become a lesbian by no choice of my own. BUT, I owe it to the *person* I love (man or woman) to at least give him a shot. So, my answer is “yes, I could, but I don’t know if I would.” That said, I’m very grateful that this was a hypothetical question.

Molar Mother

“Hubwife”

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116  is an amazing piece of work.  It’s the perfect definition of love.  It’s so perfect that it was read at Hubby’s and my wedding.  The poem says, “Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds…”

The issue of staying married to a spouse who switches genders is really a question of what love is.  Is love contingent on one person being a certain gender?  I say no.

Sure, a big part of what initially attracted me to Hubby was his masculinity – his big muscles, his strong body, heck, even his hairy chest!  Yet, these aren’t the things that made me fall in love with him.

I know that hubby prefers being married to me over being married to an 80 year old woman.  But guess what.  One day I will be an 80-year-old woman (knock on wood), and I expect him to stay married to me.  I won’t be the 26 year old to whome he initially made his vows.  Inside, however, where it counts, I’ll be the same person.

If we were only to marry people who were physically attractive and appealing to us, I’d be married to Daniel Craig and Hubby would be married Emily Blunt.  Fortunately for Hubby and me (and maybe Daniel Craig and Emily Blunt), love looks past the body.

Sure, there are some things that MIGHT make me leave Hubby – cheating on me, joining a cult, becoming a Republican… but those are all things that would hurt me.  Hubby changing gender isn’t a hazard to me as a person.  And if identifying as a girl stops him from being hurt, then go for it!  I’ll stick with him.

Really Cranky Dad

“Why I Wouldn’t Stay Married to Molar Father”

When my wife first asked me if I’d stay married to her if she had gender reassignment surgery, I thought about it a minute and then said, “No.”
She was upset with me, which surprised me, especially given the purely hypothetical (as far as I know) nature of the question. I considered the question a bit more, but my answer was still no. Would I be friends with her? Sure. Would I hang out with her? Sure. But I wouldn’t stay married to her.

Of course because it’s changing sex organs we’re talking about, everybody’s first thought is that it’s about the physical act of sex. For me, that did factor into my answer, but not as much as you’d think. I mean, if my wife had a dehabilitating injury and we couldn’t have sex, I wouldn’t divorce her over it. (And yes, I understand two men can have sex, but that’s not really my thing.)

To me, the issue is one of honesty. I cannot fathom my wife wanting to be a man. If that happened, it would mean I didn’t know her at all. Not at all. Our lives together would have been a lie. Because, honestly, if she wanted to be a man then she wouldn’t have married me–or at least wouldn’t have married me without discussing this with me. Our physical sex is a big part of our identity. Why do you think they make people go through years of therapy before doing a sex change operation? So why would I be expected to stay married to a person who was fundamentally changed, not through some random act (like a chimpanzee attack that completely altered her body) or natural process (like aging, which wreaks its own havoc on our minds and bodies), but through a deliberate intention to become someone different?

Oh, and while my wife was berating me for my lack of fidelity to her fictional self who had a sex change, she told me she almost broke up with me when she found out I’d once voted Republican. I guess we all have our sticking points.

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Gone Baby Gone

In 1988, Ronald Reagan declared October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  His hope (and the hope of those supporting his proclamation) was to help bring attention to the grief that affects so many families.

The American Pregnancy Association reports this –

“Every year in the United States there are approximately 2 million women who experience pregnancy loss:

  • 600,000 women experience pregnancy loss through miscarriage
  • 1,200,000 women experience pregnancy loss through termination
  • 64,000 women experience pregnancy loss through ectopic pregnancy
  • 6,000 women experience pregnancy loss through molar pregnancies
  • 26,000 women experience pregnancy loss through stillbirth”

That’s a lot of babies lost.  Yet pregnancy loss still remains a silent subject.  I know because I’m one of the 6,000 who suffered a molar pregnancy.  Hubby and I lost our angel baby in October of 2010.  Two years have passed, and we now have our rainbow  baby.  Two years is a long time, and we are blessed each day through Bud’s life… but that long-ago loss still weighs heavily upon us.

Perhaps one reason so many people suffer in silence is because no one knows how to talk about it.  So what can we do?  How can we help?  From my experience, the best thing to say to someone is, “I’m sorry you have to go through this, and I’m here if you ever want to talk.”  And then, every month or so, you can say, “I’ve been thinking about you and hoping you’re dealing okay.  Let me know if you want to talk.”  Don’t be afraid to bring up the subject after time has passed — because months might have gone by, but that mother and father have not forgotten.

For hubs and me the whole year after our loss majorly stank.  And flashes of remembrance of the stinkiness still pop up.  In fact, today was one of those bad days.

Yet there are people who suffer more than Hubby and me.  People who lost their 11-month-old baby.  People who have multiple pregnancy losses.  People who are losing their baby as we speak.

Tonight, and all month, my thoughts are with those women and men.

“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” – Ronald Reagan

“What Makes A Mother
I thought of you and closed my eyes
And prayed to God today
I asked, “What makes a Mother?”
And I know I heard him say
A Mother has a baby
This we know is true
But, God, can you be a mother
When your baby’s not with you?

Yes, you can he replied
With confidence in his voice
I give many women babies
When they leave it is not their choice
Some I send for a lifetime
And others for the day
And some I send to feel your womb
But there’s no need to stay.

I just don’t understand this God
I want my baby here

He took a breath
and cleared his throat
And then I saw a tear
I wish I could show you
What your child is doing Here

If you could see your child smile
With other children and say
“We go to earth to learn our lessons
of love and life and fear,
but My mommy loved me so much
I got to come straight here!”
I feel so lucky to have a Mom who
had so much love for me
I learned my lessons very quickly
My Mommy set me free.
I miss my Mommy oh so much
But I visit her each day
When she goes to sleep
On her pillow is where I lay
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek
And whisper in her ear
“Mommy, Please don’t be sad today
I’m your baby and I am here”

So you see my dear sweet one
Your children are okay
Your babies are here in My home
And this is where they’ll stay
They’ll wait for you with Me
Until your lessons there are through
And on the day that you come home
they’ll be at the gates waiting for you

So now you see
What makes a Mother
It’s the feeling in your heart
It’s the love you had so much of
Right from the very start
~Author Unknown

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Live and Let Die

By Mamma Fratelli

Life is beautiful. It is – hands down – the most important thing we have in this world.  It is a right, a blessing, a gift and it trumps absolutely everything else.  When we hear about a car accident or terrorist attack, the first thing we want to know is how many lives were lost.  We mourn those souls whether we knew them personally or not. We feel the void they left behind and shudder at the thought that it could have been one of our loved ones. Or us.  The loss of a life – any life – is a memento mori for us. Therefore, it can be particularly disturbing when someone chooses to end the game early.  Suicide, to some, is the most egregious of all sins.  I used to call it selfish.  And, it is. But, perhaps it should not be a sin or a crime. Perhaps it is just as much of a right as life itself.

When I was young, I heard the story of two children who walked home from elementary school to find their mother’s bloody body in the living room. She had put down a table cloth so that there would be minimal mess and left this world one weekday afternoon.  The real horror is that she knew that her children would be home before her husband.  I am still angry at that woman. How could she do that to her own babies?! What could be so terrible that you just throw your hands in the air and decide to give up, sell the farm, take the early bus and not look back?  How dare you leave your loved ones in agony because you were depressed? There are people fighting for their lives every second of the day. You want to tell that soldier in Iraq that your suburban life was just too hard? That young mother diagnosed with breast cancer would gladly take your troubles – and then some! Life is tough. Suck it up. Keep on trucking. You owe it to all the people who have invested in you and count on you to be there. Or, do you?

As I get older, my anger at this woman is starting to shift into anger for her.  She was sick. She did not have the luxury of clear analysis.  Her pain was just as real as someone who was suffering physically.  She, like a prisoner, was serving a life sentence. She was rotting slowly from the inside out and every breath was painful.  She simply did not want to be here. The horrific scar she left on her children notwithstanding, she had the right to clock out whenever she wanted to. It was, after all, her life. Her right. Her blessing. Not mine. I’m sure that if you caught her on a lucid day, doped her up with SSRIs and asked her outright if she wanted her children to find her laying in a pool of blood, she would say no. Of course not. Who would want that to be the image seared into their little minds? Who would want their memory to be woven with threads of pain, loss and fear? She probably would have rathered the opportunity to sit down with them and calmly explain her decision, tell them to study hard and be happy, kiss them goodbye.  She probably would have liked to tell her husband that she loved him and appreciated the good times, to tell him to find a good woman to be a mother figure for her babies and to spin bedtime stories out of their happy memories.  Then, she would slip into something comfortable and be left alone with her last thoughts, close her eyes and drift into a painless slumber. That is not an option. Suicide is illegal. It’s a sin.  No one would have allowed her to do that.

Take a moment to remember the absolute worst pain you have ever felt – physical or psychological.  Was it a car accident? A divorce? The loss of a loved one? A failure? An illness? Did the pain become more bearable eventually? Did you take medicine or talk to a counselor? Meet a new spouse or come to terms with your loss? If so, you are fortunate enough to have a healthy mind and a strong body. Imagine if that pain never ever subsided. What if the throbbing from the broken bone was only going to get worse with time? What if you were doomed to wake up every morning and face that bad news again, as sharp and fresh and painful as it was the very first time you heard it? What if all the comforts in this world were replaced with agony, all the happiness sucked out and the hole filled with depression? Would you damn anyone to that hell? Shouldn’t it be an option to get better, even if better means gone?

I think that we should de-stigmatize suicide. We get to decide when our meal ends, when our shower ends, when our day ends, when our hunger ends. Why can we not decide when our journey ends, too? I would like to see suicide clinics.  I imagine them to be brightly lit, peaceful places that value life and strive to allow you to enjoy yours.  They would have counselors and medical doctors that try to help you through your troubles first.  When you are of sound mind, they will help you make a decision – stay or go. It’s up to you. If you choose to stay – great! If you choose to go – also great. They would help you and your family communicate and understand one another. They would help you get your affairs in order and set up a payment plan to come out of your estate for the cost of your departure.  Then, when the time was right, you would decide who – if anyone – should be present. Your family? Your priest? Your dog? You would be able to choose where your last location on this Earth would be.  Snuggled in your bed? Outside with the wind rustling your hair? Sitting by a fireplace, listening to Sinatra? Whenever you were ready, you would depress the plunger on your IV and have full control over your last breath.  Why in the world should that be a crime? A sin? A stigma? If suicide clinics existed, those kids would not have had to live that nightmare.  There would be fewer people bearing the burden of guilt and unanswered questions.  Fewer scars. Fewer fears.  There would be more people living peacefully, knowing that they are here because they want to be.

Isn’t that what life is truly about?

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Is there a hell? (Group Response)

If there is a hell, this guy is the cafeteria lady.

Each of us answered the question in the title.  Our responses are below.    We did not read each others’ responses or discuss them before posting.  Enjoy, and please leave comments for us.

Mamma Fratelli

Heaven for climate, Hell for company. ~Mark Twain

If only the good die young, that leaves the rest of us much more time to ponder our fates.  Where are we going after this life? As if what to make for dinner, what to be when we grow up and where to retire aren’t hard enough to plan, our religious leaders want us to make travel arrangements for our next trip before this one is even over.   Of course, if you asked most people where they’d rather spend all of eternity, they’ll choose Heaven 99.99% of the time.  As Warrant would have you believe, Heaven isn’t too far away. But, what if we take a wrong turn? Where will we end up? Honestly, I don’t know.  I’d be happy to ponder aloud with you, but I don’t have any intelligent, well-researched answers.  I just hope that The Bastard Fairies are wrong.

I choose to believe in the paternal image of G~d.  I believe that He teaches us through our experiences and is there to catch us – all of us – when we fall.  Let’s stretch the analogy.  If you are a parent, is there anything your child could do that would make you want them to feel pain and punishment  for all eternity? Heck, most of us are more upset than our kids when they’re being disciplined. Doodle Bug misbehaved once after Bug and I made the mistake of threatening not to let him go to the car show with Daddy if he didn’t follow the rules.  Well, he didn’t and my husband was the one who looked like he might cry.  Doodle wasn’t nearly as upset because he didn’t know what a car show was and had no idea what awesomeness he was going to miss. Is that how G~d feels when we sin? Is He bummed for us because He knows how great Heaven is? Is that why He gives us so many chances to make things right? Or, is He bluffing? Maybe there is nothing on the other side of The River Styx but more land. Well, I don’t think He is bluffing. I think we are. I believe that Hell was thought up by Man so we could control each other. “Behave or I’ll throw you in jail? Not scared of jail? Well…well…how about being burned alive? No? How about being burned alive FOREVER?! Aha. I knew you’d see it my way!”  I think G~d created an amazing existence for us here. I’m not sure whether or not there are any bonus features on this DVD but I really don’t think any creator could stomach torturing his children forever. Perhaps Heaven and Hell are psychological places that we send ourselves. Does that mean that unremorseful criminals never really get punished? That doesn’t seem fair! To us. G~d obviously isn’t human so we cannot ascribe human traits and thought processes to Him.  So…I may have just debunked my own argument.  I’ll tell you what, let’s make a pact.  Let’s both be the best persons we know how to be and then whichever finds out where that takes us first will make sure he lets the other know. Deal?

Mea

My hell would be losing my husband or children to death or even being separated from them. Just the thought instantly causes panic and emotion to well up inside me. I’d rather be in hell with my family, than in heaven or here on earth without them, quite frankly.  But really, I am just trying to avoid answering the question (Is there a hell?), mostly because I hate talking about religion as much as I hate talking about politics. Honestly, I don’t see the point. None of us can prove whether there is a heaven or a hell, so why do we chastise each other trying to do it? To me, debating religion doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead, it creates unforgivable division.

Having said that, I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home, church and school. Honestly, my best childhood memories come from this period in my life. I loved and still miss the feeling of having one, big, extended family along with the never-ending list of activities and fellowship. What I don’t miss are some of the irrational rules and the infectious judgmental attitudes (Unless you believe and do exactly as we say, you are going to burn for eternity!). When my parents chose to enroll us in public school to save money, not only were we told horrible things (like all of the students had drugs and guns and would threaten to kill us), but my parents were also treated like social pariahs. People my parents considered to be their closest friends for decades turned on them in an instant and began chastising them for their choice. Eventually, we left the church as well. Experiencing something like this shakes a person’s core beliefs and causes a lot of pain and doubt. What I don’t doubt, however, is that there is a Creator and that someday, we will all be judged by the life we lead here on earth. I don’t believe, however, that there is that much division between most religions. We argue about how to get to heaven, how to worship, what music to listen to, who gets to go to paradise and who is going to burn. But really, our core beliefs are amazingly similar. The biggest difference between most religions is simply the cultural perspective from which our foundational documents originate. These documents, although influenced by divine inspiration, were written and translated by humans…who are by nature – flawed. So, is there a hell? I guess we won’t really know until we die.

Molar Mother

Growing up I never questioned the existence of Hell.  Then, a year ago the idea of there NOT being a hell presented itself to me.

I have friend, Faith, who is well-connected to her church (I won’t tell you the denomination because I don’t think her beliefs are in line with her church’s teachings).  Faith, told me she didn’t believe in Hell.  Here is her reasoning.  Imagine you’re a parent.  Your child does something wrong – from forgetting to wipe his shoes to killing a man.  Will you condemn that child to eternal damnation?  Faith said she knew, from her experiences as a parent, that she would not.  Because God is our Father, she believed that he would not do that to us, His children.

I know some (like The Dude), might see this as flawed logic, but it makes sense to me.  It made sense before I was a parent, and it makes sense now that I am a parent.

If you support this logic, there’s only one problem.  What happens to the people who are really, really, REALLY bad on Earth?  Like Hitler.  Or pedophiles.  Or Osama bin Laden.  I don’t think any of us relish the idea of kicking it back in paradise with Elizabeth Báthory.

In all honesty, I don’t know if there’s a hell.  I try not to think about it too much.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed about the heaven part, though.

—-

“Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”
“No, sir.”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

The Dude

Does Hell exist? I believe it does, but before I explain, I’ll preface with this: I believe that God hates that Hell exists and hates the idea that people go there. I believe that Hell was not part of the original creation. After the sixth day of creation, the Bible says that God saw all that he had made, and that it was good. To me, this means that Hell was not yet in existence. At some point between the sixth day of creation and the fall of Adam and Eve, Satan and his angelic gangsters decided to rebel against God. In response to this rebellion, God created Hell and place Satan and his angels there. Fast forward – Satan tempts Adam and Eve, and man is forever cut off spiritually from God. The Israelites tried to get close to God again, but they messed up too frequently. Other cultures tried, but they worshipped false gods. Things were not looking good for humanity.

Enter Jesus. Here comes a guy who says, it isn’t all about obedience and fear; it’s about faith and trust; it’s about love and forgiveness. Jesus painted a picture, which was very different from what the Jews had been used to. Jesus made things simple: accept me and have community with God, or reject me and have separation from God. This is my stance on Hell. Hell exists, and the way to avoid Hell is paradoxically simple and complex at the same time. Accept Jesus as leader of your life and forgiver of your sins, and Hell isn’t an option for you: you’re going to Heaven. Reject Jesus, and God will honor your choice – separation from him. The Bible says that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, and I believe that wholeheartedly.

Now before I get railed by people who want to call me a fundamentalist condemner of the world, I’ll explain a few more facets of this argument from my perspective. 1.) I believe people are judged based on their nature or their knowledge. This means that the tribe in Africa who has never heard of Jesus is probably not going to be sent to Hell for not believing in someone of whom they literally have no knowledge. In the tribe’s case, I’m hoping that God judges them based on their nature; that is, how they chose to love and value others and whether or not they seek a higher power. For the person who has heard about Jesus in a way that would make believing in him seem like a positive experience, but who chooses to reject Him, I believe that person will be judged based on their knowledge. 2.) I can’t tell you who is going to Hell and who is not. I could guess, but I don’t know what purpose that would serve towards showing people the love of Jesus. It bothers me when, in the midst of a conversation like this, people say things like, “So all Jews are going to Hell?” I don’t know. I believe that people’s eternal destination is between them and God. 3.) As for the nature of Hell? Hell is punishment, but nowhere in the Bible is Hell described as torture for those who don’t believe. Hell is ontologically exactly what it sounds like: separation from God.

I believe that Hell is real, but more importantly, I believe that Heaven is real too. I believe that having a relationship with Jesus is the way, the one way, to Heaven.

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