When my mom and I met for the first time, she was already shaped by a life that hadn’t been kind to her. Born in Germany in 1941, she began experiencing life amidst the terrifying thunder of falling bombs. Her father went missing in Stalingrad and her mother was torn apart by never learning the fate of her husband.
After the bomb shelters, my mom grew up in the ruins, stricken by fear and insecurity. Twenty years later, as a beautiful young woman with dreams of building her own family, she discovered she could’t have children of her own. In 1971, her husband and her found me at the local orphanage. They knew instantly: I was the one. I would be their beloved daughter.
When I later turned out to be a little boy, trapped in a girl’s body, my mom struggled, her dreams of braiding my hair, buying me dirndls, and giving me make-up-advice evaporating one by one…
I used to get angry at her for not understanding me, not accepting me the way I am. Now I know that I didn’t quite understand her either. She tries, every day, as much as she is able to. She fights her neuroses, paranoia and deeply ingrained insecurity. Concerning me, her adopted son, she still gets her adjectives mixed up and feels incapable of introducing me to her friends… but she loves me.
Sometimes people’s shadows are just too large, and jumping over them in one giant leap proves to be too much of an acrobatic feat to accomplish. Maybe in this case they need to bridge the darkness one tiny little hop at a time. And that’s ok. Kindness and understanding are so important. For all of us.