My child is in surgery right now.
That statement, in and of itself, is not precedent setting. Kendall has had three knee surgeries, wisdom teeth have been removed, etc. But today is a little different.
Today, Toby is having top surgery - yes, our transgender son is having his breast tissue removed. And no, it is not a piece of parenting road Rudy and I ever envisioned walking.
Yet walk we are.
Parenting is, after all - in our opinion at least - an all in, go where it goes proposition. That means knee surgeries, wisdom teeth, Wonder Womaning in when one was discovered to be in an abusive relationship. It means the highs, the lows, the accolades, the fuck ups. The joy, the pain, the laughter, the tears.
And, more than anything, the completely unexpected.
As I sit here in the waiting room, my thoughts are all over the place. I flash to when Toby was born. Perfect, beautiful, full of life, that cheek dimple on full display. Then just as quickly I see the moment he came out to me. I see the couch in the living room, the fear in his eyes, the hesitation in his voice as he struggled to find the words that would set us down this uncharted path.
And then, I see him here in the waiting room a couple hours ago, surgical gown on, taking funny selfies, amusing Rudy and I so the tension and nerves could not find footing.
That is who Toby James Sharp is.
A human being who thinks of others before he thinks of himself. And for that, especially today, we are forever grateful. In the run up to this surgery, he has been nothing but excitement, positivity. It has allowed the rest of us to indulge our rotten humor. See our family group texts this morning:
It allowed Rudy and I to hug him as they took him to surgery, and not be gripped by fear. It allows us to currently sit here, watching the Champions League game on our computer and breathe easy about what is going on just down the hall.
Toby is unafraid, so we are unafraid.
Parenting is dicey. You bring a child into your life and you move from one day to the next. Maybe you never have a hiccup that jerks you out of the pages of a parenting digest. Maybe your life is just one big Hallmark card - it happens. But the more likely scenario is that we are all on our own journeys, juggling the unexpected, mitigating what we can, adapting to the circumstances presented. It could be autism, depression, cancer, cystic fibrosis, broken hearts, broken bones, suicide, accidental death - you name it, there is a parent(s) charting their course through it.
Everything I have listed, I have watched a dear friend face. Friends with children who do not fall into the societal "normal" but who are an endless joy to their families. I have watched friends fear their child will never make it beyond the incubator in the hospital, so tiny, so compromised, yet proving themselves to be a mini prize fighter. I know what it looks like to see someone walking awake through a nightmare that will never end.
For all the years I have shared my family with the world, I know what it has looked like. High achieving, beautiful, stable, healthy kids - three of them. How in the world did we get so lucky? <---I have thought that repeatedly through the years.
Let me make it clear right now - I STILL THINK THAT.
This piece of road - Toby being transgender - does not make me feel unlucky on any level. Rudy and I still feel absolutely blessed. Toby may not be the gender we thought he was at birth, but he is the person he was at birth, the person he has been his entire life.
Toby gives even when others take without end. Toby has patience beyond the saints. Toby loves without limits. Toby inspires. Toby is brave, funny, kind, compassionate, smart, talented, athletic. Toby IS joy.
Toby was not a planned child - but hey, how many children are truly according to some time table? - we were happy and done with two. But he came. And for 19 years, as Carson, he added life, love, happiness, and laughter to this family. Since becoming Toby, he has added no less. If anything, he has added more.
As with Hurricane Iniki in 1992, that hit Kauai and left us with nothing but each other and a four month old Culley, Typhoon Toby has come along and made us realize that our parenting talk is also our parenting walk. The hurricane solidified for us that our moral fiber was unshakable. We could buy another TV. We could not buy another us, or Culley.
With Toby, his transgender status simply highlighted that what we always talked - acceptance, unconditional love, advocacy - were more than just words. They are the ethos of Rudy and I as parents.
Toby's physical appearance changes today. It is a profound step in both psychology and physicality.
What doesn't change is WHO he is. Who WE are.
We are the very proud parents of three amazing children.
And what I want to stress to you, above all, is that you do not get to choose where your parenting road will go. How you navigate it, however, reveals the person you are. Be the parent who loves no matter what.
Thank you for letting me ramble as we sit here longing for more updates. As they say, "the waiting is the hardest part..."