Last weekend my mom was here for a visit; her first visit since RK's transition. I was quite nervous about her visit, as she has chosen to not try to change to female pronouns when we talk on the phone, so I didn't know how she would be in person. RK and I had discussed it at length several times before her arrival, and were prepared for the worst, but were hoping to be surprised. Sadly, that surprise didn't happen.
Mom was here for about 45 minutes before the first set of male pronouns came out of her mouth. Instead of directly correcting her, I just followed her sentence with a sentence containing female pronouns. She caught what I was trying to do and quickly followed with saying that "pronouns are still hard." Anticipating my anxiety being high and needing some rainbow-family reinforcement, we invited a couple of friends over for dinner on Friday night. They were all set to correct pronouns for us, but mom managed to avoid using pronouns all night. The next day when RK and I were sitting on the couch talking with mom, she started using male pronouns again, and RK was quick to jump in and correct mom, who again stated that pronouns are hard, and continued in the conversation.
At this point I was feeling defeated, judged, and uncomfortable in my own home. I contacted a few rainbow-family members who all gave me varying types of advice, and I decided to stay the course gently correcting, because mom was showing other signs of acceptance, in spite of her blatant refusal to try to use female pronouns.
On Sunday we met up with a lot of our rainbow-family for lunch. We were all sitting around the table talking and laughing when mom dropped a male pronoun. The ENTIRE table went silent and everyone said SHE at the same time. Mom FINALLY realized that she was the only one at the table with a pronoun problem, apologized, turned a few shades of red, and jumped back into the conversation. I wish I could say that this was the pivotal moment that mom started using female pronouns, but it was not. She continued to use male pronouns for the rest of her visit, we continued to correct her, and she kept apologizing, but never making an effort to do anything about it.
When I dropped her at the airport on Tuesday morning I had a sense of sadness that she was leaving, but also a sense of relief - which then caused another form of sadness. Once mom arrived back in Ohio she sent RK a very sweet and affirming text message which RK was thrilled to get.
I learned more from this weekend than I thought I would. I learned that my rainbow-family is far more engrained in my life than I thought they were, I saw my children have a relationship with my mom that they didn't have when we lived 2 miles away instead of 2,000, and I realized that no matter my age or location my mom still knows exactly how to push my buttons to communicate that she is unhappy without actually owning her feelings.
I am hoping that the next time she comes to visit we can have a lot more relaxation and a lot less manipulation.