Transitions

My son is going to homecoming tonight. I just ran out to try and find a boutonniere at the 11th hour because why plan ahead? His boyfriend planned ahead and has a boutonniere for my son.

The only one I found is called Infinite Rose. Real Roses. Not Fake. Not Silk. That’s what it says on the box. It’s classy and fabulous. Just like my son, Evan. I asked Evan if any other gay couples were heading to homecoming and his answer: “The only other out gay guy is in love with a straight basketball player, so that’s not gonna happen.”

A Good Kid All Around

Evan is 15 and he’s brilliant and talented and kind and binge watches late-night political satire each morning while eating breakfast. I couldn’t ask for a better kid. His life, like mine, like everyone’s to different degrees, is in transition.

We moved this past weekend. I left one job at a struggling magazine and became full-time at another. My husband and I are separating. And Evan is about to hit the “official” two-year mark of being a boy. Transitions all around.

What is a T1?

Transitions in a triathlon are called T1—the transition from swim to bike— and T2—the transition from bike to run. In a triathlon I always wanted my transitions to be as fast as possible. Get in. Get out.

All my gear would be neatly organized on my fluorescent green tri mat that was signed by friends and family who love me. My shoes would be pointing in the right direction, in the direction I need to head when I leave the transition area. Everything would be in its place, so I don’t forget anything. I catch my breath, joyful to be on to the next stage of the race and aware that I need to let go of anything that didn’t go my way in the last stage and celebrate what went right. Then, I switch gears and head back out.

Life-saving Change

My son’s transition has been both fast and slow and life affirming. It was life-saving for him, and—in that case—for me as well. It was something he’d been working on for long time, trying to figure out what was wrong, or more correctly, what was right, for him. He had been so sad; even with therapy and medication, he was getting worse and farther away from me. I hardly saw him smile. His self-hate was evident and all-pervasive. But he held on and figured out what would make life better.

One day he walked into the transition area of his life and said, “Mom, I want you to call me Evan.”

It was that simple. That clear. Within a few days, he also asked that we start using he/him pronouns and my Evan was reborn.

Heading the Right Direction

His transition wasn’t as straight-forward as my T1 or T2. It was punctuated with ridicule and confusion and denial and even disgust by family and strangers alike as well as unconditional love and unwavering friendship from many others. Evan stood strong throughout because his shoes were finally pointed in the right direction.

It all made sense looking back, but I never guessed his T1 would involve new pronouns. It also involved the return of his light-up-the-world smile and hugs–plus the laughter that had been silent for so long.

Clipped-in and Crazy

I remember my first triathlon after getting clipless pedals. I had them put on one Thursday. That Friday I rode around the parking lot of city-block sized church and tried not to fall over. I raced on Saturday convincing myself that if all went well all I had to do was clip in once and clip out once and I should be able to handle that. What a ride it was. I could not believe how fast I rode—almost a mile per minute faster overall. I hit T2 with a crazy-ass grin on my face and laughing out loud. Now I understood what the big deal was with clipless pedals.

Rewind for one quick minute. One Saturday, months earlier, I was on a long ride with my evil tri twin, Kelly, and we were heading back on a long ride and pushing up this ungodly hill that makes me humble fast. She had transitioned to clipless pedals seemingly effortlessly. I was not sure that having my feet stuck to pedals was a safe or particularly sane idea.

Anyway, this other biker, a serious biker with a sweet kit, an expensive helmet, and an amazing bike, came upon us on the hill (happens to me all the time). As he passed, he said, “You are killing this hill and you aren’t even clipped in! Just wait until you are!” Needless to say, my ego pedaled the rest of the way that ride. The transition to clipless was scary, to say the least, but once I went for it….it was as amazing as everyone said it would be.

The only fall I’ve had while clipped in was going less than a mile an hour in a parking lot, not watching where I was going…and I hit a curb and tipped over in slow-mo. It was glorious and observed and ignored by many.

Welcome Back, Smile

Evan’s transition has been a transition for many in my family in the best of ways. He has opened hearts and minds of people I wasn’t sure would ever come around. They did because Evan loves himself now and is able to share that love and acceptance with those around him. They came around because they saw his smile return and his personality brighten back up to the magical child he always was. They saw that this transition wasn’t made in haste, wasn’t a phase. There wasn’t anything wrong with Evan or with his friends. There was something very right about him for the first time in a long while.

I don’t know what Evan’s T2 will look like, but I hope when he gets there his bright-green tri mat is well-organized and signed by all those who love and support him—that he is filled with joy and ready for the next stage.

About the Author
TriathaMami is a mother of three who works full-time and had been regularly training for triathlons until "Jack," a nefarious and incredibly annoying schwannoma (nerve tumor), crawled up her spine. The jerk. Pre-Jack, she completed 8 full marathons, 9 half marathons, sprint, Olympic and endurance distance triathlons and a half-ironman.