When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit, By Jennifer Angelina Petro


When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit




Jennifer Angelina Petro



As I was reminded at church today, Mother’s Day may be hard for some people. Some, like me, have lost their mother’s–in my case, six years ago. And while I can still celebrate her life she isn’t physically present to go out to lunch with or something like that. Others never had a mother–in the sense of one being present in their lives. Others couldn’t have children and desperately wanted to. Others have lost their children to miscarriages or other tragedies. Still others have had mothers who were abusive or negligent. And still others have a strained relationship with their mothers, and some mothers have a strained relationship with their children.

There are also people like me–people who lived most of their parenting lives as “Dad.” I will always be Dad to my kids–I know I was a father to them and I am glad for that. I am also their mother. So, for me, Mother’s Day is very special. I get to parent in a whole new way and in the same ways I did before coming out. Luckily for me my kids are amazingly supportive and I have already received Mother’s Day greetings from them. However, I am also one of those people who has always (even before coming out as trans) ached to be able to have children—I was always deeply envious of pregnant mothers. I have always ached to be able to nurse a child. I have come to accept neither of these things will ever happen–and I am no less a mother. So, to all the non-binary “Moms” or people who act as mothers to others–regardless of their gender. Happy Parent’s Day to you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people out there who mother other people’s children—teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians.  Blessings to all the foster moms and moms who have adopted children from around the world or their own communities.

And to all the grandmothers and aunts who have taken on the role of mother again because of special circumstances.  Blessings to all the grandmothers who simply get to grandmother grandchildren, and do so with wisdom.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the single Dads who serve as mothers all day, everyday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who have consciously chosen to not bear or raise children.  I am willing to bet there is someone or something in your life that you mother, and do so with grace, dignity, and love–be that a pet, a plant, a poem, or a person.

And of course, Happy Mother’s Day to ourselves–no matter who we are–for we all, one day, must begin, and never stop, mothering ourselves. It is just the way that it is–we all become our own mother’s one day–giving birth over and over again to ourselves.

To wrap up I would like to lift up all those for whom Mother’s Day is a hard day. Your soul and spirits are Mothers. You have been mothered by the world. You are Mothers of the world.

And also grieve, or be angry. Seek safe support to be with you today as you move through any difficult or challenging feelings and memories.

You are loved. You are special. And you are held in the hands of Mother Gaia.







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My First Father’s Day Being a Mom, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

My First Father’s Day Being a Mom


Jennifer Angelina Petro

 rough and tumble


My boys say they’re OK.

When I asked them how they felt about it being Father’s Day, they said they were OK.  One asked if he still needed to get me something.  Another said he worked double time on Mother’s Day making cards for two moms and now he appreciates the day off.

I have the best kids ever.

When I think of the times I held them as infants on my chest and sang to them, when I think of pulling them in wagons and pushing them in strollers—all the times carrying them in front packs, the fishing trips, the chasing after ice cream trucks, the making bread and chimichangas, all the times we drew together, all the stories I told at bedtime, all the snake hunts and ootheca searches (praying mantis nests), all the movies (watching Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies over and over and over), all the times playing catch or pitching to them, or the time I took them out of school (along with my students) to take them to see the Parade downtown when the Phillies won the World Series in 08; the teaching them to drive, the times sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking soda and looking at books, the teaching the few guitar chords I know, the screaming at the top of my lungs at Battle of the Bands, the being so proud when they won first place–It wasn’t a lie.  All that daddying.  All that fathering.  It was real.  Always will be.  Nothing will ever change my having been their father.  No matter what anyone says, nothing can ever take those memories away.

My kids can see him in the old photographs with his scruffy goatee, scruffy clothes, silly grin.  They can see hear him in my voice and see him in my hands and face.

But I am Mom Number Two.  Always was.  It’s just none of us knew it until now.

My boys are my treasures.

I love them with all of my heart.

And not just because they support me as a transgender parent, not just because they have taken this whole journey so well, and with such class, love, and good humor; but because they are good and decent people, they are my flesh and blood.  They are my kids.  Nothing will ever change that.  No matter what I look like.  No matter what happens to this body.  Nothing can ever take away twenty years of fathering.

Nothing will ever change that I love them to the moon and back.  And always will.


Ben's graduation 2016

A family photo at Ben’s graduation this June, 2016.  He’s the middle one, with Sam to his right, and Daniel to his left–and then Mandy, Mom Number One, and then me, Jennifer, Mom Number Two.





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Reflections on My First Official Mother’s Day, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Some Thoughts on My First Official Mother’s Day


Jennifer Angelina Petro


yellow rose



Being assigned the wrong gender when I was born had three wonderful unforeseen consequences much later in life: my three sons.  No matter how unsettled I was inside I loved being a dad.  I sang Van Morrison songs to the kids when they were still in the womb.  When they were born I placed them on my chest and sang them to sleep as I rocked them in the rocking chair.  I prayed over them, blessed them, and wrote them songs.  I took them on wagon rides and to play grounds and parks.  When they were older I took them bug hunting, snake hunting, puppy hunting, and ice cream truck hunting.  I remember one day chasing an ice cream truck around the neighborhood after school until we were able to get close enough to run after it.  We went fishing.  I dragged them to used bookstores.  I taught them the love of nachos, Mr. Bean, and baseball.  When we went to Michigan I bought them enough candy to last them on a drive to Idaho.  I drew with them.  I drew for them.  I taught them guitar chords.  I bought them guitars, drums, mandolins, trombones, keyboards, amps, and drums.  Of course, these are things any mother could do.  That isn’t my point.  My point is I did those because I loved being a parent—a parent who thought they were a dad doing what they thought, at the time, were dad things.  As it turns out, I did all these things as a mother—they were both motherly and fatherly.


I longed (and still do long) to be pregnant and carry a child. I am well aware that will never happen.  I deeply wanted to breast feed a child.  I am well aware that will never happen either.  And while these are saddnesses I will carry always to one degree or another, I have accepted the facts.  On the eve of my Mother’s Day, I find myself feeling strange, and in sort of a limbo.  I did my usual texting to the kids today to remind them to get something for their mom—Mom Number One.  I told them not to get me anything.  Part of me wants them to always think and remember me as dad, and yet, speaking of facts, I am a mom—a mom who gave birth to herself while she was still parenting her own children.  Mother and matter are related in their Latin roots.  They mean source—the stuff of the world—the feminine force of things.  I have been, without knowing it, motherly giver and the source of origin for many things in the lives of my children.  Father, in Latin (Dutch, vader—now you know what the “Vader” means in Darth Vader.), means paternal and Supreme Being; I have not been a supreme being except for when they were infants and in my arms or in my care in the woods, or when they were young and I made up stories for them stories until they fell asleep.  I have been paternal to my children.  I have cared for them when they were sick.  I have laid down with them when they had nightmares.


Being motherly and fatherly makes me a genderqueer parent.  And as the physical symptoms/manifestations of being wrongly assigned male at birth are slowly kneaded and shaped into the female parts I have always wanted, the fatherly form will fade, yet the fatherly spirit will always remain.  And as the physical form of my real gender identity is fashioned, the motherly spirit will grow.  I am a two-spirit parent who has untied things that have always been, from the beginning of time, united.


On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for my three children.  I am grateful for my own mother.  Many of my relatives believe she is turning over in her grave at her “Joey,” being a “Jennifer,” and these are difficult fears for me to shake.  I want to believe she would be happy and only care if I was happy.  She would be worried sick about my impending future—no doubt about that—she would be telling me of all the teaching jobs open in Michigan, but she would be happy I am happy.   I am also grateful to Mandy—the one who physically carried the kids and gave birth to them.  She has been, and is, a wonderful mom.  And on this, my first Mother’s Day, I am grateful for me and this wild, miraculous journey I am on.


So Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s Out there—no matter what gender you are or aren’t.


Happy Mother’s Day to me.




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