So, I'm Your Mom Now...
Maine this year wasn't my finest moment. I went in all cocky, thinking "Whatever they throw at me, I'll deal with it," but I realized soon afterwards that I was in deeper than I had been before. And breaking down and crying - even though Kitty assured me that didn't make me less of a man - didn't feel like the most dignified response. Usually I'm calm, cool and collected. Seriously, even the first time I got transformed, I formulated a plan of action within moments. This time, I was so overwhelmed, my body was sending me so many stress signals I broke. Hard. But I recovered.
So now I'm Judith Medeiros Walker. Born July 13th 1980, resides in Concord, New Hampshire. Wife of 41-year-old Adrian, mother of 10-year-old Olivia. They had come to Maine for a summer getaway that, according to the dates provided by their letter, coincided with her 36th birthday. Inhabiting her body, I feel extreme differences between this woman who is 5'5 and 160 lbs, and 25-year-old Alan, who stood 6' tall and weighed only slightly more. And even though I've been female before, there's also a big difference between a woman of 36, who has given birth, and a thin, pageant-ready, underfed 18-year-old girl. I can't pretend I don't feel the weight of her years, even though those are years closer to my own mind's, because I've been, well... high on youth for the last two years.
There's a lot of physical discomfort - aches and pains and I think a hot flash or two - that goes with a transformation like that. And I can't help but dwell on all the freedom to sort of "be myself" that I've had to give up overnight. But there are other people to think of, so I decided to put off feeling sorry for myself and focus on that for a while.
The word "mom" feel emblazoned across my scalp in big red letters. I think of Kari - the former Lane. So far she has weathered an entire year as a single-mother to a teen who doesn't even know she isn't her mom, with a crap job and a sleazy boss. I should be so composed. As it is, I at least have the support - at least a little - of Kitty, aka now my "husband" Adrian. And my "daughter" is a kid who transformed along with us. That will make things easier in some ways, maybe harder in others.
I mean, how do you sit down with an 11-year-old boy, a kid who's just coming into his own in the world, and say "So, your parents, who love and protect you, are... babies now." Toddlers, actually, but it's fair to say they won't be doing any parenting anytime soon. And then you have to tell them, "I'm your mom now?" And explain to this boy why his body is that of a girl a couple of years younger than him?
Once I was dry and dressed and ready for the world, I sat down with Dylan, who had flopped down on the bed with his (her) face buried in the pillow, probably having a hard time processing. Rosie and Kitty had done a decent job filling people in on what they needed to know (mostly Rosie,) but it looked like nobody wanted to touch this kid with a ten foot pole.
I knelt down beside the bed and tried to make eye contact. He appeared to be this cute, wide-eyed girl with tan skin and long dark hair. She and I had all the same looks, but I hadn't internalized them yet so it wasn't like I felt like I was looking at an image of myself. But I still felt some responsibility. "Hey buddy... do you know who I am?"
The kid shook his head.
"My name is Tyler. We met for a little while last night. I was sitting in the common room eating dinner with my friends. I looked very different then. I was a man with blond hair. Do you remember?"
"So, we both have been changed into different people. It doesn't hurt, does it?"
A slight pause for consideration, then a shake of the head.
"Good. Now... you and me, we look like girls now. Being a girl is a little different from being a boy, but it doesn't change who you are inside, okay?"
"This isn't forever. What happened to your parents isn't forever. We can set everything right. But it's going to take a year. It's not going to be easy, but this isn't going to be as bad as it seems. Have you ever had to move to a new house? Maybe even a new town?"
Shake of the head, no.
Damn. "Well did you ever have a friend who did? Someone who was new to town?"
"It will be a bit like that. Things will be okay. Just... along with a new house in a new town, you get a new face and a new name."
"A new name?"
"That's right. Your girl has a name. It's Olivia Walker. I know you're really Dylan, but people are going to call you Olivia."
Pause... "I don't like that name."
I smirked a bit. If that was gonna be his only objection, this could be easier than I thought. "Well, I'm not too wild about my new name either, but... you'll get used to it."
The kid was putting things together. He thought it over a minute and asked, "So are you my mom now?"
I sighed. I couldn't help but think back to when my dad introduced me to my stepmom, and I was close in age to Dylan. I thought about what I would have wanted to hear in that situation - what I needed to hear. "I'm more like a... guardian. I'm going to look after you. But I promise to be nice and get you through this as best I can. Your real mom and dad still love you very much, and I know they wish they could be going to the same place as you."
A bit coldly, Dylan observed, "They're babies now."
"Yeah, yeah they are..." I sighed. "But they're gonna be okay. We've got friends who are going to look after them."
"Why didn't I get turned into a baby?"
Fair question. My only answer was... "Because you're lucky. Never forget that, kid. It may not feel like it, but... you are really lucky. You know what? We both are."
Then... he smiled. She smiled. This kid who I only met a couple of days ago, who now has almost the same face as me, who I have to treat like my own flesh and blood - my daughter - and who has every right to be miserable at the world and at me, smiled, because he or she understood that I was right when I said we were lucky.
"Let's get you some clothes that fit and some ice cream. I want to know all about you."
Then I took her by the hand and walked out of the place.
Our First Fight (as the Walkers.)
Kitty was less than enthused about being the man. Honestly, I don't think Adrian is that bad of a landing for her, but she is very fixated on certain aspects of being in a man's body. As she crawled into bed with me at the end of a long day, she remarked how hairy her knuckles were, then added, "Why couldn't some of it stay on top of his head?"
We were less than 24 hours in and I probably heard three references to her baldness already. I tried to reassure her that it wasn't a bad look. Maybe if she shaved her head and lost the "George Costanza" look, she could be quite handsome.
"That's sweet of you to say," she said, leaning in and pecking me on the cheek.
I froze. It was rough and firm and stubbly against my soft skin. "Hey," I said nervously, "I know we were, um... that way together... and Judith and Adrian are married, but... can we wait a while before we start thinking about physical stuff again?"
"Woah," she huffed, "It was just a kiss, Tyler. It's not like I groped your breast or anything."
"No, sure, but... I need to draw the line somewhere. Things are different now, and I need time to... adjust my mentality."
"Of course," she said, obviously not pleased, a little huffy.
We turned out the light and she started to cradle me and I asked "Do you mind not...?"
Bitterly, she rolled over, rocking the bed pretty hard as she did. A moment passed before she spoke, "Tyler, I know you're nervous about this parenthood thing... I am too. Let's just... promise that we're in it together."
"I promise..." I started to say. "No matter what, the kid comes first. Ok?"
We drifted off to sleep.
I was woken up at 10 AM by a knock at the door. I thought, "What now?" I got up, still dressed in my oversized Alan shirt and boxers, and found Rosie, fully dressed - in fact, wearing a bikini with a sarong around her waist.
I looked her up and down, and realized for the first time that there was actually something different about Rosie. The woman who had been given her body had apparently made a concerted effort to lose a lot of weight over the year. Her baggy clothes the day before masked it, but this look was showing it off.
She was still big - tall and bosomy, but her figure was tightened into in hourglass, rather than the more circular silhouette she had last year. (I hate to say it but thinking of the most tactful way to write that sentence hurt my brain.)
I couldn't help but let out a surprised "Daaamn, girl..."
She smiled shyly. "So it's not just my imagination? I really do look this good?"
I snorted a laugh, "Hell, I'd switch with your right now if I could..."
I think she only found it halfway amusing, but she brushed it off. "Well, I was thinking of taking a walk down the beach. See if we can leave the stress of yesterday behind. Any interest in joining?"
"I don't know..." I said. I admired Rosie's bravery for embracing the bikini body philosophy, but I wasn't sure I was at the same place mentally.
Kitty on the other hand, piped in: "Sounds marvelous," she cooed, "Could be a lovely bonding opportunity for us and our new little one."
"Kit," I sighed, "Dylan has had a lot to deal with this week... I don't know if he's going to be up to it."
"Why not?" she huffed, "We can't shelter her forever. Push her boundaries, let her live life."
Unilaterally, Kitty dug into Olivia's Disney Princess-themed bag and pulled out a kids' swimsuit, a white one-piece, ignoring my protests. She brought it over to Dylan and said, in a relatively sweet, motherly tone (albeit with a male bearing,) that we were "all" going to the beach.
"Do I have to?" Dylan whined.
"Absolutely," she said firmly, "It's for your own good. We're going to have fun today, and we want to get to know you."
"I can't wear this, it's a girl's--!" he stopped himself, remembering everything. "Oh. Right."
"You don't have to," I said. "If you want to stay at the Inn with me all afternoon..."
"Ugh, Judith," Kitty said, using my new name to send a sting up my spine, "She's probably tired of sitting around all day. Let her stretch her legs. We're still on vacation."
"Don't call him 'her' if he's not ready for it--" I hissed, "And don't force him to do anything he doesn't want to, including dress in girl's clothes."
"The sooner she gets used to it--" Kitty said, "The world isn't going to look at her and see a boy, why confuse the issue? I won't have her dressing like a boy, and... and make her brush her hair, it's all tangled, she looks like an urchin!"
I was exasperated. "Dylan... what do you want to do?"
He looked at the swimsuit on the bed next to him and ran his fingers through his tangled hair. "Ok. I like the beach. I could wear this."
Kitty smiled and looked at me real smug, like she had won the first round in what's gonna be a long conflict. It's not hard to see how she and I might have different philosophies on parenting. Still, we went for a nice walk along the beach, enjoyed the breeze... I had thrown on a very plain beige ankle-length dress that Judith owned that, aside from not hiding my derriere, was pretty modest and comfortable. The kid seemed to be able to forget his life was being turned upside down for a little while, but there was a tense silence between me and "Adrian." I preferred to talk to Rosie, about what her plans were for getting back to her regular life, and she confided that she wasn't exactly sure she was going back to her "regular life." I'll let her tell it, though.
I had a hard time enjoying our little outing, but for a little while I bet we almost looked like a family. When we got back, we say Abbie and Kendra packing up. Abbie was very frazzled as they tried to keep track of necessities for the kids, Kendra more quiet, lugging bags here and there.
"So," I said, "Leaving already..."
"Yeah..." Kendra sighed. "My 'new job' won't wait much longer, and it's a long drive. I'm still not used to it, but I think Abbz is taking it harder. I don't think she ever saw herself as a mother."
"Me neither," I said. "Listen, if you ever need anything..." I said, "I mean, I want to keep in touch anyway. It'll be good for Dylan."
She looked over in the car at the two sleepy kids in there. "Are you sure it's healthy for him to see them like this?"
"Maybe not," I said, "But I don't want him to forget them, or them to forget him."
She offered me a handshake. Though her body is not that much bigger than mine - she probably stands about 5'9 - her hand enveloped mine completely. I always hated noticing how small I was as Lauren, and now it was even worse.
Rosie would be leaving soon too. Before I knew it I would be in New Hampshire with my new family. And that would be my life for the next year or so.
I felt that headache returning...
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