Mom and Mom and Me

There are only a handful of times that I remember seeing my mother
cry. Last week, I was privileged enough to have that number
increase by one. I went back to my alma mater, and spoke in the
Sociology of Gay and Lesbian Relationships class. I brought my
mother and her partner and we did a presentation on who our family
was, how we came to be, and what the experience of the transition
was like. I couldn’t have been more humbled and honored than I
was during these powerful 30 minutes.

My mother began her story of coming out in sparkling smiles—this
is how my mom approaches all of life and it’s one of the traits I
am proud to have learned from her. As the she continued though, the
tears began to fall. She talked about how thankful she was to have
come out to her mother before she was, very recently, diagnosed
with dementia. She spoke about how hard it was to tell me and my
brother that she was going to get a divorce and that she was gay.
Her tears spoke of all the guilt she felt about the fears she had
around who she was negatively affecting my brother and I. This is
when I stepped in and reaffirmed something that feels so simple to
me, but to a mother who wants everything to be okay is
understandably far from simple. I told her that I’d never been
more proud. That getting a divorce and being gay didn’t affect me
negatively. It showed me how to be authentic, how to be true to
myself, and that every difficult situation has a solution. It
proved to me that my mother was human and that yes, she was a
mother figure, but she was so much more than that. She was my
friend, my confidante, and just as real as could be. I am who I am
because of my mother and not one part of me will ever wish

My mother’s partner, Elise, told the moving story of how she came
out to her own mother and it brought most of the class to
tears—it was a story I had never personally heard and a story
that brought me so much more understanding and love.  As a young
woman, Elise told her mother that she was gay and instead of
embracing this with love, her mother put all of her belongings on
the lawn and shut the door. I have heard this story before, from
other people and in less personal contexts, but it broke my heart
in a new way to hear this from someone who was so close to me in my
life. An interesting twist is that Elise’s mother now lives with
her and my mother because of health-related reasons. This just goes
to show how important forgiveness is in all of our lives……In
addition, Elise also said something that still gives me goosebumps.
She thanked me for giving her the chance to have a daughter, to
give her a chance at something that she thought she’d never have.
Wow. What an honor. What an absolute treat to have Elise……..