Wednesday, May 28, 2014

An open letter to moms of GLBTQ kids

A coworker and friend wrote this letter and posted it on Facebook, and she has given me permission to share it here. Nichole and I worked in the same office for several years, but we didn't talk much until her son Coulter was born prematurely. NICU crises make fast friends! We started getting together for coffee, but sadly for me, she moved to Philadelphia a few years ago to be near family. I miss having her in Portland, but thank goodness for Facebook! She wrote this on her commute this morning, and I love it.

Much of this applies to dads too (Nichole's husband Sean is a stay-at-home dad and household manager like mine, in addition to being a creative genius), but she's writing it from her perspective as a mom.

Nichole and Sean in the NICU
As many of the recent court decisions supporting marriage equality have been in the news, I'm seeing a rise in the number of young people on Facebook, Twitter, equality forums, etc. lamenting that their parents are struggling to accept this paradigm shift. I’ve been thinking so much about how this happens. How do we go from supportive parents to this?
Mommas, remember when they were little and new, and so very helpless? Remember being up every two hours coddling, rocking, feeding, looking into those wee little eyes, and feeling the curled fingers on their tiny hands and we are thinking, "I could not be more in love.

With her son
Remember spending nights administering medicine, rubbing bellies, and soothing nightmares and days kissing boo boos, running after bicycles, and arranging play dates? We send them to camp, pay for them to explore their creative sides, encourage them to understand the natural world, to be question askers and problem solvers. We tell them to stand up for themselves, that they have the right to be anything they want to be...we teach them empathy and compassion. We sit through school plays and hang up art work on the fridge, we quote them to our friends, noting how genius their statements are. We practice for spelling bees and learn algebra again so we can help with homework. We wash their blankies, and buy their favorite foods, and we love them so freaking much that it feels like our hearts might explode. We dream about what they will say when they win their first gold, or graduate from college, or become president. We hope they say, “I’d like to thank my mom…”

 ….and then one day, on a day that might be especially difficult for them, when they have something to tell us that is life changing, we turn our backs. We tell them we are uncomfortable with what they are saying, and therefore, we choose to damage the relationship we have fostered for so many decades. We choose to say things to hurt this child that we have loved, encouraged, supported, and challenged from their first cries. We do this why? Out of fear. Mommas, I hear you. You're afraid and worried about what the future holds for your babies. You're scared the world will be mean to them, point and laugh, wonder who will take care of them when they're old, should they choose not to be parents themselves. You lay awake at night hoping they're safe and happy and running through parenting scenarios in your head to double check if you could've done better. Moms, this isn’t unique to you. We all do this. This is called unconditional love, and it is what we signed up for when we decided to have this baby.

You have spent so much time building them up, protecting and fighting for them. Now is no time to walk away, mommas. Now, is the call for action. Now, you have a choice. Your kid, that kid, who cried in your arms when she wasn’t invited to the cool girl’s 10th birthday party; that kid, whose friends laughed at him when he fell off his bike; the child whose heart was broken when his pet fish died...that kid needs you, now more than ever. Look into your heart and remember how to be that mom. Someone out there, who has never met your child, seen his brilliance, heard him sing, watched him dance, is telling him that he has fewer rights than other kids. Whoa...are you okay with that? You told him to realize who he was, to live a whole life, to battle his demons, and now someone else is taking that from him.
No one is asking you to join PFLAG tomorrow or get a rainbow tattoo on your ankle (although if you want to get organized, visit www.PFLAG.org and I suggest a tattoo on the back for women our age). Take baby steps. Call your kid, go to lunch, talk, ask questions, maybe someday you can meet his boyfriend.

Walking the talk
You’ve done a fantastic job Mom, you raised a kid who is true to who she is. If she is getting married, then you also raised a person that was chosen by another as a soulmate. Wow--what an honor. Someone in this world thinks your kiddo is so freaking amazing that she is devoting her whole life to being her partner. Way to knock it out of the park, momma! Dig deep in your belly, to remember that biological pull that is “mother” and be that person your kid needs right now.

Remember the time you sat on the side of the stage when she was the lead in the play and forgot the words, and you mouthed them to her through cupped hands and you sent signals to her with your eyes that said, “you were born for this…you can do this, I believe in you like no other. I am your momma and no one can hurt you…not on my watch."

Thanks, Nichole, for sharing your profound words of wisdom and love for your children and all children who are struggling to be their true selves.

5 comments:

  1. Beautiful and profound. Thanks to Nichole for writing it.

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  2. You are the best, Nichole. Seriously.

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  3. Wow, very inspiring Nichole you make me wanna share this with my mother! thank you, for this!!

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  4. Beautifully said. You go momma!

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  5. In times of discrimination and painful comments, it was so very nice to read this article. There is hope in this world! Huge Mahalo (thank you) to you, Nichole

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