I remember seeing Into the Woods in theaters when I was about four months pregnant with the boys. The baker’s wife longs for a child, and they agree to help the witch break a spell in order to lift their curse of infertility. They lie, cheat, and steal essentially to get what they need. I remember being very hormonal at the time with memories of our infertility journey still quite fresh. I rested both my hands over my stomach protectively throughout the entire movie. I was moved to tears by their struggles because I could empathize with them.
There is a general view in society of women as weak and fragile, especially around pregnancy and children. I’ve had clients in my office at the age of 50 who have never had children for one reason or another and they are practically in mourning because of that emptiness from never conceiving.
Becoming a mother changed me. I never knew I could love some one so fiercely and be made so vulnerable by them so easily. Those boys simultaneously melt me and drive me insane. Every sleepless minute in that first year when I was so close to breaking down so many times I would remember the longing I had to be a mom and that would keep me going. I frequently just changed my mental state by remembering that hollow feeling I had every time we had a negative pregnancy test.
I’ve said it before and will say it again. Children of lesbian and gay couples are wanted. Yearned for. That doesn’t mean we all know how to be great parents. Because we are human. There are days I’m like just give me five minutes in the bathroom please. I came into my bedroom once and saw one of my sons twisting my 200.00$ pair of eyeglasses around and totally lost my shit. When the same son later bit my arm, hard enough to leave a bruise, I also lost my mind a bit. I placed him in timeout and walked away for a minute because I needed to not see him for a period of time. But then there are times when they talk to each other, and hug each other, and the first time I ask for a kiss and they come and kiss my cheek, or the times I nursed them and they would wrap their little arms around me in such serenity.
These mommy-ing moments make me and break me. Same for my wife.
It physically pains me to think of not seeing them or not speaking to them, or having them grow up and leave forever. That’s why woman to woman and mom to mom I’m talking to every woman who has disowned her gay or transgender kid. How the hell did you do it? I’m not asking out of judgement just frank curiosity. Because I literally could not imagine doing that. I can imagine setting limits with them as adults if there were things I didn’t agree with. For example if they were stealing from me or something wild like that, then I would set boundaries. To be clear I wouldn’t cut them out of my life, but I would take their house key or something. At the end of the day they’d still be my kid. I’d still think back to that emptiness that overwhelmed me while we were trying to conceive. Then I’d just melt.
It’s like in The Birdcage. Robin Williams tries telling his 20 year old son if he gets married he’s done with him. His son says okay dad, if that’s how you want it, and he goes to shake his hand and say good-bye. Robin Williams pulls him into this tight embrace and looks like he is smiling and crying, “You little fucker you called my bluff” . That scene is so powerful and has always stuck with me. They do an amazing job at portraying an unbreakable Father-Son bond. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how it would go with me and my sons if they ever came home with a bombshell like that. I’d talk tough but they would know that no matter what I’d pull them back into that embrace and just never let them go.
I’ve spoken to mom’s of all ages and when they hear my wife’s story of being disowned they all just get this look, I think it’s the pained Mama Bear look, like they are trying to imagine any one hurting their child in such a deep way and it pisses them off. Most of them just can’t fathom it. I’ve never talked to a mom who’s said, “Oh yeah I can totally see myself doing that to my kid.” It’s unimaginable on a visceral level.
When I became a Mom at some point during the first couple months I made a conscious decision. No more judging other parents. Because I realized how freaking hard it is to be a parent. Gay or straight parenting is hard. I have stuck by that decision and it has been so good for me. Passing judgement is easy but it’s not helpful for anyone. I’m trying very hard to not judge these decisions made by mothers but I’m also trying to understand them and that’s where I’m getting a little lost. Because I just don’t understand and no matter how much bible verse is quoted at me I still won’t understand.
Every child no matter her age yearns for love, acceptance, and approval from her parents. To every Mom who has disowned your child for their sexuality or gender identity. My heart aches for your child and for the unnecessary heartache you’ve brought upon you both. It’s never too late to reach out with acceptance and love. There are women who literally lose their minds because they are unable to be a mother. I know I almost did.
Being a Mom is more than just a gift or a blessing. It defines you in so many ways, and it tests you, and to just walk away from that because your kid wants to sleep with someone of the same gender is mind-blowing to me. There are so many worse things that could happen. Kids die. Mom’s are not made because they cannot conceive. Why would you not take every second you possibly can having a relationship with your child?
My children are like my oxygen and I struggle with not passing judgement. Every day. Because without them I literally wouldn’t want to breathe. And I would never willingly give up my relationship with them.