A Hard Promise to Keep

28 01 2013

I woke up this morning after very little sleep and realized I had that feeling again. The feeling of wanting to just stick my head in the sand and pretend today wasn’t here. I immediately wished with all of my heart that it was last week and I was once again surrounded by the beauty of Yellowstone National Park in the winter. Surrounded by peace, and quiet – no civilization, no cell service, just beauty and the feeling that all is well in the world. Then I realized that isn’t reality, nor is it really where I want to be at all. Today will be a hard day, but it is also a blessing.

I will never forget the feeling of looking into all three of my babies faces for the first time. It is not really something one can put into words. I looked down into each of those beautiful faces in awe. I silently made a promise. I don’t really know if I was promising them or just promising myself, but I promised to protect them. I promised to be their buffer in the world. I guess it came down to the fact that I knew pain and I didn’t want them to have to feel it – ever. I think this is one reason that when my son came out it was hard for me. I knew this would be a reason for some people to target him, judge him, ridicule him.

It wasn’t too long before the promise became hard to keep. Illness and hospitalizations, a kid in the nursery bonks them over the head with a block, they begin to experience pain. I should have given up the promise then and come up with another way of seeing it, but I was blind to the bondage I was putting myself in. I now have two grown children and another who is halfway grown and I am just now wising up! Sometimes I am a slow learner.

My job was never to keep them from experiencing pain. All that did was make me feel like a bad mom, riddled with guilt. My job was to give them tools and resources  and ways to deal with the blows that come. Today is going to be a hard day for one of my kids. Today we will walk through something that none of us expected or have experienced. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end. You see, it isn’t my life, it is my child’s life. They get to call the shots. It was also never my job to make their decisions for them or to control what they did. I should have learned that lesson a lot sooner as well. That would have helped me and them as well. I should have never been trying to control things, I should have just been giving tools and resources and letting them do the rest. That is called living and learning and it prepares us a whole heck of a lot more for life than having everything done for us. This also helps the transition in accepting a LGBT child. I laugh when I look back and think of the way I had created some scenario for how my kid’s lives would turn out – like that was EVER up to me anyway! I have my own life to live – this one is theirs.

To be honest, I do wish I could have protected my child from the pain that has led up to today. Because the truth is, when they hurt, we hurt. I must come to grips with the fact that I could not protect them. I had no way of knowing, none of us did. It is back to this simple equation: it is not my life to live, but theirs. I can just hope that I have given enough tools and resources and must let it go. I can not live their lives – they must do that.

My job now is to come and stand beside them in the joy and in the pain. I no longer have the role of provider and guardian. It can be very freeing for all of us really if we transition. The relationship changes, but that isn’t a bad thing. It can be a very good thing. It will never be OK with me to see my children hurting, but I know that it is called living. And they are all three doing a damn good job of it and I am one proud Mama!

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Rest In Peace

12 01 2013

Today we celebrate a champion. She never won an Olympic Gold Metal and most people wouldn’t even recognize her name. She is a champion none the less. Jeanne Manford was a mom. I will be the first to admit that moms are not perfect, but with the exception of a few crazies out there, moms are unique in the love that they give their children. Just get in between a Mama grizzly bear and her cubs if you want an example, although you would probably not live to tell that tale. Moms love their kids like no one else. Jeanne was this kind of mom. In 1972 Jeanne found out that her son, Morty,  had been beaten at a Hilton Hotel in New York City. Morty was gay. People stood by as he was beaten, including New York City Police officers.

Let’s be honest, in 1972 people still thought that if someone “chose” to be gay that they deserved whatever they got. Unfortunately, there are still ignorant people today who think the same way. On the good side, there are far fewer of them and they are decreasing all of the time. This change is brought about by heroes and champions like Jeanne Manford. Jeanne had never been an activist of any sort prior to this event. I can SO identify with that. If someone would have told me that one day I would be championing for a cause, ANY cause, I would have just laughed. It is that love of a mother thing that will get you every time!

So, after Morty recovered Jeanne started what is now PFLAG. It started with about 20 people and has now spread all over the country and even other parts of the world. If you are going to bet against something – probably don’t bet against a mother’s love. We moms are tough old birds when it comes to our kids. We will do things for them that we wouldn’t do for ourselves.

Jeanne sadly passed away this past week, but she will never really “die”. Her legacy will live on in parents around the world who rally with their kids. Not just LGBT parents, but all parents who begin to fight for what they feel will make this world a better place for all of our children. Making this world a better place is a group effort and it will take all of us. Let’s get to work!

Here are Jeanne and Morty in a New York City parade! Thank you Jeanne for standing up and showing us the way to show the world that we love our children unconditionally!

JeaneManford





Gay Dad Project

8 01 2013

Have you seen this? Gay Dad Project

You will enjoy it!! A friend of mine’s daughter is heading it up. If you scroll down to the 2nd story – that is my friend, Pete. It breaks my heart that the discrimination continues today. He is right, it is from the two places all of us should be able to lean on – family and the church. Heartbreaking!!





Parents

7 01 2013

Being a parent is not easy task… I once heard a comedian say “If it was going to be easy, it wouldn’t start with something called labor!” I have learned so much from my kids though, more than I probably actually taught them. I have had to deal with my own “stuff” in order to put them first and be the best parent I could be, which to be honest, was quite lacking at times. There are no perfect parents – and those who think they are, are probably far worse than the rest of us!

My friend, who is a therapist, told me once that if a couple comes into her office and claim that they never fight then she knows she will really have A LOT of work to do with them. It is normal to have conflict in relationships, even healthy. If there is no conflict, then one of the people in the relationship is not using their voice. I think from this perspective that it is ok if a parent struggles with their kid’s coming out. I mean one thing we tend to forget is that by the time a child comes out to their parents, they themselves have already had a lot of processing time. I would like to think that most parents come around, even if it takes a bit of time. I know there are sad exceptions to this rule, but it is true for most of us. We just need a bit of information and someone to tell us things like “get your head out of the gutter and quit thinking of sex!” and we will remember that this is OUR child. The one we fell madly in love with the day we first laid eyes on them.

Love will usually win in the end, even if fear tries to push it aside, and maybe fear wins for a while. Fear may win the battle, but Love will usually win the war. We are in this for the long haul, the marathon – so ignore your sprint time. I will forgive myself for crying for two weeks when my son came out. I am now running the marathon and I don’t have time to beat myself up about my 1st split time. Want to run with me?