You probably figured out from the title that this isn’t going to be some sugar-coated posting that could send you into diabetic shock or running to the dentist. There’s a very good reason for that, and it is actually related to my blog’s main message about how to support our GLBT kids.
We make a big hoo haw about one Sunday in May. Restaurants all over the country inflate their brunch prices. Hallmark makes a killing. There’s a run on geraniums.
I won’t get to spend Mother’s Day with my son. And I’m perfectly fine with that. He has to work. I told him to save the $4 and skip the card, too. He’s a recent college grad who will be starting graduate school in the fall. In this day and age, he’ll be lucky if he can earn enough when he graduates to cover his student loan payments! So no, I don’t want my kid to spend the money on me. But even more, I really don’t believe that he owes me anything.
Not on Mother’s Day and not on any other day either.
The truth is, I chose to become a mom. Sure, I thought I knew what I was getting into (ah, the ignorant bliss). I didn’t. It was much more wonderful and exhausting than I could ever have conceived at the age of 23. Becoming a mom was easy. Being a mom was tough. It stretched me and changed me and has left its marks on me like no other relationship. After 23 years of parenting, I now live in my skin knowing the depth of my capacity to love and sacrifice. That’s the true gift: 365 days per year, 366 on leap years.
But the journey was not without its bumpy spots. Here’s a scenario that I faced four years ago in the Fellowship Hall at church. It was Potluck Sunday. I was eyeing all the variations of broccoli/cheese/chicken/rice/hamburger/macaroni hot dishes (this is written by a Native Minnesotan ~ to all my readers in the other 49 states, hot dish = casserole) when someone innocently asked me if my son, who was a Freshman in college, was dating anyone.
I froze, hand holding a spoon over the congealed concoctions, and stammered, “Oh no, he doesn’t have a girlfriend right now. He’s focusing on his studies.” It wasn’t a lie, I told myself. He doesn’t have a girlfriend.
Four years and a whole lot of loving (and praying/reading/seeking) later, I can admit a tough truth. I really screwed up on that Potluck Sunday. In fact, I sold my kid out.
“WHAT?” you demand. “Juliann, you have never, ever done any such thing. You are a good mom. You deserve that geranium.”
Why thank you. I appreciate your support. But the truth is I side-stepped giving an honest answer because I was more worried about what my friends would think than I was about standing up for my child.
Ouch, that pinches. Hard truths always do.
Here’s the good news: I will never, ever portray my son as heterosexual in order for me to blend in again. I get it now.
Here’s what I’ve learned: my son’s life is his own. He has a RIGHT to live his life in a manner that brings him joy and fulfillment. He doesn’t owe me a gosh darn thing.
I get to love him and parent him. That’s the deal. And man, have I won the jackpot. But nowhere in the fine print of my mother-son contract is it written that I also get to choose where he lives as an adult, what work he goes into, or who he loves. THAT IS NOT FOR ME TO DECIDE.
So bring it on: the half-melted cherry coke jello salad, the crescent rolls, the German chocolate cake (delish!), and the questions. Ask me about my son and who he’s seeing. I’m totally cool with that. In fact, it’s a conversation that we should be having in all the Fellowship Halls in all the churches around this divided nation.
I’ve got to go now. The doorbell just rang. Looks like FTD Flowers is here. Oh my, I am blessed.
Happy Child’s Day, everyone!