Theresa is a mom to three grown children – one son (33) and his beautiful wife, one daughter (30) and her wonderful life partner and another daughter (27) and her wife of one year. Here, she discusses the path of acceptance and parenting gay children.
I believe that every mom has dreams for what and who their children become. Having gotten my children to adulthood, now I know we can only do the best we can and give them our strength and values and they will take it from there…
My first child came out in her 3rd or 4th month of being away in college. My husband and I were “empty nesters” and having a pretty good time getting used to being by ourselves for the first time in over 20 years. I remember the day like it was today, we were getting ready to go to an afternoon movie. I was in our bedroom putting on my shoes when he said he was going out to get the mail. He came in the house and I was jabbering along about where we could go for dinner afterwards when I looked up and saw him standing in our doorway with a piece of paper in his hands. He said “we have a letter from Kari and she is gay” I thought he was joking and got up and walked by. He came after me and said “no really, see she is” and handed me this piece of lined white notebook paper with her handwriting in pencil and in the middle of the page it simply said “Mom, Dad: I am gay. Call PFLAG.”
Surely, someone was playing a cruel joke on me. When you think of the dreams that you have for your children and for your daughters, they involve meeting a nice man, getting married, having your grandchildren. Well, they did for me.
My response, which after lots of reading, a very strong husband and a wonderful therapist is now amusing was “go to church and join a club!” Looking back now I cannot believe I said that but I did. “Go to church, join a club!” Like that would fix it.
I went through mourning and I mean mourning. I sobbed in my husbands arms many times for the next few months. What did I do wrong? Where did I fail her? What a terrible mom I was. I always reinforced that I loved her no matter what, but I, myself, felt like a failure. About five years or so later, my other daughter came out of the closet as well. Two totally different daughters, both loving, caring, strong and beautiful. And, gay.
I remember thinking that drugs could be explained, pregnancy can be explained, dropping out of college could be explained, depression and so on but how to you explain being gay? Sure, it’s in the genes, but how is it in our genes? I like answers, and I just don’t have one for this. When I die and before I go through the pearly gates I plan on asking St. Peter how I got chosen to have two gay daughters! But, it doesn’t really matter— it’s been a long journey, but I love and accept who they are. I have three of my own children and three beautiful daughter in laws. Life is good.
Hopefully grandchildren are in the journey ahead!