Last week I was looking for ideas on what to write about. What you look for you find. I came across A Note to My Kid. I was intrigued by their name, so I browsed their website. As it turned out, and to my delight, their "About Us" page read, "A Note to My Kid gives the LGBTQ community, their parents, families and friends the opportunity to share their unconditional love with one another." My mom immediately came to mind. I jumped at the opportunity to submit a note:
To my mom:
As I was growing up, you often told me that I was capable of doing anything I wanted to do, as long as I put my mind to it. I always try to remember your words when I feel challenged. I asked you recently whether you thought I could be a good writer. Writing is new to me. I wanted to make sure you still believed in me just as strongly, and to see whether you would say the same thing. You did, word for word. And it wasn't in a robotic sense. I knew that because you stopped what you were doing and looked me in eyes when you said it. Your words were firm but warm. I could tell you meant it. I could feel it. It wasn't just a confidence boost you gave me; it was almost like a fine reputation was handed to me, one that I now want to meet, and surpass if I can.
I was about 22 when you said that nothing I could ever do would surprise you. I never knew whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. I still don't. I'm afraid to ask! You know I've started writing regularly. You know what I write about, mainly about my being gay and related issues. I don't know whether you read my blogs -- I don't think you do -- but I do know you're proud. You have always nurtured my independent streak. And as much interest that I know you take in my life, I realise you like to stay out of it, in a good way, if that makes sense. You know I tell you the important things, sooner or later!
I told you I'm very passionate about what I write. "I can see that; there's a fire in your eyes," you said. You then asked me, "Will you be out campaigning?" I laughed. "Just let me know in advance if I'm going to have to read about you in the paper," you said with a raised eyebrow and a hint of mischief in your eyes. That look, I know, was clearly for my benefit. Maybe you have watched too many movies. Or maybe you know me too well.
My coming out was so anti-climatic, when I think about it. I don't know what I expected. It was huge to me, but it wasn't to you. It didn't matter. Your look, your tone, your manner -- nothing changed. Nothing was different. I was still me, and it was primarily you who reinforced that in my mind and helped me realise it, without even saying it. You really are rock solid in that respect.
You tell me these days that you knew long before I did. I don't remember now whether I realised that back then. Either way, I thank you for giving me the time to come to terms with it, to get used to it myself before our thoughts met with words. I needed that time. You seemed to know that. You seem to always know best.
I think your only concern was for me. You worried about any difficulties I might face in life because of my sexual orientation. I would never want you to worry about me. I have given you plenty of reason to worry -- I know that, and I'll be the first to admit it -- but that's a whole other story. This is different. This is about who I am. It's a part of me that I have now fully embraced. I see nothing but good in my future because of it, not in spite of it. Now I'm thinking the onus is on me to show you how that worry is futile. If it does still exist, it's unnecessary. It doesn't need to be there. I am happy with who I am, and my future excites me. I hope you know that. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm looking forward to you being a big part of it: my wedding, children... who knows, the options and possibilities are truly unlimited.
Last month you stopped by for a visit. I asked you to read a letter I had written to my younger self. You weren't long into it when you looked at me and giggled. I presumed it was over a line I wrote about haircuts, soccer, and hanging with boys, the typical tomboy aspects of my childhood. I figured my letter was taking you down Memory Lane. Once you'd finished reading, I asked you what had made you giggle, thinking you would simply confirm my thoughts. You didn't. You surprised me. "What haircuts?" you asked. "You mean, it wasn't till you were 15 that you realised you were gay? I thought you knew that much younger. I did!" You were smiling at me. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't work out whether your look was one of disbelief about my being 15 or one of indifference. I guess it makes no difference now.
You didn't say too much about the letter. What you did say had more to do with your thoughts on my writing ability than the sentiment of the letter. If I had been as accepting of myself as you are of me and always have been, I would have been a lot happier a lot younger. Why did I want to struggle so much? Why didn't I talk to you earlier? Having said that, I regret nothing. It's not a bad thing, and I don't want you to think that. I couldn't pay for the lessons I've learned. They're invaluable. It would have been too easy otherwise. I wouldn't have gained the knowledge and understanding that I now have. I know how others feel and what they go through, especially teenagers. I know the double life, the secret life, and I'm now thankful for my experience. It has helped make me who I am. It all worked out for the best, and I wouldn't change it for the world.
If I want you to read this note, I'll probably have to send it to you. Perhaps I'll print and mail it. You love getting post, don't you? Maybe I will surprise you after all. As it happens, this is my 10th blog on The Huffington Post. I'm proud of that, and it means so much more to me because it's about you, Mom. You're my hero.
Abraham Lincoln said, "All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." I wonder whether President Lincoln exceeded his mother's expectations. I wonder whether we ever do. Does any mother have less than the highest of hopes for her children?
To my mom: What can I say but "thank you for being you"? I owe you.