"Mom, I Think I'm Gay": A Lesson in Unconditional Love
Nineteen years ago on Mother’s Day weekend, I walked into the hospital pregnant, tired and in labor. After laboring most of the day before and throughout the night I was beyond ready to get the show on the road. Refusing medication I found myself at times near tears and ready to give up. With encouragement from my husband and the sweetest Jamaican nurse by my side Melinda Grace was born at 7:03 p.m. and our lives were forever changed. As I held my little girl for the first time I thought my heart would explode. I would love this little person forever and nothing could ever get between us. Mine was an unconditional love that would never waiver.
Throughout the years my little girl grew and filled my life with joy. We welcomed her brother nearly six years later. Once again I thought that nothing could shake the unconditional love I had for my children. After all there was nothing in this world that could make me stop loving them. As they grew there were times when my patience was tested and tempers would flare but that unconditional love would always carry me through. And then one day, out of the blue my girl told me something that shook me to the core. (Actually, she told her daddy first and he told me.) “Mom, I think I am gay”. Unfortunately, I did not react in the best, most unconditionally loving way a mother should. You see, I had this idea that my daughter would grow up, get married, have a couple of children and be happy; those were my plans for her. How dare she change the plans that I had made for her? I was not going to allow this to happen; she had other ideas and I was not sure I could handle this.
For nearly two years, our relationship was more of an existence filled with solitude and broken hearts. I never stopped loving my girl, but man it was tough to figure out how to come to terms with this new way of life for her, for me, for our family. Living in a rural community with a lot of closed minds and strong views on homosexuality I felt like I was going to come un-glued; she became isolated and removed from everything but school work. After seeking much needed help to begin to sort out my feelings and begin to understand and mend the brokenness between us we are finally in a better place together. As ashamed as I am of my earlier behavior, I now know that the love I have for her never went away but I put conditions on it.
It was the deep love I have for her that pushed me to the brink of wanting to protect her from an unkind, cruel, judgmental world; unfortunately that was exactly what I was doing to her. As the momma, I am supposed to be the one who teaches life lessons to my kids. For me, it was the other way around. Throughout this journey I have discovered that so much of what I had learned in my early years had to be let go, un-learned if you will, so that I could re-learn what a mother’s love is supposed to be; unconditional. And the lessons that I have re-learned have been taught by my daughter. She is my example of unconditional love. She does not judge, ridicule, put down or segregate. She loves all without judgment, reluctance or condition. She accepts what is given and allows differences to be without question.
As this Mother’s Day comes around I have no real request for gifts or special trinkets. When we gather around our dinner table that special day, my girl will have just come home from her first year of college and have celebrated her 19th birthday. Moving forward in our journey together as a family our differences will remain but they will not define our love for one another. My vow this Mother’s Day is to never let anything get in our way again and to allow both of my children the freedom to be who they are without question, condemnation or condition. Famed author Nicholas Sparks said “What it’s like to be a parent: It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.” A lesson that I am thankful for learning even if it was the hard way.