Whenever my mother and I argue, I’m transported back to the year 2001 when I came out.
My mother told me I shouldn’t live my life openly as a lesbian until my son turned 16. He was a toddler.
She told me lesbians get AIDS.
She said other things, but those are the two that stick with me, the ones that I carry around in my pockets, even on days when I’m trying to travel light.
We had a disagreement the other day.
And there I was. Back in 2001. Imagine a younger, thinner Middle-age Butch. Kissing Jessica Stein was out in theaters. You could still find reruns of Xena: Warrior Princess on TV. *Sigh*
There is nothing worse than believing that a parent does not accept you for who you are. For who you have always been and will always be. I feel judged for something over which I have no control. I feel like I will never be good enough no matter how many good deeds I do.
I am 47 years old, and I still want my mother’s approval.
When I was an adult, my mother told me how she used to watch me and my brother play football through the kitchen window. We used to play pick-up games of tackle football with the neighborhood kids on the stretch of grass in our backyard.
It is a pleasant childhood memory.
Our yard was bordered by a creek that formed a sideline that flowed quietly as we called plays in loud staccato voices.
Everything was measured in seconds.
One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi …
When we broke down time like that, we could feel each blade of grass, soft-sharp on the palms of our hands, staining our skin and the knees of our jeans lime green. Everything felt electric and alive. The grass, the dirt, the sky, the sun, our young bodies running as fast as our legs could carry us.
My mother says she was “mortified” watching me toss around my male playmates like sacks of flour.
The word “mortified” sticks with me, too.
It means she felt embarrassed, ashamed or humiliated. In French, the word “mort” means death.
In my mind, my mother would rather be dead than have a daughter like me. One who as a child could tackle a boy twice as big (wrap them up at the waist). One who liked boy things. One who still likes boy things. One who likes girls.
When I was blowing off steam with W after the incident with my mother, I jokingly said I should transition to a man. Maybe then my mother wouldn’t be so ashamed of me.
“This is my son,” she could say. “Isn’t he handsome?”
“This is his wife.”
She could pay for the top surgery, we joked.
I wonder if this would make things better or worse.
I don’t have plans to transition.
For right now, I like being me. I like wearing men’s clothes and baseball caps. I like wearing neckties and my Timex Weekender watch with its oversized face. I like watching ballgames and drinking beer. I like tattoos, army boots, sneakers. I like girls. I really like girls. The way they smell. Their curves. Their cleavage. I like going to Home Depot and quietly nodding at the other butches as if we are members of a secret club. I like getting my hair cut so short it feels like velvet on the back of my neck.
I wish my mother got it, got me. At least a little bit, once in awhile.
As I start to lose interest in writing this post, I check my Twitter feed.
Marianne Williamson tweets:
“The past is over. It can touch me not.”
— A Course in Miracles
Good Lord, don’t you hate it when the universe interferes with your sullenness and self-righteousness? Curse you, universe! Curse you, Marianne Williamson! (Makes angry lesbian fist.)
Maybe my mother isn’t the one who needs to change. Maybe I do.