Tag Archives: mothers

Mom stuff

My son turned 18 yesterday.

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Middle-age Butch and son back in the day

It was around 11:30 p.m. that the doctor said we would be celebrating his birthday on May 16.

I wasn’t have any of that next day stuff. After a few pushes, he entered the world on May 15, a few minutes before midnight. A month and a half before his due date.

He is stubborn like his mother.

From the beginning, he was setting his own schedule and interrupting any plans I had for a normal pregnancy and delivery.

When he finally came home from the hospital, he weighed a little over 5 pounds. I kept him tucked in the crook of my arm like a football.

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Do you speak sports?

I  assumed he would speak the same language that my dad, my brother and I speak: sports. He doesn’t.

He doesn’t speak books or movies or superheroes or any of my other languages.

He speaks his own, a mix of technology and disdain for everything I like.

He has always been a difficult child. Insisting on paving his own path and refusing to conform to the most basic of rules. He wears shorts in the winter. Says the sky is green. Eats soup from a plate.

I get frustrated. I use the word “normal” more than I want to and then hate myself for doing so. I often worry about what other people will think. When I step back, I can see I am recreating my own childhood.

W always tells me we are supposed to learn from our children. That we can find healing in the parent-child relationship.

I never really understood this.

IMG_1177I have a quote taped to the front of my printer. “Be who you needed when you were younger,” it says.

It reminds me to keep reaching out to young people to tell my story so they can be comfortable with their own.

I wonder if the answer has been there all along.

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

Maybe I’m supposed to parent my son the way I needed to be parented. Accepting him as he is.

Maybe that’s what finally sets me free.

It all goes back to the past (or does it?)

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.

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Xena, this lesbian misses you.

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 …

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Everything seemed electric and alive.

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.

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This is where the secret meetings of butch lesbians take place.

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.

 

Trying to get the stars in my life to align

Whac-A-MoleI told W the other night that I feel like I can never get things right.

Like right now, things with W and I are going really well, but my relationship with my folks is on the rocks.  I can’t seem to maintain all of the important relationships in my life simultaneously.

It’s like a real-life game of Whac-A-Mole.  Once I get one relationship firing on all cylinders, a relationship in need of work pops up.  I don’t seem to have enough wooden mallets or enough arms to keep everything in place.

Stars in the shape of a heartWhen I’m not thinking of the relationships in my life in terms of unpredictable moles, I see them as stars in the night sky.  They shine against the darkened backdrop, their brightness varying.  When one of the stars is dimmed by conflict and confusion, it can’t link to the others and contribute to a bigger picture.  These days, I just can’t seem to connect all of the stars in my life so that they form some sort of grand constellation.

I’ve been in some sort of tiff with my mother for almost 10 years.

If she was here right now, she’d probably tell you that she can’t seem to do anything right when it comes to me.  She once told me that she often hangs up the phone after our conversations and tells my dad that she “blew it” once again.

This breaks my heart.  That my mother experiences pain because of me.  That our mother-daughter relationship is so mangled that neither one of us can get it right.

I could write about the million ways that my mother has wronged me over the years.  I keep that list in my head and at the ready.  I’m always quick to point a finger at her and often scroll down that mental list for justification.

Number 52: You wouldn’t let me go to Boston University for college.  I would be so much more hip and evolved if I had attended an urban school.

Number 103: You let Michael stay out later because he was a boy.  It was the 80’s — not the 50’s — for crying out loud.  This contributed to my skewed perception of gender roles and stereotypes.

But that’s too easy.  Fish.  Barrel.  Dynamite.  Kaboom!

Besides, I thought it might be more productive to focus on the positive things.

A few things that made my mother a great parent

  • Sometimes she would stick packs of cards — like Wacky Packs — in our packed school lunches.
  • She used to buy me the latest and the greatest sneakers.  Like my first pair of Nike Roadrunners (light blue with a navy blue stripe) in 1976.  I don’t think my dad knew how much they cost.
  • When it snowed, she would make peanut butter cookies with crisscrossing fork prints and hot chocolate.
  • She liked the Three Stooges.
  • She taught me how to drive because my dad lacked the patience and yelled too much.
  • She never embarrassed me in front of my friends.
  • She let us camp out on the couch when we were sick and made us jelly and butter sandwiches and brought us glasses of ginger ale.
  • One Valentine’s Day when Craig Magachy showed up at our door in a suit bearing a card and a heart-shaped box of candy, she discreetly hid the candy and promised to keep the whole thing on the down low so that my brother wouldn’t find out about my pint-size pursuer and tease me.
  • She chaperoned every one of my grade school field trips.
  • She always made sure that I had everything that I needed.

I hope that I can remember this list more often instead of that other one that runs as a continual news feed in my brain.

Who knows, maybe it will change things.  It certainly can’t hurt.

Maybe this is the one relationship that I need to get right and burning bright to get my relationship constellation.