22 years ago today my eldest child was born. At this very hour, I was at the hospital waiting to get checked in at the hospital with my husband pacing nervously around me. We did this another two times and both were equally memorable. However, the first time was a little different because it was completely new terrain. I knew I wanted to be a parent but it is the understatement of the century to say I didn’t know what I was getting into. LOL. During my pregnancy I read “What To Expect While Expecting” religiously and listened to advice of my more experienced friends and relatives, while vowing to get this kid thing down right. I was determined we would raise the most amazing baby/kid/man ever!
Well… we did. But I learned there is no end date in parenting. You don’t complete a course and you never graduate. We are all, regardless of age and intelligence, works in progress. If any of those books had been worth a shit, they’d come with a disclaimer that might read: All children are individuals with individual needs and requirements. And like it or not, there is no such thing as perfection. You are bound to make mistakes. Continually.
Me? Make mistakes? Yeah, it’s possible the advice and self help books were geared more toward a middle of the road experience in life than a rainbow colored one. My kid wasn’t like the other kids. Then again, I wasn’t like other “normal” parents. I should have clued in when he steered clear of the clown at his 1st birthday party that I wasn’t going to raise a perfect kid because I was delusional at best about my ability to achieve “perfect”. Seriously…a clown? Complete with creepy makeup and a Bozo wig. WTF was I thinking? Or when I regularly diluted apple juice with water thinking it was healthier, only to be surprised on a daily basis at how yucky it was to change his diaper. Really. I was well-meaning but a little dopey.
I didn’t get it all wrong. I was and still am a fierce mama bear. I volunteered in the classrooms, even did a couple stints as room mom and team mom, thinking that was what good parents did. While it felt good to help out, I soon realized it wasn’t necessarily what my son needed. I was lost. How was I supposed to parent a kid I was sure I had nothing in common with? Who could I ask for guidance when my son didn’t get invited to yet another birthday party but didn’t seem to care because he could watch old Cary Grant movies with me instead? No one. That’s who. At that point, I went with my gut. My gut told me to just be there. To be present. To let myself be drawn outside of my comfort zone and simply listen. Ultimately, I was the one learned something new.
When my son came out three and a half years ago, I wasn’t surprised. Nor was I upset, anxious or sure I’d done anything wrong. Instead I was humbled by his bravery and proud beyond words that this young man was ready to share who he was with the people who loved him unconditionally.
I’ve had people over these last couple years ask if we were “okay” with having a gay son while assuring us “they’re totally cool with it”. After glaring at them and fighting the urge to say “cool with what exactly?”, I give a basic “we’re thrilled”! It’s the same answer I would have given anyone who asked me how I felt the day he was born (22 years ago today). “I’m thrilled! Out of mind excited! I can’t wait to be a mother to this beautiful baby boy!”
I feel the same today a million times over. I’m proud and pleased and I cannot wait to see where his rainbow journey takes him. Moreover, I’m thankful and endlessly grateful to have been given the incredible gift of parenthood. There may be a strong argument that I’ve learned more than I’ve taught over these last couple decades. LOL.
Happy Birthday to my darling boy. I love you more than words can say. And I’m very proud to be your mom. <3