Unconditional Love

I have three children. A daughter and two sons.

They are the most important thing I have ever done.

To say I am proud of them, is an understatement.

I cherish them

I adore them.

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They also drive me completely insane. They are difficult. Each in their own way.

They are a reflection of my parenting mistakes and my parenting perfections.

They mirror my best traits and my worst traits. Sometimes that’s hard to watch.

Look, there’s my kid, being a dick, the same way I am a dick. There’s my kid losing his/her temper the way I lose mine. There’s my kid doubting themselves, the way I doubt myself.

Dammit. That’s hard.

But also it’s a good lesson. I learn from them. It’s important and hard and good. All those things.

We do the best we can, we parents. We aren’t perfect. We have our faults, many learned from our own imperfect parents.

But I love my kids. A lot. So much.

That’s the most important part. Loving them.

But what does it mean to love your children? Where does the love end and does it ever end?

I think it’s hard, recognizing that our kids aren’t exactly what we imagined them to be.

I wanted a daughter who would wear pretty dresses and love dolls and have tea parties with me and do theatre with me and write stories and play make believe.

Instead I have a shy, athletic daughter who refused dresses by 18 months, thought dolls were scary, and doesn’t want anything to do with theatre.

But she’s mine. She’s my girl. She isn’t what I imagined her to be.

But she’s wonderful. I cannot imagine my life without her.  It would devastate me.

I know two people who have “disowned” their children.

dis·own
verb
1. refuse to acknowledge or maintain any connection with.
It’s very difficult for me to fathom this. I have three imperfect children. My oldest is 16. Perhaps there are things my children could do someday that would cause me to withdraw. It’s hard to imagine. I think I would love them through anything. Maybe if they became heroine addicts who repeatedly stole from me or were violent. Maybe if they become prostitutes or strippers?  I don’t know. Again, I can’t imagine. Yeah, I would be sad if those things happen but I think I would still be present.

I pride myself on being a non-judgmental person. But this I judge, this disowning of children. And I ask myself what is our obligation to these people we bring into the world? Are we obligated to love our children unconditionally? And what does it mean to love unconditionally?

One of the people I know who has turned away from his children did so because they hurt his feelings. Deeply. He had divorced their mom when they were young and moved to another state and remarried. His children struggled and their mom was angry and blamed him for the divorce, for her struggles, for destroying her life. He attempted to maintain his relationship with his sons. But she made it difficult and he didn’t fight hard. I know he didn’t. I was there. He had married my mom.

I love this man. He raised me. When I was teenager. And I was a very difficult teenager. I love him still.
When he and my mother divorced, he also maintained a relationship with me in a somewhat half-hearted way. He didn’t have to. We aren’t related by blood. But I didn’t let him go. That’s me. I hold onto people, I don’t let go of things that matter to me. Over the years, his relationship with his sons became increasingly strained. There was a visit gone wrong. A fight. Changed flights, nasty words.
And they have never spoken since. When grandparents passed away, there were a few stiff conversations. But no real attempt has been made to repair the relationship. He says he is done. They have hurt him too much. They say they are done. He was a bad father.
Done. Done with his children. He has three grandchildren he will never know. He has two successful, kind, interesting, fabulous grown sons with beautiful wives that he has no contact with.

I absolutely cannot understand it.

At all.

I know another person who was “disowned” by her family when she told them she was gay.
They are a religious family and believe that her “choice” to be gay is a sin. They will not condone her behavior.
Her gayness, in their eyes, is just another example of her dramatic, attention seeking behavior.
Well.
I am basically nonjudgmental. I do understand how they feel to a certain extent. I understand, given who they are, how they were raised, their deeply set values, how difficult it is to accept something so foreign as gayness. I have family who have really struggled with my sexuality. I empathize with that difficultly. My kids, particularly my daughter, have really struggled…still struggle.  I believe they will get better at dealing with it when they grow up. Until then, I keep it…my sexuality at a distance. But they are kids. Not grown ups. And they aren’t my parents.
I could go on a tirade about choosing to be gay and why anyone would choose to be rejected and hated and discriminated against.
Or whether Jesus actually had anything to say about gayness. Which he didn’t. Not one word.
I want to say, instead…
what the hell people?
What the hell?
Parenting is about unconditional love.
Isn’t it? About that?
Am I wrong here? Are my kids too young for me to understand how a parent could simply walk away from their child?
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I believe in the above quote.
I don’t think parenting is easy. I think it’s the hardest job I have ever done.
And post divorce, post “gay” announcement, I can understand the depth of pain your children’s anger can cause you.
But walking away, giving up, rejecting your kids.
That is something I simply cannot understand.
I think you don’t get to do that.
I think when we have a child we are given a gift.
I think parenting requires unconditional love. Even when it hurts. Even when we disagree with our children.
We can say, “I disagree”.
But we don’t get to say, “goodbye”.
I watch this woman feel the pain of her parents rejection. I watch her think about the coming holidays, knowing she won’t be welcome with her family. Her favorite holiday is Christmas. At least it used to be.
She’s not perfect. She’s a fireball. A powerhouse. Complex.
I bet she wasn’t easy to parent. She will be the first to say so. She wasn’t like her siblings. She didn’t quite fit into her traditional, fundamentalist Christian family. And hiding her sexuality only made her life more difficult, it made her more difficult.
But she’s theirs. Their beautiful gift from God.
And I think it’s their job to love and accept her even if they don’t understand.
I think it’s a requirement for being a parent.
Am I wrong here?
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Coming out…again…and again…and again…

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Admitting I was gay, or likely gay, or mostly gay…that was hard. For some I dropped the gay bomb in one swoop.

For others, I just let them find out naturally, on Facebook.

Or by introducing them to my “girlfriend”. That usually does it.

I see it register on their faces.

Did she say girlfriend?

Yes, she said girlfriend.

Then they process.

Then they realize.

Oh, shit. Ok.

Gay.

I am fine with it. It’s been two years. I have adjusted to the realization on people’s faces.

But I started a new job and i am not sure how to come out again.

There is a part of me that doesn’t want to. The whole coming out…again.

I just don’t feel like doing it.

Not because I am embarrassed or uncomfortable with my sexuality.

I’m answering questions vaguely…

The person I am dating.

I’m dating someone who…

I am headed to Corpus this weekend. I am in a long distance relationship.

Vague, non gender identifying terms.

It’s annoying that I am doing this. I’m annoyed with myself that I am avoiding it.

It probably doesn’t help that there is clearly a gay couple in the office who are “roommates”, like it’s 1955 again. Those ladies aren’t roommates, everyone knows it, but it’s an old school culture.

I guess I could just toss it out there and let the knowledge spread around the office. It’s likely that will happen eventually.

I guess being gay is just that way. You just have to deal with that.

And deal with it again.

And again and again.

Just another thing that never occurred to me when I was wearing my “totally heterosexual mask”.

The first time I came out it was hard. To say the words.

OMG it was hard.

“I am gay.”

But sometimes, saying them again, to a new group…it feels intrusive and annoying.

Like, why does this have to be weird? Why can’t I just be gay without it becoming a thing?

Because it is. A thing. For other people. A source of gossip.

It will blow over.

My new co-workers will adjust to the news. The super conservative freaked out ones will struggle.

The ones who don’t give a shit will be my friends.

And it will be fine.

But I’m stalling.

I am.

Kiss my Ass Standardized Tests

I helped my daughter the other night writing an essay for her History class. She’s in the 11th grade, the oldest of three kids. It’s not my first time to help a kid write an essay. I know the drill.

Five Paragraphs
Intro, concluding with the thesis statement which clearly states what the rest of the essay will support.
Three supporting paragraphs. Supporting topic #1, #2, and #3.
Conclusion paragraph with the thesis statement again.

BORING. These essay’s are boring as hell.

But I help them anyway. To write it exactly as the teachers expect.

It’s this way for a specific reason:

Standardized Tests.

Someone has to score them and in order to standardized the scoring system the criteria is very precise.

Without meeting the five paragraph essay criteria, a low score is given.

That’s how it is.

And it’s stupid. It’s stupid, stupid, stupid and it makes me want to smack the standardized testing people right in the face.

Because it’s not writing. It’s following a formula.

And who writes in a formula?

No good writer, ever, in the history of the universe.

It doesn’t teach kids to think or to be creative or express their thoughts in an interesting way.

It just teaches them to write like a robot.

This essay, the history one, made me slightly more angry than usual.

Because the teacher had said, “You must have a counter argument in your thesis statement.”

Um, what? What the hell does that mean?

My sweet daughter, growing more impatient with me by the second responded,
“It’s like you say, Many people think this…blah, blah, blah…but actually it’s this and here is why.”

I responded, “why is that a requirement? You are being asked to compare and contrast two time periods. Why do you need a counter argument.”

Poor sweet frustrated daughter, “Because it’s a history essay. All history essays have to have a counter argument. She says if we don’t have one we won’t get a good score. We have to think of a counter argument.”

Oh…it’s a history essay and it’s required. Now I understand.

I don’t. I don’t understand. At all.

It’s not required that she understand the political, social and economic changes that occurred between the late 1700’s and early 1800’s in US History and the death of the federalist party.

It’s not required that she understand how to express herself in written form.

It’s only required that she follow the essay formula which, apparently, includes a counter argument. But only for History, not for English.

Because if she doesn’t, she won’t get a good score based on the formula of a properly written essay.

And she won’t be able to properly follow the formula when it’s time to write her SAT essays.

And that’s all that matters, right?

And to this I say,

Kiss my Ass Standardized tests. For ruining the art of writing for my children.

Kiss my ass.

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