One of my Mother’s Day cards reads: “Thank you for being a loving mom. So many fags have tremulous family relationships—I’m so lucky.”
I love shocking people and letting them know that I am proud that I raised gay kids and straight kids. So, sometimes when I describe my kids I say, “I have four kids: two straight and two curly.” Or I tell people that I have four kids—one of each flavor. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.
Growing up, our family reveled in shocking the straight-laced Republican residents in our small suburban Midwest town.
We were the “divorced” family who lived in the yellow and red house with bowling balls randomly planted in the front yard garden. The family with the black lab who wore toddler clothes that ran in the back yard while the neighborhood kids jumped wildly on the trampoline playing Killer Ballerina.
The family whose teenage son would dress up and a wear a velvet sparkling sombrero with short shorts to cut the grass.
The family whose daughter ruthlessly trampled any male challenger in the basketball games played in the driveway. All of us danced together with the dressed up dog on the living room furniture at night, shades open and music blaring.
We were the family with the son who got paid from other students to cut his long hair off into an exaggerated mullet in high school. The family whose daughter confidently wore brightly mismatched patterns when wearing black was the norm.
My children have grown and the majority of them have moved away. This past summer, we all got together for a short reunion. While they are wildly different, I was struck by the fact that they all truly love each other—regardless of their differences.
I have done many things in my life that I am proud of. I have managed to keep a steady job for nearly 20 years with the same employer. I have learned how to take the wool straight from a sheep, spin it into yarn and then knit it into a sweater. I’ve simplified my life and become debt-free. I quit smoking and drinking and turned my focus into health and wellness.
But really, my greatest accomplishments are my children.
By Khalil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
But seek not to make them like you.
For life does not go backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant media archives