By Jody Valley
Unhappy Mother’s Day
Q: This last Mother’s Day was horrible for me. My mother does not approve of my “life style, though my “life style” is so very much like hers has been. I have two small children, so did she. I’m a stay-at-home mom, so was she. The only difference it that my life partner is a female and hers was a man – my father is dead. Other than that, as I said, there is not much difference. But of course, my having a female partner is all the difference in the world.
I did have a husband, at one time. If I had stayed with him, I’m confident that I would have killed myself. It wasn’t that he was a bad man. It was that I just didn’t feel happy with being with a man. Heterosexuality is not something I can pull off. I was always so depressed and my mother knows that. She used to be upset with my depression. She was actually the one who asked me to get into therapy and deal with my depression. So, I did.
In therapy, I was able to acknowledge my homosexuality, deal with the religious issues of it all, and get the courage to leave my husband. My ex, “Dan,” actually became very supportive of me, after he got over the shock. To this day, Dan and I share custody and the kids are doing very well. (My mother thinks that I should have just gotten some anti-depressants and continued on with my marriage.)
Dan even tried to talk to my mother about me and try to get her to see that I couldn’t have been happy in a heterosexual relationship. But my mother just can’t seem to get it, and she refuses to let my partner, “Marti,” come into her home. She constantly wants me to bring over the kids, but Marti is taboo. Because of her attitude, I don’t take the kids over that much. Often, when I do, I just drop them off for a while. I do believe that it is important for the kids to have a relationship with my mother, but I don’t want to go there and spend a lot of time with her, without Marti.
This is the first Mother’s Day since Marti and I have been together. I have been out to my mother for two years, and it wasn’t such an issue when Mom knew I was a lesbian, but she didn’t have to “have it in her face,” as my mother puts it. So, this Mother’s Day, I decided not to go to my mothers, and told her so. I told her that I was a mother, too, and that I didn’t want a day of strife, I just wanted to be with my children and partner. I wasn’t going to leave Marti and have the kids and me spend the day with her, which is what she wanted.
Well, my mother had a cow! She carried on like I was the worse daughter on earth, telling me that I could cause her to have a stroke. She made me feel so guilty that I hardly was able to enjoy my day, made me think that perhaps I should have just gone home to Mom and been done with it. However, on the other side of it, I’m glad that I stuck to my guns with her – she didn’t have a stroke! But, in the end, it just ruined the day for me, Marti, and the really for the kids, too. The kids couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t go to Grandma’s on Mother’s Day. I didn’t want to call down their grandmother, or let them think that there was anything wrong with my loving Marti. (They love Marti and I don’t want them get in the middle of it all.)
I don’t want this to happen again next year, but I don’t know why it would change. Do you have any ideas about what I could do, so I don’t have the horrible Mother’s Day, again?
A: Your mother has not really had all that much time in dealing with your sexuality, given it is a difficult issue for her. And, as you indicated, she is having a harder time since you have a partner because it really does bring the sexuality issue home to her. When you were single, she could put it all out of her mind, pretend it wasn’t so. What I am saying is: I still have hope for her. So far, I think you are handling it very well. I commend you for keeping her grandchildren in her life, for the sake of the kids, for her and, ultimately, it will serve to help her come to terms with your sexuality. Keep up the good work in honoring Marti, as well as staying firm and kind towards your mother. I suspect with time, she’ll come around. It took you time to figure out who you are, give her more time do deal with it. You might also want to give her some info on PFLAG, or better yet, get someone else to give her the information. That way, she won’t see it as you pushing it on her. Good luck!
Have a problem? Send your letters to: “Dear Jody,” C/O Between The Lines, 20793 Farmington Road, Suite 25, Farmington, MI 48336. Or, e-mail: [email protected]
(Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The “Dear Jody” column appears weekly.)