By Jody Valley
Q: I’m in a bit of a quandary and could use your help. I’m an out lesbian mother, graduate student and political activist still sharing a house with my former husband, a year after we agreed to separate. (Thankfully, he works out-of-state most of the time, so we don’t interact on a daily basis.) I want to move to a larger city located about an hour’s drive from this conservative, economically depressed town, but worry that I would be abandoning my current mother/daughter obligations: my siblings and I assist our disabled parents, and my young children are very close to family (including their father, who doesn’t want to sell the house in hopes of one day landing a local job).
I believe that a metropolitan area offers more in the way of career opportunities, cultural enrichment, and lesbian community. I don’t want to abandon my family here, but I hate the thought of living in a small town that has nothing for my children or me. Should I just stay put, bite the proverbial bullet and tend to the needs of my loved ones for the next decade (or two), or should I take that leap now and move to an area that best fits my life?
Wander lusting Womon
A: I wouldn’t tell anyone what decision to make; however, I will give you some questions and thoughts to think about in making such a decision. What kind of mother do you think you can be to your children if you were to “bit the bullet” and stay in that town the rest of your life? If you end up feeling like a martyr for staying there, having sacrificed for your children and family, you will be an angry person inside and will blame them. Even if you keep from openly blaming them, they will feel it. Can you still put in some care taking time and duties, even if you are an hour away? (I have been care taking my parents for 3 years. They live an hour and a half from where I live.) Can you and your kids visit enough to keep their ties and connections with their dad and family? I think you can probably see what side I lean to, but you need to think about all this before making any decisions. Then again, any decision–in this case–doesn’t feel like one that you couldn’t reverse, if things didn’t work out.
Sexual identity issues for all
Q: Do you think a mother has an obligation to her children to be quiet and not let anyone know she is a lesbian? Here is what is going on. I have 3 children ages 8, 12 and 15. Their father is totally out of the picture and has been for quite some time. I have always been there for them in every way that I possibly can but, now, I have found that someone special, and my kids don’t want me to “flaunt it,” or let anyone know.
It’s not that my kids haven’t known that I am lesbian, and we have always been really open about it. They have even marched in the Gay Pride Parade with me. They like all my friends, and we often do things together.
Now all of a sudden since I have a girlfriend, they are embarrassed. They came to me last night saying that they: 1. Don’t like her. 2. Don’t want her to be in the home when they are there. 3. Don’t want us holding hands, or anything like that in our town. My daughter who is 12 got hysterical while we were talking, saying I was ruining her life and she would never have any friends. My 15-year-old son was yelling at me and my youngest daughter was sitting on the couch and started sucking her thumb.
I thought everything was fine between us about my being gay and all of a sudden it’s like the end of the world. What do I do? I’m totally confused and feeling pretty angry that, after all these years, they want me to give up my one chance for happiness.
A. It sounds to me like it was easy for your children to accept you as long as they did not see you in a relationship. You were probably just seen as a mom that had lots of female friends. Your 2 oldest children are going through a time of sexual identity issues themselves, and it is often hard for them to look at you as a sexual person with needs. This is true whether a mom is straight or gay. If I were you, I would look for some short term counseling to work through this with your children.