Facebook often sends me photos of past events I’ve posted. Kind of like a nostalgic, hey remember all the fun you had 5 years ago?! The last “reminder” really got me.
The reminder came just days after what I affectionately call “The Breakdown.”
The day of The Breakdown ended with me sitting on the kitchen floor, holding both my babies (we have twins) as they cried, unable to do what I feel as a mother I’m supposed to be able to do with ease—calm my crying children.
And so I sat there covered in their tears as I bawled my eyes out. I was exhausted and felt powerless to do anything besides hold them and tell them I loved them through my own sobs.
I think this experience made the Facebook photo even more shocking. Things in my current life couldn’t more different from the Facebook photo where my wife and I were in a rooftop pool in West Hollywood with our heads popping out in-between three guys in “Equality” speedos.
“Gawd I look so young,” I remarked to my wife as I showed her the reminder photo.
I guess all that sleep and carefreeness about life made my skin look brighter.
A lot has changed since that time in our life. And while I’d choose our current life over and over, it has changed everything from what I want out of life to my relationship with my wife.
Being a mother has even changed the way I read the Bible and relate to God. I now look for other mothers included in the pages of the Bible. I find myself leaning into the stories of these women, longing to know what I can glean about life and motherhood from them.
I’m sure other mothers who have gone through this time of transition can surely relate, but if they are straight mothers they cannot know or speak to what it’s like to be a mom who parents with and is married to another woman; we are lesbians if you didn’t catch it before.
We are a mommy-momma household.
Another space that my family inhabits that’s a bit different is that we don’t have just 1 baby; we have twins.
Everywhere we go, people talk to us. It’s actually kind of sweet the way people smile and interact with my kid’s and at the same time these people that stop to talk with us ask llllloooooootttttssss of questions—questions that quickly feel vulnerable and exposing to me.
There’s usually a progression to the questions; names of the babies, ages, and that’s about where the conversation takes a turn into the land of—“do I come out, or do I stay in the closet.”
The dilemma of whether to come out as gay comes in the form of questions about my husband. Does my husband help with the kids, do twins run in his family, and is my husband tall (our kids are tall for their age)—these are just a few of the inquires.
Obviously these questions are not meant to be exposing, but at that point in the conversation with a well-meaning stranger, I have to decide whether to come out or stay in the closet.
This decision can feel overwhelming and vulnerable for me because I never know how the other person will respond.
And while I have accepted being queer and actually really love being a lesbian, I feel protective over my children. I fear this well-meaning stranger will quickly become a judgmental onlooker, and I fear my kids will feel the shame of that moment.
Honestly, most days I try and find the courage and energy to come out, but there are those occasional moments that I’m too tired or moody or just don’t feel like it. In those moments, I let the person assume what they want.
Every time I choose this, I feel sad and a bit “off” afterwards. I have many moments every week where I face people who haven’t met a lesbian mom of twins before; every single day.
Most are kind, or kind enough to not share their negative feelings with me, but there are also those who give me a look of disapproval, sadness and judgment. Being a mom has changed everything that I feel about these kinds of interactions.
If I’m honest, I feel anxiety, fear, and sadness.
The other night, I took the kids for a walk around the town where we live. We walked past the park, coffee shops and restaurants greeting those we passed along the way. And we came to pass the church that we pass every day.
The church recently started a Wednesday night concerts on the lawn; they had set up a small stage as well as tables and chairs for anyone who wanted to enjoy a simple meal and free music. My kids love music so I decided to stop and listen for a bit; I stayed standing on the sidewalk and let my kids simply listen from the comfort of their stroller.
The leader of the band made a joke, “I heard this song around the same time I got saved, I loved this song almost as much as I did Jesus.” Everyone laughed and yet for me, in an instant I was in a bit of a panic in hearing the word “saved.”
This language reminded me that we might not be welcome there.
In my experience, the word “saved” is usually used in evangelical churches that aren’t exactly open to gay people. It was like a lighting rod came down and jolted me back to the reality that neither myself nor my kids might not be fully accepted in this space.
After his joke the band leader shouted back to me, “Are those twins?!” “Oh. Dear. God!” I thought as everyone sitting and listening to the music turned to look at me. My heart began to pound as I anticipated his next series of questions. Would he comment about my husband in front of all of these people, and what would I say?
The sound of my heart pounding in my ear grew louder, my body shook, and I began to sweat as I anticipated the opportunity to come out as a lesbian in front of an entire church of people who I assumed would disqualify me as a Christian.
I shook in fear because I couldn’t bear my children feeling any amount of shame that might be thrown our way.
I was grateful when the band leader actually ended up making a joke about himself, as he’s a twin also, and then he went right into the next song. Even as I write this I get a bit teary in seeing and feeling the fear I had in my heart and hoping my children didn’t feel it.
I felt so anxious after this that I ended up leaving immediately and my son burst into tears; he wasn’t ready to leave the people and live music. My heart broke. My heart broke because I was in a place of needing to cut my sons joy short because of my anxiety in outing myself to a congregation of church people.
As I reflect on this experience, my imagination takes hold and I fast forward six years.
I imagine the moment my kids might come to me and ask to switch churches.
I can hear them plead that their best friends go to this church and it has the fun Vacation Bible School they so badly want to be a part of. And I can feel my sadness and anxiety rise as I imagine trying to find the words to explain that they could attend the camp with their friends but that we couldn’t switch churches because we are a momma-mommy family.
I also imagine the look on my kids face as they try and understand why the nice people at their friend’s church say their moms are going to hell.
And my heart breaks.
Sometimes in life we end up staying in the brokenhearted questions for a long time.
I know for me there have been many life experiences that didn’t get neatly packaged up with a bow; life is messy. But every once in a while we have a painful experience and we don’t have to wade in the muck for long, we find hope and inspiration more quickly.
While my feelings about my kids experiencing judgment and pain because of my sexual orientation haven’t subsided I’ve begun to find inspiration and hope from another mom, The Canaanite woman found in Matthew 15.
I’ve begun to connect to and integrate into my own soul her tenacity, perseverance and heart. She didn’t get caught up in her own feelings of shame and rejection from Jesus and the disciples, but as a mother stayed focused on what her daughter needed and that gave her courage to not stay silent.
Maybe I’ll start asking my own question, WWCWD (what would the Canaanite woman do)?
I feel hope in thinking about being able to find wise words, courage and strength so that my kids won’t be bogged down by my wounds. I feel hope.
Photo via Candice Czubernat