For the uninitiated: Mother's Day can never be the same again once you lose your mom.
For a multitude of reasons, mostly because we were hard-wired differently as individuals, my mother and I never had a close relationship. We just couldn't. But in her later years, we learned to be friends. I called her often just to tell her little things—stories about my cat or the wildlife outside or comments on my blog or what my kids were up to. While she was alive, our Mother's Day celebrations always centered around her. After she passed away, my children's focus became me, which is something I'm never comfortable with. I just don't think I did a good enough job to warrant all the praise and attention.
Still... I know I did do a couple of things right. My son was fifteen when he told me he was gay. He knew he could and that this would not be an issue for me because I never hesitated to let my kids know I have gay friends, and we talked openly about all things, including both gender and sexual orientation. We are also an integrated family, with several races combined, so that my kids grew up seeing people as people instead of people as colors. I have watched my adult kids now pass on this openness and tolerance to their own children, and it has made my heart nearly burst at times to see how comfortable my grandchildren are with people in all their shades and nuances. My oldest grandson will be twenty-one in October. (Yes, young Ben, whom I have blogged about in the past, is now a college student.) I swear this boy loves everyone in the world, regardless of shape, size, color, orientation or capacity to love back.
To celebrate Mother's Day, my son bought tickets to the Drag Queen World Series yesterday, hosted by Life Group LA, a charity which works hard to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, education, acceptance and support "for those infected and affected by HIV." The event itself was hilariously entertaining—drag queens playing softball with a tennis ball but taking the game very, very seriously (and no, no one was in heels; that's how serious this was), two drag queen announcers who composed a lovely combination of sweet but naughty impromptu commentary. (Admittedly, there was a lot of material here—gay guys, bats, balls, swinging, getting on base, etc., etc., etc.) The best part for me was just being there with my son, my daughter, her husband and the two teen granddaughters, laughing with them, realizing how much the world has changed in my lifetime... though apparently not enough. We saw one of my son's friends there. We'll call him Jason. Although drag isn't really his thing, as he explained, he had come because he believed in the work the group was doing, and he wanted to support that. He told us that last year he had worked the event as a volunteer, but this year he just wanted to watch so he could enjoy the fun. Later my son called to say that Jason had left a long post on Facebook about the event, mentioning that he had invited his mother... but his mom wouldn't come. It wasn't "her thing." "But I'm her son, and shouldn't I be her thing?" he went on to say. Yes, sweetheart, yes, you should be your mom's everything.
I made innumerable mistakes in raising my kids. But I tried to put them first in every decision I made about our future because I wanted them to have the chance to have something more than I had when I was a kid. And I wanted them to always feel loved, no matter what. Mamas, we can't give them everything. But one thing we can do is make damn sure they know we love them, just as they are. For all the "Jasons" out there whose mamas aren't equipped to offer you the love, support and acceptance you need, I wish I could just scoop you up and hug you. Be patient with your mom. She's trying to do her best with the resources she has. This is what I had to learn about my own mom. This is how we found our common ground in the last years of her life. I'm so glad we did. I'm really just so glad we did.