Describe a time when the content of your character was tested.
If you have read my blog, or you follow me across various social network platforms, you know that I am, for all intents and purposes, a bleeding heart liberal. It’s pretty clear where I stand on things like gun control, healthcare reform and marriage equality. Not to sound trite, but…I have a lot of gay friends, and the idea that their rights should be any different from mine is ludicrous to me.
As a parent, our character is constantly being scrutinized. Our character, for better or worse, is often reflected in that of our children. How we behave, how we treat others, and the trust that we place in each other is paramount.
It wasn’t until about three years ago that I truly had to walk the walk, rather than just talk the talk.
Three years ago, our daughter came out to me.
I can’t really say that I was surprised. If I was honest with myself, I think that there had been indications from the time that she was very young. When your child is young, though, you tend to deny it. I was a tomboy…so is she. She’ll grow out of it…it’s just a phase.
Only, she never has.
I would love to say that from the moment that she opened up to me, I was perfectly accepting and just went about my business. I wish that I could say that, but it took me awhile to revise the hopes and dreams that every parent has for their child. When she developed her first, serious crush on a girl, I had a very hard time with it. I’m not sure if it was due to the fact that it WAS on a girl, or if it was because I could see that the girl was toying with my daughter’s affections. We never end up with our first love, and I knew that this was not a healthy relationship. Fortunately, with rezoning in our school district, the two were separated and Izzy was moved to a new high school. Time, distance and the fact that the girl ended up pregnant went further to end things than anything I ever had to say could.
Over the next couple of years, as Izzy negotiated the treacherous waters of high school as an openly gay teen, we watched many of her friends struggle. I understand now how important it is that our daughter felt safe enough, comfortable enough with Dave and I to be able to tell us the truth. Many of her friends could not, would not, do the same with their own parents. Some have turned to harming themselves, some have struggled with depression, and some continue to deny their sexual identities.
Isabel is a smart, beautiful, funny young woman. She and her brother make me proud every day. She has graduated from high school, is working and going to college. She wants to become an ER nurse, or a flight-for-life nurse. She will make a phenomenal, compassionate caregiver.
All of this has helped Dave and I to become fiercely determined that our daughter should enjoy the same rights and freedoms as our son. As I said, we’ve revised our image of the future for our kids, and it boils down to these three things:
That both of our children live secure in our love for them.
That they always feel comfortable enough to come to us with things that impact their lives, big or small.
And finally, that some day, they fall madly, head-over-heels in love with someone who is just as crazy for them.
Some may ask why I’ve refrained from posting anything or talking about this until now. I wanted to talk to Isabel first. It’s one thing to write about my own experiences and share them all over the web. It’s quite another when you’re writing about someone else. There are plenty of people who splash everything about their families, friends, work, etc., all over social media. I didn’t wait to say anything because I was embarrassed, or because I didn’t want anyone to know. I have just felt that this was very personal to my daughter and if she was uncomfortable with my speaking of it, I would have found some other way to respond to the prompt.
Only time will tell how my character will be judged; but, I feel that I’ve emerged from this particular test wiser, more accepting and grateful for the lessons of love and acceptance handed down to me from my grandparents and my parents.
I’m participating in this year’s The Scintilla Project. It’s a two-week opportunity to share stories and build our community. Come join us!