On a sunny afternoon I set out on a kayak trip down the Shenandoah River with my mother. It was this day that I finally completed a task that I had attempted for years. Though my life as a lover of all flannel, a hugger of all trees and a resister to all things “traditional” caused my coming out to not be a surprise to her and her years of compassion, love and support caused her acceptance to not be a surprise to me, that didn’t change the immense impact that day had on my life. My act of true self-expression and honesty was met with instant love and acknowledgement. I was real and vulnerable for one of the first times in my life and my feelings of self-worth and confidence flourished in her warmth. I am the person I am today, able to express myself the way I do with self-love and security because of that moment and all of the moments that followed when she continually stood for me.
So, on this Mother’s Day and all other days I thank my mother and I thank her mother who guided her to who she is today because these women showed me how to lead with love and kindness and each day I strive to follow in their path.
Both my mom and I are Gemini’s, which means we love to talk it out. She’s my first call when I have exciting news, when I’m pondering a tough choice and when I need an attitude adjustment. She always knows what to say and do. Sometimes I think she knows me better than anyone will ever know me, and it brings me that kind of overwhelming happiness that hurts a little at the same time.
When I mention my mom to friends they usually say something like, “Oh, the Kath, she’s the best,” or “Your mom is a saint.” To me, my mom is the coolest, goofiest, most interesting person I know. She has endless pop culture knowledge and loves it when I call her at 1 a.m. because her song, Montell Jordan’s This is How We Do It, is playing. My mom is just fun like that. She’s a total riot.
Given how close we are it’s hard for anyone, including me, to understand why it would be so hard to come out to my mom. That’s the thing about coming out, it’s hard. It’s hard to go against the perceptions you think people have of you, built over a lifetime. When I came out to my mom, she didn’t miss a beat. She just did what she had always done – she loved me. Two months later she invited my girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner. Since then, we’ve had many wonderful visits and adventures together. I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of having an accepting mom. She’s sharp, funny and curious. She never stops learning and asking great questions that only deepen our connection. It’s because of support like hers, that I have the courage to be and share my truth.