I found out a few months ago that my daughter identifies herself as bisexual, or more specifically, pansexual, but I had to look that up because I really don’t understand the difference. This information was secondary to the suicide threats and other information that flooded the front of the queue of New Things I’m Learning About My Daughter.
The beautiful thing about learning So Many New Things About My Daughter was that I could sit down with her at the table that day, iPad in hand, and look her in the eyes, all of her secrets now in my own mind and heart and still on the device between my hands and honestly tell her, “I’ve read everything you’ve said over the last few months and there is nothing here that makes me not love you. Now. Can we talk openly? Because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and you’re not in trouble at all.”
That conversation took place on the Wednesday after we learned about her suicidal thoughts. That conversation took place on the day I will Never Regret My Words. That conversation took place on the day I started being a real parent, an honest mother, with a truthful relationship with one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever known.
Tonight as I watched In A Heart Beat she came down to give me a hug. Since The Day I Do Not Regret My Words, we have a mutual understanding; I know all of her shit and am here to give her a hug any time she need it. And she takes me up on this, knocking on the bathroom door when I’m trying to make-my-hair-pretend-to-be-young-again she will say shyly, “Oh, I just wanted a hug,” and I’ll tell her to hold on, one sec, and I’ll grab my robe and open the door because By God Woman, if you want a hug, a hug you get! It’s sort of a rule now. Sort of like how my mother said to never pass children selling lemonade without buying it, there are no hugs turned away when requested. Ever. Period.
Tonight, though, she didn’t just need a hug. She was coming down because I was upset and she knew it. Like most children, my children don’t like to see their mother upset. This bothers me but I understand. I want to make it OK for any of us, all of us, at the same time or otherwise, to be upset. It’s OK to feel too much and to cry and to want to smash the living fuck out of the air because it’s suffocating your thoughts and sobs and stifling your spirit. But that wasn’t the lesson tonight. Tonight the lesson was more tender.
I restarted the short film when she came over and saw my large, teary eyes. “Hang on,” I explained, “Grab a chair.” Freshly showered and wrapped in her blanket, she sat next to me, touching my right side with her fuzziness. When the broken heart appeared on the screen, her face made the same frown that mine had done when she found me. I put my arm around her. “I know,” I whispered. “I know.”
We finished the film and both sat up and began to speak quickly with too much energy. “That was incredible.” “Yes, I think so, too!” “I can see you working at Pixar.” “I can’t imagine making something that beautiful.” “Sweetie, that’s what I thought when I was pregnant with you, but I was wrong.”
We gush about the film, the future, the past, the present. I notice she’s still gripping her blanket tightly. “Oh,” she admits shyly, “I actually came down for some PJ’s. Mine are dirty.” I laugh and offer a pair of mine and we walk upstairs together with a new barrier broken down between us.
The thing is? I don’t give a shit what she decides is her sexual orientation is. And it’s never been discussed in depth or an issue. I’ve told her it doesn’t matter to me. I’ve told her I think her generation is an inspiration to mine because they’re so willing to speak their truth. I’ve told her she is beautiful and exquisite and I adore her for her self-ness. And I mean that. Truthfully, I can say with every part of my self, I have no concern about what my daughter decides to identify with. What I care about is that she’s free to be herself, to make choices that are right for her, that she is not selfish but self-actualizing, that she is kind and caring and empathetic and able to set boundaries, and that she is creative and curious and continues to learn. That is all that concerns me when it comes to my children.
Well, all that and the list of chores they seem to be really capable of ignoring in favor of “finding their creative selves” or some shit. But basically, I’m on board. It’s a marathon, I remind myself, a marathon. We’re on mile 12. And so far it’s going ok.