It’s been a weird exercise in self awareness since my daughter popped back home. It was quickly obvious that she had returned too early. Emotionally she was connected to her new found independence and fledging sense of adulthood –
– and her girlfriend.
In the five months she was away there had been admissions of attraction and the worrying thought that she might be bisexual.
“Is that ok, mum?”
I had suggested that rather than focusing on labeling or categorizing herself at this juncture, she simply enjoyed whatever connections, meaningful or otherwise, came along.
It was easy to be sage from a distance. We joked about the preponderance of out and proud lesbians working at the camp,
“Did you know it was some kind of Sapphic haven before you arrived?”
She went out with a couple of girls to a play and realized belatedly that she was actually the third wheel on a date. Awkward.
There was some counter moments of flirtation with boys but I’m not sure if more was made of those to simply humour me.
I knew it was serious when she messaged me days before her return flight saying that leaving was too hard. She arrived back and in the flurry of reunion and jetlag I was able to ignore the lovebite on her neck and the misery in her eyes.
Her friends, a generation of Gen Y’s who view gay marriage as inevitable, were casually happy for her. Family members, eager to reassure her of their support and tolerance met for coffee. Her father just wanted her to be happy.
But the two people whose approbation and understanding meant more to her than anyone else were struggling. My older daughter didn’t want to know anything at first. She was suspicious of the motives of the older fully signed up American lesbian that had clearly manipulated her sister.
And me? Well I didn’t know how I felt. I was so happy to have her back home but aware she was there in body only. Her spirit was 9146.5 nautical miles away. She kept asking me to tell her what I was thinking. She accused me of behaving passively aggressively and finally of being homophobic.
I spent weeks walking around in metaphoric circles questioning my moral centre and beliefs. I didn’t think I was homophobic, I mean, I’d had gay male friends for as long as I could remember. Maybe I had an issue with gay women though? Was it possible I had latently bought into the short haired, Birkenstock wearing angry lesbian stereotype – Frankie from Prisoner meets Samantha Ronson – and didn’t want that for my Adele meets Lana del Rey daughter? Maybe.
I thought about all the things I wished for her which, if I’m honest, were really extensions of things I wished for myself. Given the fractured nature of my childhood and seemingly endless implosion of the family, I guess I’d pictured the successful nuclear version played out in my own daughter’s lives. I despised my banality.
Eventually I told her that there was never a point when I cradled her in my arms as a newborn and looked into those dark blue eyes, that I hoped she’d eventually become a honking great dyke. She laughed.
As the weeks went by I was able to flesh out the shadowy outline of my daughters girlfriend through recounted text messages and Skype conversations. Unsurprisingly she emerged as funny, sensitive and intelligent. Their friendship bond was clearly strong and while I quietly suspected the seven year age difference would eventually prove an issue, I no longer questioned her sphere of influence. After all, who wouldn’t adore my amazing child?
Notoriously camera shy, the few photos I have seen of her reveal a tousle haired and fresh faced young woman with no obvious facial piercings… Photos of the two of them just show two happy chicks with laughter crinkled eyes
I have always maintained that the greatest gift modern parents can bestow on their children is the concept of tolerance – racial, religious and sexual. While my borderline misanthropic intolerance of moronic people is widely understood (NRA, Neo Nazi’s, Christian Democratic party, My Family stickers …oh sorry, that’s another blog), I have striven to propagate a broader worldview for my children, which has made the past couple of months a personally testing time.
There has been an undeniable shift in the mother daughter relationship and while I imagine this to be a perfectly normal cleaving away from the maternal bond, it is nevertheless a wrench.
I’m sure, however, with the benefit of time and my certainty of her decision, I will become her most vocal advocate – I already adore Ellen and Jane Lynch is one of my favourite comic actresses (next to Tina Fey, who I would probably stalk ) – don’t ask me about Mardi Gras yet though…