Daughter of Girlfriends

July 5, 2019

 

My mom and dad divorced when I was three. My mom went on one date with a man at some point but that is a vague memory. For the most part she was single. She went to school, took care of us, and then found her career.

 

She introduced us to a woman named Renee. She had come over to the house many times and had been spending a lot of time with us. At some point, she had moved in with us as my mom’s roommate. They shared a room. I didn’t think anything about it. I was in the 4th grade.

 

One day, before I left for school, my mom pulled one of those, “I’ve got to talk to you when you get home.” That shit made me crazy when I was little, and gives me massive anxiety now as an adult. While walking to school, it hit me what she wanted to talk to me about. I paused in front of the green two-story house. Stopped dead in my tracks, took a deep breath, said out loud, “My mom is gay.”

 

Hmm. I thought.

 

I continued to walk to school. The thought passing through my mind as I counted the cracks in the sidewalk and looked for my friends to come out to walk with me. The thought was in my mind and out just as quickly.

 

I did not think about it at all that day at school. When I returned home from school, I did not think about it.

 

At some point, we had an open discussion of it. It needed to be kept a secret. I couldn’t tell anyone that. It was a matter of safety. If anyone knew, I might be taken away from my mom. People might think she was an unfit parent. People would be prejudice and discriminate against her. They might hurt her. There were lots of reasons to keep it a secret.

 

Renee was my mom’s first big crush in the gay world. Renee was sort of accepted as a part of our lives. Not everyone liked Renee, but they tolerated her because they loved my mom.

 

I didn’t mind her. I thought she was fascinating. She was in an all-girl rock band named Karizma. She could sing and play instruments. I got to try out all the instruments, including a saxophone that I could squeak out “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on. I had a used drum set. She was nice to me for the most part. Except when it came to food.

 

She was a stickler for eating what was put in front of you. I was not a picky eater, but we were never required to clean our plates before. I also did not like seafood. Canned tuna was the extent of seafood that I could handle.

 

My first disagreement with Renee came at the hand of her cooking scallops for dinner. Nasty little squishy, fishy tasting things. It was disgusting. I was required to eat my plate. I don’t think my mom was home. Renee was in charge. I had to eat my plate. I excused myself and went to the bathroom, where I rinsed my mouth with Anbesol. I returned with a numb mouth, chewed and swallowed the nasty scallops, possibly biting a cheek. After doing so, I went to the bathroom and threw them up.

 

My brother did not get along with Renee from the get go. They fought and fought. Tom would say the sky was blue and Renee would say it was green. It didn’t matter what it was, they fought over it.

 

My mom would try to be the peace keeper. I kept my head down. It was not a peaceful time in our household, but my mom was in love. How could we fault her? She deserved happiness. She had been without companionship for so long. But did it have to be with Renee?

 

Things with Renee did not last that long. Renee actually got physical with my brother. I don’t know what preceded the incident but they had been arguing. Renee grabbed Tom by the front of his shirt, twisted her hands into fists in it and slammed him against the wall. She got real close to his face and was yelling at him.

 

Shortly after, Renee moved out. My mom was alone again but not for long.

 

Soon after, my mom met my stepmom. Their friends sort of, on the sly, introduced them to each other. They fell in love. They started dating.

 

We loved Sara. She was fun. She was not mean. She didn’t make us eat bad food. She had a sense of humor. She liked to go do fun things. She would do kid stuff.

 

When it was decided she would move in, my brother was over the moon. Sara had the nicest furniture Tom had ever seen. He was sold on Sara, just based on the furniture alone.

 

Sara became an instant part of our family. She fit like a missing piece. Everyone liked her, not just for my mom’s sake, but because Sara was a genuinely nice person. Plus, she had a great laugh.

 

At some point, Sara was no longer, just my mom’s girlfriend, but she was my stepmom. She was my parent.

 

Sara co-parented my brother and me in all the necessary ways.

 

She taught us how to drive. She taught us how to defend ourselves. She taught us how to stand up for ourselves. She taught us to be great human beings.

 

When my brother was being bullied at school, she found a Kung Fu teacher and took him for lessons. She didn’t just drop him off and leave him. She trained with him. In turn, sometimes, I would train with them too, if they needed an extra person.

 

She always took the time to be interested in our lives.

 

She taught me to change out the distributor cap on one of my cars. She said the best way to learn was by doing. So, I did.

 

She was tough on us. She was a strict disciplinarian. She was someone I never wanted to disappoint. She abhorred liars and cheats.

 

One time, I was supposed to return some movies to the movie store. I had already driven all the way home. I realized, as I pulled in the driveway, that the movies were still in the car. I figured I would do it in the morning. What harm would it do? I’d pay the late fee.

 

I went inside the house. Sara asked if the movies had been returned. I lied that they had been. The phone rang. The movie store was asking if the movies had been returned. Sara said yes they had been. The movie store said no they hadn’t been. Sara hollered at me, “Did you or did you not return the movies?”

I responded, “No, they are in the car.”

 

She told the movie store they were on their way right now. I got right in the car and returned them.

 

Man, she was hot. I got a verbal beating about lying and whatnot. She was so disappointed in me. I felt it all week. It was hard letting her down. I tried not to lie again, but of course being a kid I did.

 

Sara is the most loving person in the world. When I was pregnant with my son, Patrick. I almost miscarried with him. I had moved out of the house. I was couch surfing and not knowing what my future held. When I got into trouble, I called her. She immediately picked me up and took me to the doctor. She then made a plan to let me come home. She loved me unconditionally.

 

Sara is not only the best thing that happened to my mom, she is the best thing that happened to for me and my brother. We grew up with the best parents.

 

I’ve watched over the years as people have discriminated against my parents. When they bought their first house, they went over to insure it.

 

I remember walking in to the insurance company. The man was cold and unwelcoming. He was being difficult. I don’t know all the grown up logistics that were being gone over, but I saw my parent’s reactions and felt the chill in the air. My mom paled and was near tears. At some point, they said something to the man about not needing his services and got up and left.

 

Immediately after getting in the car, my mom started to cry. Sara was frustrated. She reached a hand over to my mom. It was the first time I had seen blatant bigotry in refusal of services for a gay couple.

 

My parent’s solved their problem by finding new a new insurance broker who welcomed them both and did not discriminate against them. I think they are still with him to this day.

 

My parents have been together for over thirty years. That’s longer than most straight couples. They have a healthy loving relationship. They raised two great kids. I am lucky that my mom fell in love with such a beautiful woman. I lucked out to have mom to the power of 2.  I am lucky to have been raised by such powerful women. I am blessed to be the daughter of girlfriends.

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