Photo: shadow of a girl standing at a fence cast on grass in bright sunlight

Shadows wane

My mom wasn’t on board with the whole gay thing at first. I never even had to tell her; she overheard me talking to my girlfriend on the phone, and recognized the tone of my voice.

“I’m going to consider it a phase,” she told me to my face. “You’ll get over it. Oh, and don’t tell your father. He wouldn’t understand.”

That one conversation cast a years-long shadow.

***

My dad came to visit me and my then-girlfriend in Michigan, where she was going to graduate school. We had a large, comfortable two-bedroom apartment that was astoundingly cheap (until we realized it was right on the train tracks) and a new cat. There’s no way my dad didn’t realize that I wasn’t giving up my bedroom, that the room he slept in was not anyone’s actual full-time bedroom, except maybe the cat’s.

We never talked about it, of course. We are experts at avoiding uncomfortable conversations in my family.

***

One bright summer day, I phoned my Dad. “So, um, you know that M and I are a thing, right?” We’re getting married, I told him.

He was thrilled. He asked what he could do to help. Did we need any money? So much for “he wouldn’t understand.” He wanted to walk me down the aisle.

***

I called my mom, awkwardly, to tell her I was pregnant. She wanted to know how I was feeling. She wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl.

“I don’t know,” I told her. “We’re not going to find out.”

“Well,” she said, “considering the two of you, genetically, the kid’s not going to be very tall.”

I waited a beat, two, for her to realize what she’d said.

“Oh god.” She dissolved into giggles. And that’s when I knew for sure that she’d come around. I’m certain if she were reading this now, she wouldn’t even remember that first conversation. She might even claim that she’d been a hundred percent behind us the whole time.


7 thoughts on “Shadows wane

  1. Jen Mierisch says:

    I enjoyed this description of your parents’ reactions and how they evolved over the years. It’s nice to know that even people who avoid uncomfortable conversations (we have plenty of those folks in my family) can be processing things behind the scenes and can change. I found myself wanting to know more about why your mom thought your dad wouldn’t understand… maybe she was trying to spare you from being hurt by a bad reaction from him?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sanch @ Sanch Writes says:

    This made me tear up a bit…there’s so much unsaid as well in terms of how difficult it might have been for you back then. I’m so glad you mum came around in the end and that your dad was not fazed {as should be the case} in the first place!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lisa says:

    I’m glad your mom eventually came around and that your dad had such a great reaction. I found myself though really wanting to know if the kid turned out to be tall or not! (Yes, it took me a second read to get that, embarrasingly.)

    Liked by 1 person

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