I came out as a lesbian in college. By 30, I was married to a woman and pregnant with our first child. From finding community to recognizing that life is just hard sometimes, being a lesbian prepared me for parenthood more than I could’ve anticipated.
1. I lost friends and found my community
Soon after becoming parents, we saw our friends less and less. We found that those late-night dinner parties didn’t work with our daughter’s bedtime. We had friends over to our house a lot when she was a baby, but as she got older and started yelling from her room, “Can you guys quiet down?!” that had to stop too. When I first came out, many of my friends said it was fine. That all changed when I started dating a girl. The next invitation to a friend’s wedding didn’t include “and guest.” When it was time for my own wedding, friends and family who claimed to love us didn’t come. “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” they said. Then I found my community. The queers invited me to a poetry slam. The other preschool parents invited us out for an early dinner with the kids. That neighbor that I never spoke to before is now texting during nap-time and we meet regularly at the playground.
2. As a lesbian and as a parent, I often feel pressure to be perfect
Sometimes as a lesbian, I feel the need to act perfectly, as if I represent all gays everywhere all the time. If I get defensive and angry about injustice, then lesbians are uptight and need to relax a little. As a parent, I often feel like my parenting skills are on display in all public spaces and open to judgment. If my kid freaks out on a plane, it’s my fault and all parents everywhere should be better at calming their kids. If my toddler throws her food in a restaurant, then parents shouldn’t bring toddlers to restaurants.
3. I know that life is sometimes hard — and that’s OK
Accepting myself, coming out, and experiencing rejection for who I am was impossibly hard. I enter parenthood knowing what it’s like to be misunderstood like my tantruming toddler, or confused and scared like my fearful kindergartner navigating new friendships. I know that sometimes life is just really hard, as a parent, as a person and as a kid. And that’s OK. I don’t have to save my kid from hard stuff. My job is just to take care of her and love her well. I have to hear her and not silence her. I need to see her and walk alongside through the hard stuff. I can do that.