The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – Home of the Mama Bears
Looking back now I can see that there were signs I/we should have picked up on. Like the many Christmas mornings that she discarded the dolls and frilly things and opted for her brothers cars and sports equipment. I should have noticed the lack of desire to wear lacy pink things and stating they were itchy when questioned. It should have been a clue when she adored only the female heroines in TV shows and movies. Certainly it should have been a red flag the day she told me she wanted to die young and when I asked her why she simply stated that no one cries over old people in an obituary but everyone is sad when someone young dies. I guess If I knew then what I know now I would have picked up on those clues but she didn’t even know she was gay yet how could we have known? In High school she just thought she was a good little Mormon girl when all her friends were having temptations with boys and getting into trouble and it wasn’t an issue for her at all. I suspect she started to realize the truth around the age of 18. So she chose to go on a mission partly to delay the whole marriage issue and partly to ask her Heavenly Father that if she would serve Him for those 18 months if He would take away those feelings. She served valiantly but those feelings remained. After her mission my husband and I and 3 of her 8 siblings moved to Texas for work, and she went back to Utah State to continue her education….and she struggled. I was too far away to know the depths of her struggle or the pain and anguish she endured as she tried to navigate an unknown path completely alone. I knew she had depression and anxiety, I knew she had been to see doctors and a therapist, I knew she was on medication, I just didn’t know why she was suffering. My heart aches every time I think of how she must have felt alone and scared, knowing her future would never hold for her all that she had been promised, knowing her new path would take her away from the church she had grown up in, served in and Loved, knowing her secret would destroy her family.
I remember when she was having a hard time with a relationship she was having and I guess I just knew. We were talking on the phone, she was once again sad and I asked her if this painful relationship was a girl. Silence! Heartbreaking Silence on both ends! Then she just sobbed into the phone and my world crashed around me. I wanted to grab her through the phone and hold her and tell her we would figure it out. At the time I thought it was something she could “overcome”. I remember getting on my knees many times and begging Heavenly Father to change her, to send her someone that she COULD fall in Love with, have a Temple Marriage and a family with. I lined her up with a friends brother-in-law, he liked her …she is sweet and beautiful and fun… and I had hope. Then one day on the phone she said “Mom I will marry him if that is what YOU want” NO that is not what I want! I want you to marry who will make YOU happy. Sadly I realized the big wedding she always dreamed of and planned for was gone her Temple marriage was gone. My heart hurt for the grandchildren I would Never have. I did not know how to help her, I did not know where to turn. When I went to my Bishop for guidance he gave me none, except to compare my sweet innocent daughter to a pedophile… I felt all alone. I didn’t know anyone who was gay and I was embarrassed that people would find out. My prayers changed then. Instead of asking Him to change her I began to pray for understanding, for a knowledge of how to help her, and for comfort for all of us. I prayed He would comfort and strengthen her, and keep her safe. How do I combine my Love for my daughter with my Love for a Gospel that is a part of who I am? I wanted to be True to the teachings that have guided my entire life, I wanted to follow the Prophet who I Loved, but I needed to Love my daughter. How do you do both in a religion that basically condemns her? I was confused, lost, scared and alone. I feared for her future, I mourned for the loss of my grand kids I thought she could never give me. They were some of the darkest days I have ever experienced.
I remember shopping one day and I got a text message from her that read “Mom, I can’t do this anymore, I don’t want to hurt you anymore, I don’t want to hurt anymore.” and she named a long list of pills she had taken. I tried to call her but she wouldn’t answer the phone. I panicked ….I was over a thousand miles away from her. Her brothers and sisters and dad were an hour and a half away. I contacted the only person I knew who lived in Logan and she went and got her and took her to the hospital. I got on the first plane I could to Utah and spent some time with her, trying to help her figure it all out. But I didn’t even know how, there were no resources, no leadership help, no one who would understand and guide us. Every day was terrifying and after that, I hated to hear my phone ring. I never knew if I would one day loose her, the fear was crushing. There were days I couldn’t focus on anything but how to help her. I prayed more than ever and I read every book and pamphlet about the topic I could get my hands on. I watched pod casts and videos, and Ted talks and then I heard about the Mama Bears and the Mama Dragons. I can’t describe how much these groups of Compassionate, Caring, Loving women changed my life. I found solace when I thought there was none. I found women who had the same love for the Gospel AND for their gay children as I did. I found support, comfort, understanding, guidance, and most of all Unconditional Love…Pure Christ like Love ..and it saved me. It was like a gasp of air… life saving air after being under water feeling like you’re going to die. We share stories, we laugh together til our sides ache, we Celebrate together and we Cry together…the kind of crying when the tears are running down your face and your nose runs and your heart can’t take the sorrow one more second. Meeting these Mama’s in person is like coming home where you feel warm and safe, and it gives you a strength that you didn’t know you even had. We get together for lunches and it is such a comfort to hear their stories and to share my own. I AM NO LONGER ALONE! and I feel empowered to share what I know so that I can help other families and save the lives of other kids who are struggling with their new path of the unknown.
I now have the courage to share what I know with the leaders in my faith so that they can help youth who come to them for guidance. I am so grateful that I can share our story to help bring understanding and acceptance for the LGBTQ community. My daughter still went through difficult times but I was better equipped to help her and I was not ashamed to fully accept who she is and to LOVE her, truly LOVE her the way she needed to be loved. I see my daughter in a more perfect light the way God sees her, the way He created her. I was able to help my daughter see that she had an incredible wonderful life ahead of her and that she had support and acceptance from her whole family. It helped her to know she was accepted and loved but she still has difficult days. She was married to a woman, and she had that Big Beautiful wedding in a Gorgeous white dress. They have a darling 5 year old girl and a 3 year old little boy that we all adore. They have since divorced so my daughter is a single mom who is completely devoted to her children. She is a High school teacher, writer, and an artist. My Heart is full every day for how my life has been blessed with her and her 2 children in it.
Serendipitydodah for Moms is a private Facebook group for moms of LGBTQ kids. The official motto is “Better Together” and the members call themselves “Mama Bears”
The group is private so only members can see who is in the group and what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 5,000 members. For more info about the private Facebook group email firstname.lastname@example.org