The Mama Bear Story Project is a collection of portraits and autobiographical essays from members of Serendipitydodah for Moms – a private Facebook group for open minded Christian moms of LGBTQ kids.
Some moments are indelibly etched in our memories. For me, the way my husband looked at me, with such love and pride, as the doors to the chapel opened and the Wedding March began, is one of those happy memories that stays with me. (In September, we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary). The joy of holding our first baby, for the first time, nearly 22 years ago – and again, nearly 19 years ago, when our youngest was born – makes up another happy memory.
Then there are the other memories…the ones that send the world tilting, crazily, on it’s side. Shared memories, such as watching, with absolute horror, as the twin towers in NYC fell – and the uncertainty and fear for our safety, and our children’s futures, that we felt. The uncertainty of what to do when our oldest injured herself the first time, the fear when she stopped breathing for a second, (that felt like an eternity), before letting out a blood-curdling cry. (She’s fine by the way).
And the way time absolutely stood still when my husband told us that our youngest was bi-sexual. It was February 24th, 2017. We had just enjoyed a wonderful evening with another couple, whom we have been friends with for years. During dinner, they had told us that their son had proposed to his girlfriend – outwardly, I had congratulated them, while, inwardly, I fretted that our son would ever talk to a girl, let alone go out on a date! So, on the way home, as these thoughts were going through my head, my husband told me about a recent conversation he had had with our son. He told me that our Ryan, then 17, was bi-sexual. And, the world tilted – and I felt sick, and filled with disbelief, and held onto hope that, maybe, he was just confused. But, when we got home, I told that precious child that I loved him, and nothing could ever change that, and assured him that God loves him, too – and he said, “I know”. I went upstairs, to our bedroom, that night and searched for what a Christian parent should do in this situation…and the overwhelming answer was just unthinkable! No way would I kick my child out! Then, I saw a loving response that mentioned Linda Mueller Robertson’s story. I read her story, with tears in my eyes, and, from there I found the wonderful Facebook groups.
Those first few weeks, after that revelation, I was a bit of a zombie. I didn’t sleep well, as my nights were peppered with me waking up, pleading with God to not let this be true. The world would not be kind to my child, if this was true! Then, one night, as I stood, shivering in the backyard with our puppy, (wishing he would hurry and do his business), I looked up at the vast array of stars and just cried out to God – why me? Why us? We homeschool, we take our children to church every Sunday! Why? And, in answer, I felt peace, and I knew all would be well. A week, or so, later, I dreamt about spiders – not a scary dream, a dream about all of the vast variety of spiders, some of which we haven’t even discovered, yet – and I woke knowing that God was telling me that His creation is vaster, and more diverse, that I had ever realized. And, again, I felt peace.
Our church has a prophecy ministry. Now, I will be honest, I was always a bit sceptical about this kind of thing, but I am starting to rethink this, as well. A couple of months after Ryan had come out to us, my husband expressed a wish to go to the prophecy ministry…so I went along. Those people told me that I am beloved, (indeed the name, “Amy”, means beloved), and that, because of this, God was going to show me more about love. And, He was going to surround me with people who were outcasts, who are often avoided by others. And, He was going to make me like a fighter jet. And I got chills – and knew that there would be no turning back, we were well, and truly, on this journey…and I felt peace.
On July 22, 2017, our son, who had just completed the rank of Eagle Scout, turned 18. We had planned to go on a canoe trip, since he enjoyed this sort of thing (my husband and I are not swimmers, so we were a bit nervous), but there had been flooding. Instead, we went to dinner at Red Lobster, Ryan’s choice, had cake & ice cream, and planned to watch a movie at home. After our cake, Ryan disappeared into the bathroom for close to an hour. He had been having stomach issues so, while concerned, we were not completely surprised…until my husband received a text from Ryan. This text made the world tilt, again, and go spinning in a completely opposite direction. Our Ryan, the text explained, was actually our daughter. Doug and I assured our youngest of our love – and tried to go on as though nothing had happened. And there was no peace in my soul that night.
Since turning 18, our youngest has become a new, even more delightful, person. We have two daughters now. Our oldest is Elizabeth, and she is 21, will be finishing her senior year of college this year, has plans to marry her boyfriend, (we like him, so it’s a good thing), and go to graduate school. And we have our soon to be 19 year old daughter, Chloe. Every day, it seems, we see a new aspect of this child, whom we, thought, we have known since birth. She is so different now, and, yet, the same. She is still the loving, caring, hilarious child, with impeccable comedic timing, we have always known. At first the changes were nearly overwhelming! There were the struggles, on our part, of getting used to the new name and pronouns. The struggles to maintain a poker face when seeing that child in a dress for the first time. The new appointments on our calendar – therapy sessions, doctor’s appointments, groups for LGBTQ teens, and groups for their parents, (I had been surprised to find that nothing like this existed in our area, so I started the groups – so this level of busyness is my fault), have kept us running. And my husband, Elizabeth, and I have been trying to keep up with Chloe, as she blossoms into the person she was meant to be.
I often reflect on the past…were there signs, that we missed, that our youngest was transgender? In retrospect, yes…at the time, no. There was the lack of interest in sports – but, neither my husband, nor I are athletic, so this wasn’t a total surprise. There was the time our Elizabeth dressed her toddler “brother” in her My Size Barbie dress – and the look of absolute joy on that baby’s face! The time we went hiking through a local park, and my husband took the lead, (to go through any spider webs first), and we said, “someday, Ryan, you will be the dad, and you can walk through the webs” – and that child cried. And, there was the time, before I even had official confirmation that I was pregnant with this child, that I was awakened from a nap by a loud, booming – yet completely silent to everyone else – voice that told me that this child would be used for God’s purposes. And, as I reflect back on what this last year has been, on the new groups that have found us surrounded by people we might have, previously, avoided, (and missed out on an amazing blessing, I might add), the change in the way I view the Bible’s teachings – now, rather than being a judgmental, law-concerned Pharisee, I strive to be a Jesus follower who loves everyone, and fights for justice – the joy in our Chloe’s eyes, her willingness to share her life with us, I am filled with joy, and peace. All will be well,
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 secret so that only members can find it or see what is posted in the group. It was started in June 2014 and presently has more than 3,000 members. For more info email firstname.lastname@example.org