My Mother on Being My Mother

posted May 11, 2012, 6:20 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated May 11, 2014, 4:44 AM ]

For Mother’s Day, I typically re-post a mother tribute that I had originally written in 2007. You can find it here. This year, I decided to ask my mother a few questions about being the mother of two sons – especially when one of those sons is ME.

 

1) What do / did you enjoy most about being a mother? 

When I look back, you kids were amazing and very smart. And very energetic. I don’t know if I can say I enjoyed the process always. I was just trying to keep you safe, fed, clothed and give you some comforts of life. I didn’t have support or anyone to talk to about being a parent.

I remember the questions you use to ask which seemed so annoying were really very profound and beyond your years.

You were really a great kid. I truly didn’t appreciate it at the time because I didn’t have the skills to do so. I really wish I had enjoyed the moments of your childhood more, but there are plenty of pictures -- so there!!

Editor’s Note: I used to HATE that she’d take so many pictures of everything. There are at least 20 photos of me with BIRTHDAY cakes. And don’t get me started on the proms. I tried to let her have the graduations but I was often sullen and had a bit of a…personality.

 

2) What was the most difficult thing about being a mother?

First, I am so proud of my sons. You are both God’s Kids. Without God nothing would have been possible. Yes, you are responsible for your successes and accomplishments but no one is a self-made man. Without mothers…who would be to blame???

Being a mother was scary but also amazing because here I was responsible for future adults and what happens during that relationship sets the tone for their lives. My goal was to be a different kind of mother than the one I had and to do right by my sons.

My attitude was directly related to how I felt about myself and my environment. Roaches, apartments without decent parks, limited financial resources, limited transportation, crazy relatives and a mismatched spouse. Well, that’s the good side. It’s difficult without help and support and respect. I was just plain alone and no one to discuss matters with. I tried and was criticized.

Being a mother is nurture, nature, accident, circumstance. I produced children that I didn’t have a clue what to do next with but over time it came together for me -- I am in charge. That's it. And the kid doesn’t have to like it.

When I let go of opinions and moved out of the way and turned it over to God, life moved in a different direction.

Finally, I was so upset about not being able to have more children but I am so proud to be the mother of [two] such wonderful sons!

 

3) What do you consider to be your greatest success as a mother?

My sons are healthy and hopefully happy individuals. As I stated before, their success and accomplishments are their own. I’m just happy to breathe a sigh of relief that so far I have not had to suffer the fate some mothers burden. That part is credited to God in their lives.

What I wanted for my sons was a two-parent life and that happened. Also education, self-sufficiency, intelligence and basically healthy.

That parenting season went so fast I can hardly remember.

Editor’s Note: I’ll add that, to this day and still with limited means, she will do whatever she can to make sure her sons have everything they need – whether they ask for it or not.

 

4) What would you have done differently?

Based on conversations with both my sons [in recent years], I would have simply calmed down and gotten a sense of humor about parenting.

I was concerned about clothing and laundry, education and hygiene. I had to work and that was stressing. I missed my kids and didn’t know how to balance once I got home and had to deal with them. Over time I got it.

So many things I would have done different like be more understanding and patient but I am successful in the fact I have a relationship with a son who would ask the questions and care about my opinion.

 

5) How did you feel when you realized you had a gay son and how do you feel now?

At first I was angry because what I thought was really true and I didn’t want to be right. I really was hoping not to have to really deal with it for selfish reasons but it was always the elephant in the room.

I wanted my son to be safe and happy and not have unimaginable issues to deal with. As it turns out I was right and I hurt for what he had to deal with without the support of his family. I love him very much he is my kid no matter what. All the biblical, churchy, religious issues aside, he is my baby, my boo bear.

 

6) Do you feel in some way cheated or shortchanged by the fact that you have a gay son?

At first I always wanted grandchildren. He would have been a great parent because he will strive to do different then his parents. But the same could happen with a not gay son so I am just fine with how it turned out.

I just don’t want him to get all crazy with it.

 

7) When we had the "I'm gay" conversation, you said you knew I was gay when I was five. What tipped you off?

I knew something wasn’t right even by age two and I use to question it. But my "tips" were typical stereotypes like you didn’t like playing boy games or really anything boy like. You liked shoes and fashion and legs and shoes and clothes and shoes. You use to put on my shoes all the time. I thought maybe because they were smaller then your dad’s and easier to wear.

Editor’s Note: This was a bad idea. Now y’all know too much. Ironically, I now have very little interest in fashion. If it’s not base black, I can’t coordinate it to save my life.

As you got older, it was the kids you were hanging around in theatre and chorus. Then your gestures when you were around certain individuals.

I really tried to talk about it with your dad and there just wasn’t going to be a discussion. To his credit he did say, "He is still our son. Will you love him any less if he is gay?" It was funny. He really didn’t want to talk about or pray about how we will handle it.

Editor’s Note: My father was and still is a minister.

When you finally told me completely in 2005 I was good because I was the one you told because I was the one who asked.

Editor’s Note: I’m glad they didn’t try to talk to me about it. There was NO way I could have had that 2005 conversation with them in 1995 or any other time.

 

8) What type of life did you anticipate for your sons and for me in particular?

I anticipated a two-parent stable home life -- happy, college-educated, no thugs, no jail and to live a long life. I wanted more for them then I had afforded to me. I wanted them to have a faith/belief system, community involvement, safety and family. They had all of that available.

For you, I wanted you to graduate from college with your dreams at your disposal.


9) What now do you want most for your sons and for me in particular? 

To be happy productive adults. I want my sons to be close to each other, support and love one another. The family dynamics are not what I anticipated but you both had a great start.

For you, I want you to be happy so you have to be yourself -- no matter what we think.

 

10) What would you tell a mother of young sons today? What would you tell the mother of a gay teen or young adult?

I wouldn’t tell them anything. Whatever they are doing is best for their situation and their sons. I don’t have any advice for another mother of a gay teen. I didn’t go through it, but today the point is to be close and love. It doesn’t mean that you agree but if you love your son he is a reflection of God and of you and no matter, gay or straight, he is your child whether he is a teen or an adult.

Editor’s Note: I came out to my mother at age 25. So while she technically had a gay teen, she didn’t have to deal with having a gay teen. That gay teen largely kept his gayitude to himself and dealt with it on his own – ultimately at his own choosing.

I will say most trouble comes from the fact that parents, because of society norms, sometimes equate the kid’s behavior as a slap in the face when the kid’s life doesn’t line up with the parents’ expectations. The parent is often hurt and embarrassed and really do not know how to handle the peer pressure of society, family and friends.

It takes a special relationship between parent and child to overcome those obstacles.

Editor’s Note: We have..and so we do.

To close out, my favorite MOM moment takes us back to 1999 or 2000. I was in the middle of college but at home working at the seafood market/restaurant I had been working at since the middle of high school.

A customer had overheard a conversation I had with another customer. She ran the African-American Studies Club at a nearby high school. She asked if I would come speak to her students about being in college.

I went during a day off. Mom showed up at the high school during her lunch break to listen to me speak to those kids.

She showed up half an hour early because I gave her the wrong time. I felt bad about that.