“The most important political step […] is to come out of the closet. It’s been proven that it is easier to hate us and to fear us if you can’t see us.” – Amanda Bearse quotes
Thorn asked in a comment to this post if my mother included my daughter when she announced her total grandchildren. I am simultaneously pleased and embarrassed to say she did.
I say embarassed becuase it is so foreign to me for my mother to include my daughter that I was confused when she did so boldly. The conversation went like this.
My mother: “Now I have fifteen grandchildren! Christmas will be even more fun!”
Fiance’s oldest son: “Wow! Fifteen!”
My mother: “Yes, adding you two boys makes fifteen. The youngest is 6 and the oldest is 23”
Me (turning head toward mother): “23? Who is 23?”
My daughter is 23.
I was startled she included her in the count, startled she actually knew her exact age and even more startled she said it in front of my fiances sons.
When I questioned who was 23 she looked at me oddly for a second, then I understood and we exchanged an awkward glance before continuing with the conversation. I later told my mother that she surprised me because I am not used to her acknowledging my daughter and also that my fiance and I had not yet discussed my daughter with his sons.
And that brings me to the latest bit of awkwardness. Outing my scarlett letter status to my fiances 16 yo and 19 yo son.
No doubt I make a bigger deal of this than is usually necessary. I spend days, weeks even, in anxiety laden hell letting my mind run away with me. Will they judge me? Will they say something rude? Will they hurt my feelings? Will they later talk about me to their father and question his decision to marry me? What will they think? Will they go home and discuss me over their dinner table with their mother and gossip about the whore their father is marrying? Will they question how anyone abandons a baby to strangers? Or will they give me that sappy gooey Catholic koolaid syrup about how wonderful and selfless I am for leaving my first born to strangers? Will they ask my sons, in hushed tones, about the sister they are not able to know? What will the catholic school taught young men think of their fathers fiance when they find out she got pregnant at 17 and was sent to a maternity home? Will they do that righteous catholic dance, say a few prayers and bless me? Will they look down their noses and label me one of those girls? Or as teenage boys will they simply not give a shit?
Yes, I actually think these things. Outing myself in situations like this causes massive flashbacks to the original judgement cast down upon me. I am often unable to separate then from now. I am a 42 year old successful professional woman parenting two fabulous sons and yet inside me there is still that scorned, shamed, dirty little girl that is afraid of further judgement.
At this point, I am going to let it happen organically. As I unpacked my many books (more than half based on adoption, reunions, PTSD, etc.) into the book cases that flank our fireplace, it was not lost on me that eventually the boys will scan the book collection. That may prompt them. If the books don’t, the pictures of my daughter on my desk and bookshelves might.
I will deal with that when the time comes.