How great are mothers? Think about it. Not a single one of us would be here without them. They serve so many special roles in our lives and they deserve to be celebrated more than just one day out of the year. But life oftentimes gets in the way of that. And so, as this Mother’s Day approaches, I’m reminded once again how fortunate I am to have been blessed with wonderful mothers in my life.
I’m lucky to have not one, but two lovely women I get to call Mom. There’s Brenda, my biological mom, who taught me how to dream, then there’s Helene, my step mom, who taught me how to love (the word “step” comes no where close to describing the impact she’s had on my life, by the way). If you’re a young, gay child trying to navigate your way through adolescence, you’d be hard pressed to find two more understanding and compassionate women to support you unconditionally, every step of the way.
First let me tell you about my mom, Brenda. Growing up, I spent my weekends and part of my summers with Mom, which enabled a lot of quality one-on-one time. My mom’s a true character. One in a million. Mix Cher, Bette Midler and bad-Sandy from the end of Grease, and you’ve got my Mom. She’s bold, stylish, brash and ballsy. She taught me to go after what I wanted in life, even if what I wanted wasn’t responsible or widely accepted. Mom instilled in me a great appreciation for style, design and fantasy. I watched how she’d present herself and admired how she never got bogged down worrying about what other people thought of her. She’s her own person and unapologetically so.
That sense of “be proud of who you are” reverberated in my head when it was time to both accept and announce my sexuality to the world in my late 20s. She provided a foundation of self-assurance for me, early on, that I still rely on to hold me up, even today. And one I hope to pass on to Max as he gets older.
My stepmom, Helene, came into my life when I was just five-years old, becoming another motherly figure for me at an important, impressionable age. Helene is the living embodiment of of the word compassion. She’s a giver, not a taker. When she loves someone, she loves hard and gives that relationship every ounce of her being. Seeing a woman love my father so strong made me fantasize about one day having someone love me that way. Helene was the first to recognize the things that sparked my interest early on — like my penchant for art, love of music, fashion and writing… and so she encouraged me to hone in on these interests. While other parents can force hobbies upon their children, Helene saw what made me happy, and choose to encourage those things. That’s something I try to do with my son, Max. Follow his instincts. Let him be who he is, without forcing him into something he’s not. It makes for a much happier child in the end. She taught me that… and so much more.
Not everyone is as lucky as I have been to be surrounded by so much love throughout my life. These two women’s hugs last long after they let go. And all these years later, I am a better father and a better man for being their son.
And as if I wasn’t already blessed enough, after getting married to my husband Alex, I also inherited a fantastic mother-in-law and sister-in-law who’ve proven to be an incredibly kind, generous and loving grandmother and aunt to our boy Max… not to mention bringing extra laughs, light and love into my life.
Max may have two dads, but there’s certainly no shortage of strong, intelligent, kind and powerful women around for him to learn from and be inspired by.
To the mothers I’ve written about — and all the others out there worthy of praise…
Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your patience. And thank you for being so easy to love. I couldn’t do my job as a father without you all beautifully doing your jobs as mothers.
I’d be remiss without sending my most heartfelt thank you to Max’s birthmother, who along with his birthfather, gave Alex and me the greatest gift of all — the gift of family… which is something that we will never take for granted. We love you. Always.