Debutante

She had a baby girl,

eyes like her mama,

smile like her daddy.

She moved the mountains

every mother comes up against,

built muscles of stone for her children.

To the daughter,

she made mothering look easy.

Baby Girl marveled at the way

Mama cooked without measurements,

survived without compliments,

changed for those she loved

without a tear

or a hair out of place.

Baby Girl liked lists and recipes,

tugged at sleeves for begged niceties,

drank gallons of water to replace all

that seeped over her eyelids,

and had a secret

she couldn’t ever change.

She didn’t want to break Mama’s heart.

But one day a door in Baby Girl’s chest

that held back acres and years

– of glossy lingerie ads and

unspoken questions about the

the way hips feel under satin
or the urge to brush long hair
back from a girl’s face –
it cracked down the middle
and every private keepsake
came tumbling out,
out where Mama could see.
And in Mama’s chest
another door burst,
and years of dreams for Baby Girl,
of trimesters and white dresses
and chats with Mama
over tea while Husbands
talked outside,
spilled out over the floor.
And though Mama tried to hide it,
it did break her heart,
and Baby Girl felt the fracture
as if no time had passed
sine they were two hearts
sharing one body.

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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Letter to My Little Brother

Little Brother,

I know you’re scared.

I know the world has handed you

an outline of the life

you’re expected to live,

placed stickers shaped like

black footprints on the floor

in front of you and declared,

March.

And you, Little Brother,

with wide eyes and sweaty palms,

still stand looking at the floor.

When was it our feet became glued

and stapled to the things we know for sure?

The bigger we became,

the bigger the world,

in sync with us, grew,

till it towered over our tiny blonde heads,

that just yesterday

were bobbing in rock pools

and bent over acrylic paints

and blank pieces of paper.

 

I know, Little Brother,

we haven’t been getting along.

But the truth is

your fear is a mirror,

and I’m too ashamed to look

for long in your reflective gaze.

I, too, am clutching the checklist

I never asked for,

still hesitant to throw it away.

Fear, like a double-headed snake

keeps us hiding in the shadows,

crippled by what we’re told we must do,

yet desperate not to disappoint.

We never even thought to don armour together,

walk into battle side by side.

When the villain has two faces,

why wouldn’t it take two heroes to finish him?

 

Maybe the problem isn’t that

we don’t know how to move,

but that in a time where the lines

between “you” and “I”

mix into each other like vapour,

we’ve simply forgotten how to do it alone.

So Little Brother, can you try one more time

to pick up your sword?

I’ll help defend your heart,

if you help defend mine.

And perhaps with alternating

strikes and feints,

we might best the beast together

and find above what we thought

was a wreckage,

a spot to stand as one

and tell in a smile

the worries we couldn’t put aside for ourselves,

that were so easy to shed for each other.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

My Humble Little Christmas Gifts

19 shopping days left, and I’m beginning to feel the pressure that my gifts are not up to snuff this year. Instead of running up and down the length of several crowded malls, getting exasperated and finally settling for something I hope my loved ones will like, but will most likely sit in the living room for a few weeks before getting buried in the back of a closet, I decided to take a different route this year.

I made a small donation to a charity I thought each of my people would vibe with: animals, the environment, supporting local businesses, you get the idea. I felt really good about it at first, filling out online forms and waiting for the cards to be sent in the mail. Then I spoke with my best friend who is hand-making all her gifts this year. I saw my mum making homemade Christmas crackers with personalized treats inside, putting together string art cards, knitting gloves, and baking the first of many Christmas treats. And I started to wonder if my little cards were enough.

But what makes a gift “enough”? Is it making the recipient smile? Finding something they really wanted? Proving I care about them? What am I trying to accomplish in giving someone a gift? Is it a genuine desire to make them happy? Or is it the fulfillment of an obligation, an annual chore I have to get done?

I tried to talk my mum out of getting me gifts this year, because I didn’t want her spending a lot of money on stuff I don’t need. Yet when I see the glitter in her eye as she wraps our gifts or mixes icing for cakes, I see how much fun she’s having and it hits me: this is how she shows her love. In poring over gifts and food, my mum is saying “I love you” to all of us. And that’s what a gift should be, an expression of love.

I say “I love you” in hugs and poems and listening to peoples’ problems, which might explain why I often find it such a drag to go Christmas shopping. It doesn’t feel like love to me. Making someone a hot drink when they come in exhausted after a long day; that feels like love. Staying up to text someone at 2am while they work through a crisis; that feels like love. Sharing my blanket on the couch, letting someone have the first bite when we go to a restaurant, hearing their embarrassing stories and not judging them; that feels like love.

Elbowing my way through Black Friday crowds to get a DVD my dad probably won’t watch? Not so much.

Some people are fabulous gift givers, zeroing in on the perfect presents – something unique and unexpected that speaks to who the person is and what they love to do. It’s beautiful, and I envy these people. As much as I try, Christmas morning probably won’t be the time when I shine. That’s okay. It’s only natural and appropriate my mum takes centre stage then, and there’s no need for me to compete with her. I say “I love you” in other ways. And what Christmas is about to me, more than anything, is letting each other know that we’re loved.

So I don’t plan on getting stressed out over giving the right presents or the most expensive presents this year. I plan on showing the people around me how much I love them. And that will be more than enough.

Celebrating People Where they Are

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I found a book at the library the other day called When Your Child Is Gay, and brought it home for my mum. I showed it to her, said I’d really like her to read it, and left it on the counter for her. To my knowledge, she hasn’t picked it up since.

I came out to my parents just over two years ago, and while there have been ups and downs, they’ve each adapted in their own way. My mum struggled the most, which broke my heart. She battled with it silently and got through it on her own as she’s always seemed to handle difficulties. She never felt the need to talk about it; she came to deal with my sexuality on her own terms.

My parents, in general, don’t feel the need to talk about much. They are British, practical, and very family-oriented. If our little community of five is healthy and safe, then all is right with the world. And I love them for that.

But for someone like me, an overly sensitive, often dramatic person obsessed with connection and the search for meaning, sometimes it can be hard to feel understood or heard. My mum doesn’t see the benefit in reading a book about having an LGBT daughter, so she won’t. That’s the simple truth, and I sort of knew that. So why did I give it to her? What do I see as the benefit of it?

I wished that it would normalize LGBT people and culture for her. That she would talk freely with her friends and our extended family about me without avoiding the subject of dating. That she would come with me to pride parades. That she would be proud to have a lesbian daughter, not proud of her daughter in spite of the fact I’m a lesbian.

As lovely as all this would be, is it necessary right now? Even if it is, it’s not within my control. I know without a shadow of a doubt my parents love me, they accept my sexuality, they would both come to my wedding and welcome my future partner into our family. One of the most touching things my parents have done in support of me is get up and hug my former girlfriend when I brought her home for the weekend. They even let her sleep in my bed.

Now folks, these people are old school, and very much creatures of routine. They watch one episode of the Waltons every Saturday at 8 (and they have it on DVD so that’s a schedule of their own devising) and place ducks and roosters to compete in the local summer fair. My dad got upset with me during the summer for allowing my fourteen year old brother to sleep in till 9am…on a Sunday. Coming to our house is like going back to the thirties, complete with a renovated Ford Model AA in the garage.

Yet when we walked in the door, they greeted us so warmly and treated my ex like a member of the family. So does it really matter if they aren’t donning rainbow shirts and don’t understand the need to come out publicly or identify as LGBT supporters? That’s not who they are, anymore than being straight is who I am.

And just as I want them to accept me, I need to accept them for exactly who they are. And not just accept them as I have been, tolerating but secretly wishing they were different. When I get right down to it, in giving my mum the book I was hoping she would be able to move from accepting to celebrating me, although I haven’t been celebrating them. And I should. I am incredibly lucky. My parents are eternally loyal and unquestioningly generous. They have created the most beautiful safe hub for themselves and their children where, even when I first came out and we were all trying to adapt, I still felt I belonged and had a place to go.

So I want to take a moment to applaud everything my parents are and all they’ve done for me. Love isn’t about picking the people in our lives apart, trying to reassemble them into our personal ideals of them. It’s recognizing all they do for us, why we’re so grateful to have them, seeing them for the Divine in disguise that they are.