This Pride Month, I am feeling a double sort of pride: Pride at being part of the LGBTQ community and pride in my son as he graduates from high school.
I don’t write a lot specifically about my son in this column; I’ve always felt his story should be his to tell. I will, however, state categorically that I am bursting with pride at the young man he has become. To use a term in Yiddish, the language of my heritage, I am kvelling.
I still remember the start of this journey, as my partner (now spouse) Helen and I discussed our vision for parenthood, our own childhoods, and our dreams for our son. We planned his creation with meticulous care — only to have him arrive at his own time and his own way, via emergency C-section.
Parenthood is like that, though: No matter what we think we know, our kids will surprise us. That’s as it should be, for as much as we teach our kids, they teach us: about caring, and patience, and wonder.
And pride. I was proud of our son from the moment of his birth, for simply existing and trying to make sense of his bright new world. I was proud of him for his first steps, first words, and first friends; for learning to read, to swim, to ride a bike. I watched him fail at things — then keep trying and succeed. I saw him develop kindness and compassion, both for himself and others. He found his own particular interests and skills, not all of which I would have guessed. He dealt with the unexpected — like a global pandemic — and made the best of it.
Much as I am proud of him, however, I also sometimes wonder if Helen and I have prepared him well enough for what the world may throw at him. Will he stay safe? Have healthy relationships? Remember to do his laundry and eat some vegetables? That’s out of my hands; I have to trust that he’ll get by.
I am, in short, like many parents around the world with children on the cusp of adulthood. Now I sit here, typing this column while his graduation cake bakes and trying not to think about the few short weeks left until he leaves for college. Parenting is a lifetime commitment, of course, and today’s technology will ensure that we are never more than a text or Zoom call away. (I’ve promised not to bug him too much, though.) Still, this is a bigger transition than Helen and I have ever faced as parents — but parenthood is all about transitions, from the first moment onwards. The only certain thing, as they say, is change.
I’m therefore also proud of Helen and myself for working together through the many ups and downs and challenges of parenthood. We’re still together after 28 years and are looking forward to seeing what mischief we can get into on our own once our son is off at college. Not that we didn’t love doing things as a family (and always will, even if less frequently), but we have a few things on our bucket lists that aren’t necessarily on our son’s.
As I think of the other Pride we celebrate this month, too, I am also proud that we have made this journey as a two-mom family, starting before any state recognized our right to be married and before there were the visible role models and resources there are now. I’m proud we were able to be visible in our community; that we contributed in some small way to helping LGBTQ equality blossom; and that we survived the retrograde years of our 45th president. I’m proud to be one more data point showing that LGBTQ people are just as capable of raising kids as anyone else. That was never the point of becoming a parent, but it’s a nice side benefit.
Mostly, though, I’m simply proud to be a mom to my son. To him, I say: I am excited to see you off to new adventures, finding your way as an adult in this world. I hope I helped with encouragement and support (and occasional admonition), but I know without a doubt that the path you are forging is your own. May you take pride in yourself without diminishing others; may you find your own relationships and communities of which to be proud, and may you always remember that Momma and I are very proud of you.
A happy Pride to all of you readers, whatever and whomever you may be proud of.
Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (mombian.com), a GLAAD Media Award-winning blog and resource directory, with a searchable database of 700+ LGBTQ family books, media, and more.