Note :: This article is highly sensitive and personal in nature. The opinions and beliefs here are based on the author’s life journey. We’d love to hear from you if you can respectfully disagree OR can relate to her words.
“Mommy, Can Two Girls Get Married?”
My 5-year-old daughter asked me this question as I was putting her to bed one night. You know the moment, juuuuust as you’re about to shut the door and BAM!… they want to get all existential on you. Thrown off guard, I said, “Technically, yes, but that’s kind of a mature topic for bedtime so we’ll talk more about it tomorrow.” To which she replied, “…because my teacher told me no.”
I mumbled something about discussing it more later and quickly said my goodnights, then stood frozen on the other side of her door, fuming and panicked. The thing is, my daughter goes to Catholic school, and her teacher was simply doing her job. The Catholic Church does not recognize same-sex marriage, and the teachers are required to respond to that question as such. My husband and I knew this when we decided to send her to the school, and I knew this day would come—but I honestly wasn’t prepared for it, nor did I think it would sting like this.
Because here’s the thing: My own mother has been in a loving, committed same-sex relationship for over 30 years since my mom and dad divorced.
My daughter’s grandmother is gay, but it’s never really been brought up or explained to her before.
In that moment after closing my daughter’s door, I was ready to pull her from that school. So many thoughts raced through my head. “What was I thinking sending her there in the first place? How would I explain this to her without contradicting everything she’d been taught in school? What were our options for public school?” My husband gave me a different perspective to consider later that night.
Both of us were raised in the same faith, and he reminded me how we still value some of the traditions. For example, we like that she’s being taught morals and acts of service, like prayer. Just recently, she tapped me on the shoulder, signed “I pray 4 you,” and recited a well-known prayer to me. My jaded little heart sang a hymn in that moment, grateful that she’s learning to put good thoughts into the world for others.
Ultimately, we decided the best course was to let her continue at the school, but to keep an open dialogue with her, which was something I lacked in my childhood. I was always very confused because my own school taught me that it was wrong to be gay, and no one at home was explaining to me otherwise since this was a subject much of my family swept under the rug.
I carried a lot of shame and guilt as a child, and I knew I didn’t want that for my kids.
The next day, I sat her down and, in the simplest terms, explained to her our stance as a family on gay marriage—that no one should be told who they can and can’t spend their life with—and related it to her two grandmothers. I assured her that her dad and I love how her school treats her like family, even though we don’t always agree with what the school teaches. I also stressed that these kinds of discussions need to stay within our family unit since her friends’ families may teach them otherwise. I could already see she was losing interest as her eyes started wandering, so I finished by making sure she understood she could always come to us with any questions… then she happily skipped off and moved on with her afternoon.
She may not truly understand the gravity of it all now, but at the end of the day, I just want her to be proud of her family, and know that anyone and everyone deserves love.