I live in Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World. At least, that’s what we call ourselves. We probably should have been called The Windy City, but that one was already taken. I have seen trees, on way too regular of a basis, being uprooted when the winds roll off the Sierras. It’s a creepy thing to see the ground boiling up where the roots of a sequoia are located, getting ready to fall on my minivan.
Mama needs a new car. Please fall on it.
This past week, I was invited by my friend Rory Dowd, to be on his local podcast, called the Worst Little Podcast. It is a very “adult” oriented show…as adult as sex jokes and swearing can be. It was an absolute blast, and I was allowed to talk a bit about my story.
If you can handle the adult content of it without getting offended, take a listen at the link below. If you have time to listen to the whole thing, you should. Great music, featuring PJ Ruprecht, is among the chaotic antics of the show, and is fun to listen to. If you just want to hear the section where my story is mentioned (including my awesome charter school, Rainshadow), you can start listening at 51:50.
Get your story out there, too! Contact me if you want to share your journey on this website. You can receive encouragement from people who stop by here as well as help others who struggle with their spouse revealing that they are gay.
Sometimes, the only way to get through this thing called Mixed Orientation Marriage, is to rely on the support of others who have been through it before you. In fact, it’s the best way, I have found.
Enjoy the Show, and Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
And after listening, if you’d like to give to my amazing charter school’s annual fundraising campaign, click the following link. Every little bit helps our students to be in a school that helps meet their individual needs. Rainshadow Charter High School Annual Giving Campaign
Life really is sweet. Sometimes, life is super duper pooper sweet…like this last weekend. Lots of writing, cleaning out my closets (literally, not figuratively), getting to spend time with just my oldest daughter (which is rare) and sleeping in. That sleeping in thing never happens, so that’s what made this weekend super duper pooper.
The middle and youngest of my Three Little Birds got to do something very special in San Francisco for their National History Day projects: they met with and interviewed Cleve Jones, a key player in AIDS activism, gay rights and was the main stud behind the AIDS quilt project. He also happened to be close friends with Harvey Milk, so both Thomas and Kate got the royal carpet treatment by Cleve, complete with a tour of the Castro pointing out key areas of interest for both Thomas and Kate’s projects. Cleve also had a surprise for them, as he asked Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winning producer of many films (including Milk), to join them. Basically, it was a Cloud 9 Weekend for those two kiddos.
If they don’t go far in the competition, I will be shocked.
Weekend at Emily’s: that’s a wrap.
Now, if you’re stopping by for the first time, you may be doing so because of a piece that I wrote for the Straight Spouse Network’s blog. I am very happy they published it, because it is a great resource and I am thrilled to be connected with it. If you are looking at the screen with a question mark on your face, here is the link and piece I am talking about. Check it out!
I keep submitting pieces to as many news organizations as possible. I have been feeling led lately to speak out to people who have a little clout in this political world, and getting published is a great way to do it. Many of you know I am an LGBTQ Ally, and I have lots of reasons for this. I understand if you are not at this point in your life because the nightmare you may be dealing with hits too close to home. However, it has been a lot longer for me, and since my own Rainbow Family (called The Reeses and Their Pieces) has a bit of a stake in LGBTQ rights, I have a lot to say. Mostly, I feel that because Mixed Orientation Marriages have an incredible amount of shame and secrecy tied to them, the nation needs to know about us. We need some empathy, dammit! People need to know they’re not alone; people need to know what to say and what NOT to say when a family or friend is going through this crappy thing; and legislators need to know that the more laws that they pass that keep LGBTQ people as second-class or not equal, the more likely that MOMs will continue to happen…which means more hurt, pain, deceit and wreckage for straight spouses who get married to someone who is too afraid to be “out.”
Does that make sense? I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee this morning.
Basically, I am going to run my flip-top head off to anyone who will listen.
I love writing. I love people. I love being able to use the very thing of finding out my husband is gay, that caused me the most pain I have ever had to endure, to give meaning and purpose behind it.
Thanks for stopping by. If you are looking for encouragement, then be sure to read the link above. I meant every word of it. You really are stronger than you give yourself credit for.
A full-on Rainbow and Glitter Gala Celebration, with our Three Little Birds, Devon and his husband Felipe… and me, the Clutter Whore Ally Momma.
Last year was the first year we spent Christmas together under one roof, mostly due to necessity. I was recovering from one hell of a pre-chemo surgery, complete with tubes coming out of all kinds of places for drainage and some really great pain pills.
I needed help. And Devon and company were there for me.
But this year was by choice. I heard on more than one occasion from the kids that they were thrilled we could all get along well enough to be together under one roof. I didn’t see this one coming nearly 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.
To say life is different now than it was then is a complete understatement, but I loved it. The fact that the kids felt it was a blessing was wonderful.
So, to brag a little and share my life with you (and to document our Christmas together because it’s my blog and I can do what I want with it), I am going to post pictures here and memorable moments so that maybe one day, when the dust has cleared in your world of finding out your spouse is gay, you might be able to see what is truly possible.
Life is stranger than fiction, and more beautiful than we can imagine if we keep our minds and hearts open after moving forward and working through our shtuff. Know what I mean?
Here ya go!
Our break started off by me finishing the semester at Rainshadow with my students and getting all of my grading done so I wouldn’t have much work to do while I was off for three weeks. If anyone tells you that they didn’t go into teaching for the perks of great breaks, then they are lying. Teachers certainly don’t get paid enough for all we have to do, but having these breaks makes things pretty peachy, I must say.
We left the day after school was out to go to Sacramento, all six of us, to watch Thomas’ basketball tournament and do some massive shopping. The road trip was a blast, the hotel room situation was spectacular and we spent way too much money on food and gifts. But that’s okay.
Here are the photos of our road trip, including me relaxing at the mall with my feet up. What a rough job shopping can be. My clods were killing me! Next time I will wear my Birkenstocks and not my Kick Cancer’s Ass Boots.
The trip went really well and it was so much fun spending time with them. We all got along, which 10 years ago, I never would have imaged.
Next came Christmas Eve.
I was slated to stay there for a couple of days. We did our usual Reese Family Christmas Eve Dinner with Devon’s family at his mom Virginia’s house. Good food and LOTS of laughs. We were all crying from laughter listening to Aunt Wendy explain the rational thought that went behind her Sims City obsession. Gifts were exchanged and we made out with some great loot. Thomas and I took a poll with my Facebook friends to see who looked better in his SWAGish hat. It was a tie, by the way.
My sweet Middle Bird, Kate, came down with an acute ear infection while at Grandma’s that night. Christmas Eve. Ear infection. Welcome to the world of having kids.
The brilliant thing? All three of us parents were able to pitch in and help. I did my best to comfort poor Kate, while the dads braved the only 24 hour pharmacy that was open to get her meds… and were there ’til 1 a.m. Nightmare? Yes. But isn’t it great we were all there to help make our Christmas Eve work out?
The sweetest thing came from it. This picture. I sent it to Kate after telling her that I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Eve any other way (she was feeling horrible for “ruining” our Christmas) and she told me it was her favorite picture of all time; she would “treasure it forever.” Bam. It’s all about being positive and having a little perspective.
Christmas morning was beautiful. There was very little chaos and lots of thoughtful gifts, including the handmade gift that my dad made for the girls (he made my sister and me a hand mirror as well, just like the ones pictured below and we still use them to this day). All of this, including playing Risk as a family, made for a memorable time with our Freaky Rainbow Crew. Here’s a video and some pictures from that morning.
And finally, New Year’s Eve. This day is officially Devon and Felipe’s 1st Anniversary after getting married last year in New York City. So, I stayed with the kids at their house, took them out to The Hobbit and Pizza with another good friend of mine, and returned to their house to bring in the New Year with gambling for Hershey’s Kisses as well as a hotly contested game of chess. What a wonderful way to bring in this year with the three best people in my life. And without Devon (and Felipe, too) we wouldn’t have been here, doing these things, altogether.
So, basically, the holidays are over, but the memories live here for myself and anyone to view, hopefully forever. Life is beautiful. Expect things to be that way. You might be surprised.
Happy Holidays and may your 2015 be extraordinary!
Never in a thousand years would I have pictured myself having holidays with Devon and his husband and my kids all under one roof… 10+ years ago. I wanted to share my Facebook Thankfulness Post from today to give you some perspective on what time and moving forward can do for families who have a spouse that comes out. I am not guaranteeing this will happen for you, but I want to encourage you to be open. Take care of you. Let go of things and people you can’t control. And above all, LOVE. Love yourself, love your kids, love your friends. Love really can heal things because it is powerful. Happy Holidays from me to you.
Day 340: December 19, 2014
Thankfulness for This Time Last Year
Nothing like receiving a text at 4:30 a.m. this morning from my Sis. That’s okay, Lora. I wasn’t sleeping or anything.
Actually, I was wide awake. And I was thinking about the exact same thing you wrote. Woman! We are so connected. Do you have telepathy?
“I was just thinking that a year ago today I was out at your place helping you recover from that awful surgery. I’m so glad we’re a year out from that. Miss you. Love you.”
No kidding. Ditto on all accounts. Worst surgery I hope I ever have to go through.
I continued my recovery over Christmas at Devon and Felipe’s house. Lots of great drugs. Way too many tubes and bags coming out of me. But the silver lining was that I got to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning under the same roof as my Rainbow Family. That part was wonderful.
Then they all left for NY. That made me sad and feel sorry for myself. Again, thankfully I had great drugs and wonderful Wendiana to help me out for a week with those spazzing dogs and movie marathons.
I was sad I couldn’t go with them. That’s what makes this holiday so special. Today we leave for a mini Rainbow Christmas vacation to Sacramento. All of us freaks in one car being a weird family. Basketball, music, shopping, laughter and memory making. To top it off, the whole doing Christmas under one roof was a brilliant idea, so we’re doing it again.
This is going to be one amazing holiday. I couldn’t have guessed in a million lifetimes that I would be where I am today, thinking like I do, without all of the blessings that my life “tragedies” have brought. I love my family. I love my life. I love feeling thankful.
It’s Sunday. I have taken an unusual break from sitting on my front porch this weekend (a.k.a. The Coolest Porch in Reno… where a huge bear decided to take an evening jog by my house last week. Let me tell you, it was freaky.). I am in South San Francisco for a much needed sabbatical from my busy life of raising my Three Little Birds and teaching other people’s kids.
As I write this, I am enjoying today’s unique sunrise from The Coolest Porch in San Fran. I can see the bay and city from here and am wowed at the complexity of creativity and ingenuity of the humans that God created. I mean, look at this place! Not only did God allow for such a beautiful coastal area, but the Creator endowed us with the ability to come up with major technology and expansion prowess (even if some people may consider that a bad thing). To piggy back on that thought, I am sitting here being able to write all of my thoughts in my head down into a computer connected to the world for anyone to read who feels inclined to simply “click” on my link. Wow! We are pretty amazing and intelligent people to have such a thing.
I love Sundays when I take the time to truly worship the Maker. Life is so good!
I finally have the time to read the book that my good friend Kathy Baldock of Canyonwalker Connections recently published. It’s good. I mean, REALLY good. What was supposed to be somewhat of a memoir when she first started tackling the topic of LGBT inclusion in the Christian church, turned into a lengthy research project that spans time. It is insightful and in my humble opinion, an excellent piece of literature to be able to give to Christians and non-Christians alike. It gives history, testimony and examples of God’s work in all people, including the LGBT community.
And yes, my story is also included on page 326 in the chapter section about Mixed Orientation Marriages. Some of the people I have had the pleasure of being introduced to (Chet, Lynn, Jerry, Mark and Cheri) are also included in that chapter, and their stories lend insight to affirming and non-affirming Christians as to changes the Church needs to make in handling families in their congregations when a spouse comes out of the closet.
There needs to be change. End of story.
I have never met an individual who has gone through the tumultuous time of a spouse coming out of the closet whose church and leaders handled the situation lovingly and with compassion. And if yours did, PLEASE contact me. I need to know your story. We need some added hope here on this site regarding how churches handle our unusual situation!
It’s all about relationship building, when it comes to the Church and Christians finding a way to understand the LGBT community. If you’re new to this site and have recently found out that your spouse is gay or bi or whatever other letter represents your spouse, please know that you can find positivity here. I understand if you are in the position I was in, nearly 10 years ago, finding out your spouse, Christian or not, is gay.
It simply sucks, to put it mildly. There’s no other way around it.
And now what you have to go through, from this moment on, really sucks. The only hope you can cling to is that if you keep moving forward in your unique situation, you are not alone. You can also begin to hope that you will make it through this, however long it takes, by relying on stories and encouragement from others. But you have to keep moving forward, trusting that you will turn out to be a more complete and whole person than you are now. Because if you don’t cling to that, then you might be a miserable person in the end. And no one wants that.
Be hurt. Be angry. Be bitter, even. But move forward with all of the strength you can muster, even if you take 17 steps back. You have to want to get through it to the other side, whatever that may look like for you, in order to get there. And along the way, know that you are loved by many, especially the ones who have been through it before.
And if you are not a person of faith, you will get zero judgement from me. If you are a person of faith, memorize the Serenity Prayer, stat. Repeat it like a mantra, because the only thing you want is peace (serenity), and the only way you’re going to get there is to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, and understand the difference between the two.
I wrote a little piece about this prayer awhile back, and if you would like to read it, click here.
On a related note, there were some interesting things that happened this last week during one of the nation’s largest denominational get together conferences, the SBC.
Thank you, Kathy Baldock, Matthew Vines, Robin Lunn and Jeff Hood (and all you other warriors) who attended the SBC Conference this last week. Your mission was to build relationships, and it looks like that’s what happened. For those of us who have been hurt by the Church in some way because of the MOM that we didn’t ask for, your efforts to find a bridge between our stories and the Church is appreciated.
Here is an article posted in the Baptist News Global that mentions all of us straight and gay spouses who needed some bridge building between our faith and our situations, but didn’t receive it. There is hope for us straight spouses of faith, and I am thankful these people are taking our issues to the front lines.
Today, June 28th, is the day that Devon and I were married, back in 1997, in that sweltering hot, Civil War Era church in Ft. Scott, Kansas.
I have decided that weddings are like funerals in this way: It is the one day while you’re alive, where all of the people in your life from all of your circles (family, friends, co-workers) are in one place to celebrate you and the love of your life.
No one who attends has in mind, unless they are negative in their thinking, that your marriage will be anything other than ‘til death do us part. The next time that all of those people will be in one place will be the day of your memorial service… or celebration of life.
When I walked around the corner to march up the aisle, with my arm locked in my dad’s, I fully expected to start sweating and bawling and have my makeup melt down my face. Instead, I turned the corner and locked eyes with Devon, who was bawling uncontrollably with joy.
And I knew that I wouldn’t have to cry. I would wipe his tears and snotty nose as we lit our Unity Candle and exchanged vows. I had a job to do, and that was to help Devon.
… for the rest of my life with him. And I did JUST THAT. I was his helpmate and happy to be so. This could also be phrased as his submissive wife, letting him lead our eventually growing family, and standing by my man.
10 years later, during Devon’s Big Reveal that he has been gay all of his life, was a true boat-rocker. My June Cleaver pearls broke in that instant and I realized that all of the moments up until that point were not what they seemed to be.
That’s how I felt anyway.
Was he crying at the alter because of shame, guilt or saddness of trying to cover up his true core by bringing me in as cover? The furniture we bought together for our first home, the prayers we shared, the decisions I backed for him as his submissive wife… were they all a part of his own life and his desire to look like something different than what he really was?
I have since met and spoke with hundreds of men and women who have gone through something similar. The feelings of betrayal and being duped, used and lied to, are very real. Some people hold onto those things and continually punish their gay spouse… and ultimately punish themselves and all of those around them.
But for some of us, me included, we learn to deal with those and find truth in our existence as a loving wife or husband, who unknowingly was living in a Mixed Orientation Marriage.
There is no How To Manual for straight spouses. No yellow and black Mixed Orientation Marriage for Dummies book. I wish there was. Unfortunately, the only thing available to help us through is our own moxie, fortitude and perserverance and the offerings of other people’s support and stories who have been down this road before us.
As I worked through my own emotions for about a year and a half (and then some) I sought out others who could help. It’s tough putting yourself out there because a situation like ours (especially with the added layer of Church and Christianity) is shrouded in shame, secrecy and bitterness. Many people that tried to “help” only wanted to find misery in my company, and that isn’t how I operate. I wanted to work through it and come out on the other side healthier, happier and more fulfilled. I wanted to believe it was possible because I didn’t want to die and have my celebration of life attended by circles of people who pittied me or my family.
There had to be hope. There simply had to be.
I finally found it by working through my stuff and began to view my wedding day, our furniture, our prayers and our decisions as REAL and true. Our love was not fake. Mine certainly wasn’t, and the day that I accepted as truth that I was sincerely the only woman that Devon ever loved was the day that I could let go with a smile. I also slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up without a burden on my shoulders of “How am I going to fix this?” which ran my waking hours.
I could move forward and found out who I truly was without him. And I can honestly say that I love myself. I may even marry myself and invite everyone to the marriage sacrament. Sue Sylverster of Glee, you had a great idea when you did that.
So, how do you get through it? I really don’t have the answers. But what I do know is that if you want to come out a better person, you will.
The word accept is not something that says “I’m going to just roll over and take it.” What it entails is understanding what you can and cannot control. I could not control the choices that Devon made, my history of falling for him, my desire to stay married for the rest of my life or my attempts at trying to make him see the light that he was choosing himself over his family.
What I can change, which is hard enough, is my own self. My ability to work with something I could not change instead of against it. My desire to love unconditionally, which meant giving up my own control issues, finding ways to make lemonade out of lemons, and sharing the wisdom that I acquired and could use to help others just like me.
I can choose to love without agendas or desire to control. That is all I can control.
Me. Myself. And I.
Who do I want to become? What do I want my children to remember? What kind of legacy will I leave behind when I finally have everyone that I know and love at my celebration of life?
It is love that I want people to see and remember. It is empathy that I want people to feel coming from my heart and lips. It is a joy that surpasses any temporary circumstance that I want to have in Emily’s Scrapbook of Life.
That is it.
I want to remember for myself the happiness that I felt in marrying Devon as I helped him wipe away his tears and snot. It was real. It was sincere.
Happy Anniversary, Devon. Our marriage shaped us both (and our children) into who we are today. And we love ourselves.
This is the final piece I wrote for the Reno Tahoe Tonight magazine in the May 2013 issue. Devon and I were blessed to be able to share snippets of our story and journey as we navigated the waters of his Big Reveal that he is gay. In it, I refer to the movie Brokeback Mountain, released in 2005. It was a turning point for Devon and his desire to finally come clean to me. Thank you, Oliver X, for letting us share our story through your publication.
BrokeBack to the Future
You know, years can pass by after a major relational hurt in your life, and even though you’ve moved on, forgiven someone and have healed your relationship, something random can trigger those old feelings again. It’s like Doc kidnapping you in his DeLorean and forcing you to relive your crap in the past. You may just find yourself right back to the very moments of pain years earlier.
This is why I have avoided the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”
I remember lying in bed with Devon one night, almost nine years ago, having our usual chit-chat, which often included conversations about movies. Devon fancies himself a movie critic, so we usually debated about the value of various films. This particular discussion led us to talking about what movies we wanted to see.
“I really want to see the movie Brokeback Mountain,” he casually stated.
My reaction fell directly in line with my Judeo-Christian, Leave it To Beaver, beliefs at the time. I dismissed him outright by saying: “No way. That’s disgusting. I don’t want to see two guys having it out in the wilderness. Plus, they cheat on their wives, all for their own desires. It’s gross and wrong and I can’t believe you’d want to see that.”
He hummed and hawed a bit, mentioned something about the fact that it had wonderful cinematography and the conversation ended there.
As an English teacher, this conversation would fall under the literary term foreshadowing. Indeed, five months later, the truth came out of the closet.
I often look back on that conversation and wonder if he was trying to open up and tell me something. As usual, I dismissed him and said something hurtful without even knowing it. We had lots of conversations before his Big Reveal that I view now as clues that I should have been less naïve.
When I found out that the turning point in Devon’s realization that he is a gay man was due to him viewing Brokeback Mountain (he actually left town to watch it and I didn’t know about it), I despised that movie even more. Devon revealed this to the readers of Same Sides in one of our installments of the Reno Tahoe Tonight several months ago. He mentioned that I still hadn’t watched it because of the hurt I felt from it years ago, but that maybe someday I would.
Well, I did. Over Spring Break. And it hurt. A lot.
I will tell you that the scenes with the two main characters “having it out” in Wyoming weren’t really as disturbing as they might have been to me eight years ago. The thoughts that I had during those moments were ones of me picturing Devon watching them and his possible realizations that he was unhappy with his life and our marriage as well as the fears that he may have had in telling me.
The scenes which hurt the most were the ones of the deception that occurred in the lives of their marriages. Good God. I knew almost exactly what those ladies were feeling, especially the wife at home with her beautiful young babies, realizing that her husband wasn’t finding true fulfillment in their relationship… and not knowing why. There was deceit, to boot. The shock she felt when she saw her husband in the arms of another man was so real to me that I had to stop the film in order to catch my breath so I could keep watching. I even grabbed a glass of wine at that point.
And yet, she didn’t say anything. She wanted to deny it was happening. She let her marriage deteriorate and allowed her husband to live a lie. Their marriage was one big sham and she allowed this, not just him.
The interesting thing about the movie, ultimately, was the cultural era and time frame in which it was set. These guys literally couldn’t live openly. They accepted their fate and continued with their charade because they had no other choice. One of them was brutally killed because of it.
It was just so sad.
As I watched it, old wounds were opened in my heart. These were wounds I never wanted to see again. I questioned my decision to rent it when I finished it, sobbing uncontrollably like I did eight years ago when I first confronted Devon jokingly by saying, “What are you then? Gay or something?”
I had to work through those things all over again. But you know what? It only took me five minutes. As soon as I started to think about all of the blessings that have come from his truthfulness with me, I became the New Emily again, instantly.
This New Emily has so much to be thankful for, and she owes it all to Devon’s Big Reveal.
1) I am no longer judgmental toward people who are different than me, especially the beautiful LGBT people in this world.
2) I am no longer living in a marriage where my husband isn’t able to be fulfilled. I can find someone who will be fulfilled by me and we can fulfill each other completely.
3) I walk in truthfulness and bask in its light.
4) I still have Devon in my life. In fact, I know ALL of Devon, not just the parts that he was willing to reveal when we were married.
5) My kids see us as transparent humans, willing to accept, willing to forgive, and willing to parent together. We even have a wonderful step parent in Felipe. We are all blessed beyond measure.
6) I can relate to people. All kinds of people. I can relate to mistakes, erroneous thinking, changed hearts and people who are hurting.
7) And well… I get to write about it. Devon gets to live openly in a loving relationship without fear of being killed for his love of Felipe. He didn’t have to cheat on me for years with another guy in order to meet his needs at his core. Sure, there’s still hatred and misconceptions out there, but the tide is changing and I get to be in the thick of it.
8) I now grasp what I’ve always desired to understand since I was a little girl: true unconditional love and forgiveness of others.
As we close out our column in the Reno Tahoe Tonight, our family wants to thank Oliver Ex and our readers for allowing us to share our story with you. It has been our goal since working through our issues to be transparent, loving and provide encouragement to others because of our lives. We are honored to have experienced what we have gone through so we can spread hope to others.
So hey, Doc, thanks for the ride in the DeLorean. I needed that.
It’s Father’s Day and I know that he is happy thinking about our kids and enjoying the handmade cards they gave him, but he is also thinking about his own father, Fast Freddy, who passed away a little over a year and a half ago. Knowing him, he is experiencing some sadness right along with the joy he feels over being the dad to our Three Little Birds. Devon and The Reese Clan: I loved Fred very much. I am thinking about you all, too.
While we were married, Devon was a great dad, and still is today. He has always been very silly with them and kept them in mind when making decisions for our family, with exception at times to the crisis we went through after his Big Reveal. Decisions then were often a lose-lose scenario for everyone it felt like. But ultimately, we made a great team as parents and sought to always provide a united front to our children, even if we didn’t always agree on particular topics.
Devon and I were married a little over 2 years before we had our first beautiful daughter, Maddie. Before she was born, I cannot remember any fights between us of significance. We intentionally didn’t have TV and went places with each other that kept our love and friendship strong… and some of these things we did were uber nerdy: we played ping-pong a couple of times a week at the rec center in Lawrence, Kansas (I kicked his arse most of the time… or at least, that’s how I want to remember it); we played board games; went on old people Sunday drives around neighborhoods and dreamed of the day we would own our first home, how it would be decorated, what we would name our kids, and trips we wanted to take together; we prayed together, read Scripture together and went to every church potluck we could schedule.
Dynamics changed once Maddie was born. When people say their first year of marriage was horrible, I cannot relate at all. It was the first year that Maddie was born which caused us to stress and argue the most.
I often say this: When you get married, you don’t realize just how selfish you were. And when you have kids, you REALLY see just how selfish you can be.
Sacrifice becomes your daily life. You have to give up yourself – your dreams, time alone with just you or as a couple, your hobbies – more than you’d like to.
And with that first child comes the gritty reality that you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a lot of floundering and mistake making, and Devon and I had several fights over what to do when neither of us really knew what to do. As the mom, I felt that I had the ultimate say over how to handle middle of the night crying fests, chaffed nipples and sleep schedules, and as the dad, Devon wanted to be included in on the tactics for dealing with things neither of us had answers to. He would give his two cents worth, I would out right dismiss them, he would be hurt, we would argue… and then the argument became more about our own pride than sensible solutions that needed to be implemented.
I’m guessing most partners and spouses with kids have experienced the same thing.
And to this day, when we do occasionally argue, it’s almost always about the kids and how to handle things. I’m thinking this will not end anytime soon.
Fast forward to 2014. Three kids, a coming out of the closet experience, 2 times dealing with cancer, a change of mindset about homosexuality not being a sin and a choice, my kids having two daddies… and still Devon is a great dad, and his husband, Felipe, is wonderful to our kids. I will never have to worry about having that evil step mom to compete with regarding who is the real mom of the family. It’s all about me being the only mom they will ever have.
I kinda love it.
One of the most important revelations that I had after dealing for a bit with my own hurt after Devon’s big reveal, is that my children are NOT me. As in, the betrayal I dealt with, the trust that was ruined, the crisis that was created by Devon coming out and the feelings of anger and working with instead of against the new life that I was to live… did not mean that my kids would have the same reaction, feelings, hurt or lifetime of distrust toward romantic/love relationships. I often projected my own experience onto my kids, expecting that they would have to deal with or feel the same way I did.
Now, did they have to deal with this new life and have some hurt or emotions to work through? Absolutely. And maybe stuff will come up in their lives that stem from the Big Reveal in the future. But their relationship with their daddy, while it may have changed in some ways because we didn’t live under the same roof, was not damaged, especially because they saw the example that we set when it was all said and done.
You see, Devon will always be their dad. It’s not like the kids had to decide between keeping their relationship with him or putting a retainer down for a divorce attorney. There wasn’t a romance involved, only the love and respect that Devon and the kids had for each other.
Him being gay did not change his Daddy Status. I was the one that had to change my ideas of what they would do and how I thought they would react.
My middle daughter, Kate, said it perfectly: When he told us he was gay, I don’t think I was too surprised, not because I knew, but because it didn’t make him any different to me.
Isn’t that beautiful?
And it helped me to remember that Devon is and always will be that fun, responsible and good example of what a father is to his children.
Now, to the many people who seek to use this site as support for their scenario of a spouse coming out of the closet, I am aware that this particular post may tug at emotions you are still working through. I want you to know that I am in no way attempting to intentionally put something in your face that would try to hurt you in any way or sway you to handle your lives like I did. I realize that each family’s scenario has intricacies that can make a situation more difficult than my own. This post, however, speaks to my own journey with Devon’s Big Reveal and how far we’ve come since that Day.
And my experience is this: I chose to work with my situation instead of against it. There have been so many blessings that have come from this, particularly that my kids have two daddies who love them and would die for them, just like I would. My kids are secure in our non-traditional Rainbow Family and there is so much love surrounding them from all sides like bubble wrap, which is really wonderful.
So, Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, gay, straight, or otherwise. If you are a dad, you are at your core, a dad forever. And kids will love their parents, even if they can be hurt by us. Keep in mind that kids are almost always quicker to forgive us than we are at forgiving ourselves, and I want to be just like them in my own grace, mercy and forgiveness toward others.
And to those of you who have households with two daddies: Thank you for loving your children just like any human would. You being gay simply does not matter when it comes to loving your kids.
Happy Father’s Day, Devon. And also you, Felipe. Two dads and one mommy? People should be envious. Our lives do not suck.
Love, The Only Mom Our Three Little Birds Will Ever Have
P.S. One of the earliest blog posts that I wrote was a special message to Devon from our kids a couple of years ago. It’s precious and funny, and will reveal a lot about Devon’s relationship with our babies. Check it out here: We Love You, Daddy
We have met so many wonderful people along the way and have been given many interesting opportunities to share our story not just through our blog, but with other media outlets. The Universe has been quite gracious in allowing our experiences with our own divorce to help others with their lives as they navigate the waters of the difficult issues that surround the break up of a marriage and a family.
Our own story, which ultimately centered around Devon coming out of the closet after 10 years of marriage and three young kids, is intertwined with the generalities of going through a divorce.
It is time to start a new blog that deals with the hot topics today of LGBT rights, same-sex marriage and how the Church and other religions deal with the hearts and minds of the LGBTQI community.
But most importantly, there is a dire need for there to be places where straight spouses can find encouragement and support as each unique situation is faced. While it is a very big deal for a gay spouse to come out to his or her spouse and family, it is far too common for the straight spouse to be overshadowed by the news as the gay spouse deals with his or her journey. The journey for the straight spouse can be lonely and isolation is often the experience that defines that journey. Here, love, support, safety and encouragement can be found.
While many pieces that I will write about will include the added layer of difficulty that Christianity and the Church can bring into a MOM marriage, that is not exclusively what I will focus on. It is the hearts, the minds, the feelings, the difficulties, the defeats and the victories that will be experienced in the straight spouse’s world… that is my heart.
It’s a tough road. There’s no other way to state it. But it is truly possible to come out on the other side of this closet a stronger, wiser, more loving and beautiful person. Many have traveled this road before me, and many will travel it after me. If you have found yourself on this road, you are not alone. And you are loved.
Thank you for stopping by. As I develop this blog, help me to grow it into a safe haven for all people to live, love, learn and grow with as much open-mindedness as we can muster.
Thanks for joining the conversation as we step out of our door and follow the road we have been given. May we keep our feet grounded as best as we can so wherever we end up, it will be beautiful.