Mom rarely went out for fun—having eight kids, six adopted from homes of abuse and four with a variety of cognitive challenges, pretty much dictated that. And when mom did go out, her dates usually picked her up at our home. It was a good way to save time.
Also, it was such fun for us! We felt included and curious.
The doorbell would ring and we’d all gather like rubbernecking onlookers in the foyer. A nice change, considering how often we crazy kids—colorfully mismatched and wildly special—were the object of gawkers and curious questioners.
And regardless of age, color, gender, or body type, some things could always be relied upon. Mom’s dates would for sure be fun and open to learning about us without overwhelming judgments.
Through the years we learned by example how to insist on finding love that didn't overly judge, to believe in it, and to see it regardless of the package it came in. To look for partners in not only the usual places, not only the usual shapes and sizes. To see less of what things appeared to be and more of how they influenced who we were and how we felt.
I remember clearly one date my mom had who didn’t entirely match the others. She was sweet and seemingly accepting, but lacking in anything “wild” or “fun."
Waiting for my mom to complete her goodnight-sleeptight rounds with my younger brothers, the quiet lady whispered to me, “Can I please use your restroom, please? If you don’t mind.”
Comfortably I guided her to our bathroom and made a little chit-chat, trying to create a more comfortable vibe. She seemed so timid and nervous. I then headed to the living room to gossip with my sisters about this quiet lady.
Not long after she’d been in the bathroom, mom’s lady friend crept softly toward us and whisper asked, “I’m sorry, but do you have, like, a little baggy or something? A little piece of my poop won’t flush, so I think I’ll just bring it home with me.”
My sisters and I looked fleetingly at each other. As the oldest I felt a responsibility to help this lovely quiet shy lady feel comfortable. “Oh, no, don’t worry about it!” I insisted. “That toilet never flushes real well, but eventually it’ll go down. We don’t mind.”
The lady seemed almost more uncomfortable with the idea of leaving it for us to see. “But it’s my poop,” she whisper insisted, “I should take care of it.”
“No, no, don’t worry about it! It’s alright.” I smiled. But she truly looked as though leaving the poop floating in our toilet was less comfortable for her than fishing it out and putting it in a baggy to take home and flush in her own, more powerful, toilet. So, I looked for a baggy.
At that point my mom came out of my brother’s bedroom and with kind acceptance and a caress on her cheek, she helped her date relax. I’m not sure whether she left the itty bitty floating poop, or took it with her.
What I do remember is that my sisters and I found her fascinating!
My mom dated a few fantastic and fun men and women over the years and always we felt liked and included. Because that’s mom's type.
But only with that quiet lady did we also feel responsible to help her feel okay with herself. And though it was kind of neat, we knew mom wouldn’t likely date her again.
Because mom’s “type” when it came to dating didn’t include a person who needed a teacher or a parent. Those were the folks she adopted.
I’ll admit, my sisters and I wondered with laughter and openness if she just might adopt the quiet lady.
Turns out, she didn’t. And while mom and the quiet lady never had a second date, she spoke only kindly of her. And, now that I think about it, she also knew the quiet lady might be more comfortable with someone else. Again, no judgement, no need to create reasons to not like someone but rather reasons they aren't for each other. I like that.
A family isn’t a mom and a dad and a couple of kids and a dog. It’s a group of people who insist on loving and learning together.
Always, mom created family.
Because she is forever that type.
* * *
This is a slightly edited version of an excerpt from the book Spinning in Circles and Learning from Myself: A Collection of Stories that Slowly Grow Up by Tsara Shelton.
From our Your Stories section - Full List (8 Items)
Send us your coming events and LGBTQ related news stories.
LGBT Awareness & Events
List of important LGBT awareness dates and coming sexual diversity events.