When I Know I Have Failed At Parenting

When I Know I Have Failed Parenting My Kids

Being raised Southern Baptist, sexuality was a linear line. Boys went with girls. Girls were made for boys and there was never a question about finding the same sex attractive.
And forget about the question of LGBTQ rights to marriage, as in no one I knew growing up could tell you what that acronym stood for in the first place. And we Southerns never give out rights without the proper background checks and debates, unless of course we are dealing in fire arms. But I digress.
For a middle class family in the town of less than one thousand people there were two major ways for a parent’s life to end in complete failure: your daughter gets pregnant before high school or your son is gay.
At sixteen, my brother hid a playboy magazine in his car and when my mom found it all my dad could do was laugh and say “at least he isn’t gay.”
Dad meant it as a joke, but there was also a sense of relief. And since both my sister and I did not reproduce before the age of eighteen, my parents arrived into the winner’s circle of small town parenting.
Time does a lot on thoughts and ideals and I cannot remember at what point in my twenties I got tired of the faith tradition I loved being defined only as anti-abortion and against gay marriage. I stopped wanting to be the one who saved people from their sins and wanted desperately to figure out my own and just wrestle with that until I died.
In the last two years, I have started divorcing everything about my life, faith and purpose that I thought I knew. I have asked more questions and changed my mind and back again about so much. Not because I am at a war with a religion, but because I am being challenged by a God that loves me enough to handle all the “but WTFs” I can bring him.

Amazing grace is sweeter when you remind yourself to stop choking others with it.

I cannot do me well if I am consumed with how you do you. I do not have that much head space. And my heart would rather include us all than leave anyone out.
And then age and the universe conspired to bring homosexual friends into my life. And as Brene Brown says in her newest book  “people are hard to hate up close, move in.” It is even impossible to start separating people and rights and why one group deserves them and others don’t. Reading Lawrence v. Texas in law school was one of the biggest “duh” moments of my life. Justice really is one of the slowest cogs of our societal wheel to turn.
I see more homosexual people being Jesus to my hurting part of the Universe than a lot of the other people in my life. They are raising orphans, advocating for those in prison and constantly fielding questions from this farm kid who is navigating life as an openly confessed mess.
And just when I thought I could have no further thoughts on the subject, I became a mother.
Now my uterus has given the reproductive world a middle finger all of my life, so adoption was the only feasible way to make me a mom. I never felt life growing inside of me and I do not know the pains of childbirth. But the first day my son called me “Mommy” and my daughter held my hand and told me in broken English that she “wuved me”, ya’ll-I was wrecked.
There is NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING that can stop a love like a mother’s. And there is not one blessed or despicable thing or multiple of all of those things that either of my children can do now or ever that would allow me to put up a barrier between themselves and me. And if they came to me and said “this is who I am”, my first prayer is that I would already know.
And so when conversations like the following one happen, I have lost the ability to keep in my words. If we see one another socially and we have the following exchange, just know I will hug you and then respond in exactly the same way I did on this night a few years ago at a soccer field:

“I have failed at parenting if my kid is gay.”

She said the words and they hung between us like balloons in cartoon strips. My bubble was empty. But like most of the thoughts in my head, it did not stay that way for long.
“Really? I can think of SOOO many other things that my kids could do in life that would make me feel like a parenting failure.” I blurted out.
“Oh, not me. I do not know what I would do with myself if my child was homosexual.” She said and I took a long breath.
“Hmmm…I fail at parenting a lot. I think that is how you have any hope of doing it right-if you are always asking ‘am I doing this right?’ But I get it. That is the line in your sand about parenting. My list is very different.

Here is how I know I have failed at parenting my kids:

My kids never want to come home to visit me after they move out.
They are mean, narrow-minded and obtuse in accepting other people who do not think like them.
They refuse to admit when they are wrong.
Should they intentionally see the worst in every situation.
If they ever forget the 11th commandment-all snakes are bad.
When they cannot laugh at themselves.
If they ever see me & their father as anything other than imperfect beings who are always on their side.
If either of them forget how to dance to their own beat.
Should they choose to believe the lie that life is all about them.
If ever their ability to dream is choked out by their assumed debt.
At any time they feel trapped inside any relationship-even if that relationship is with me.
If the words “I can never tell Mom about this” crosses their minds.
Should they feel the need to financial care for me because I made it impossible to take care of myself.
If they leave this world worse off than they found it.
Should they ever be cruel to an animal or another living being.
If they care more about taking the short cut than doing the best job they can.
If any relationship they choose is one where they are trapped, abused or unloved.
When money becomes their measuring stick for success.
Should they forget that working hard is the reward not the recognition for the work.
If they forget that you can always go home again.
When they have to lie to themselves about who they are because they believe it will upset me.”
I am not sure at what point she walked off, but I am not sure we’ve spoken much since. And that’s okay.
My goal is no longer about keeping people in my life, it is refining and growing with the people who choose to stay.
Hugs and love,

Fell in love with The Greatest Showman & replaying the soundtrack all the time!

Lindsey Andrews
About me

Attorney & Author. Always in search for daily joy.


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