The Bottom Line: The best job I have is being mom to five kids. It has been unusually difficult as most of them have had unusual illnesses (including cancer) and some have faced unusual trauma. Complicating matters for us all, my 20 year marriage to their dad surprisingly fell apart. I went from being a woman of incredible faith to nearly losing it all.

Despite what social media profiles tell us all, real life for many presents us with painful challenges that can often be pushed through on a march toward freedom and gratitude. I learned this after some crazy sickness showing up at least once a year for 10 years, on top of common childhood surprises.

While teenage years brought on great difficulty as they do for many, I came to love the process of watching my teens become who they’re meant to be, even when it meant them sharing they were someone I wasn’t expecting. When I held them in my arms as babies, kissed their soft hair, laid in bed reading book after book and drove around singing loudly, I didn’t realized how firmly attached I was to the expectation that they would become adults who would accomplish certain things, appearing and living a certain way. I began to reevaluate my expectations, education, faith, and behavior as I carried on with illness after illness, only to have to watch one of my kids struggle in ways I can’t describe, after overcoming poor health.

Shocking revelations from a conservative family like ours piled high as the kids became young adults. Through it all freedom and love emerged in the greatest of ways when my kids shared their truth with me, especially my son, Cooper, who told us at 16 that he was gay. Most parents like me would have been totally devastated. When he was very young, and I thought at times about the potential for him to be gay, I foresaw myself completely opposed to the idea. However, an unusual path took us all to a place I wish everyone could find.

I can’t speak for the kids, but for me, I have been blessed by the wrestle that occurred within my own heart and mind throughout these years, because in the end I was able to grow into deeper grace and understanding of the unfamiliar. That empowered me to maintain honest, mostly close, and vulnerable relationships with my kids, despite the changes that occurred in us all.

This kind of love became uncontainable and overflowed into other friendships I developed, especially with young LGBTQ people. What worked for me may not work for all, but consider reading more to find out about the beautiful transition I started, aware I knew only one gay person (whose sexuality I pretended hadn’t changed because I didn’t know how to love him completely). You will find that the story really took off about a year after Cooper came out, as I ventured outside the walls of my home and church to places I’d have never ever expected in pursuit of greater understanding about how his adult life might look.

I made some of the best friends of my life along the way, who happen to be LGBTQ, and responded to a call to learn more and love all as I took off here and there to West Hollywood for trips to gay bars, volunteering and attending Pride Festivals, giving unexpected interviews at a Pride Parade as mom who wanted others to know they were seen and valued, and several other fantastic experiences. You will learn that my personal pursuit of hope as an individual, and solid parent/child relationships forced an emergence of a new way to live, with uncontainable and unconditional love.

Made of Onyx Mission

To better the lives of LGBT+ people, and those who love them, by activating understanding and supportive connections at home, school, and church.

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