In my final year of high school, my parents separated, and my mum started seeing a 23-year-old woman.
I won’t go into too much detail on the circumstances surrounding it, as really, it shouldn't matter.
But my parents were in an unhappy marriage for years. Their separation was no shock. My dad’s intense response was no shock. My mum going for a woman —that was a bit of a shock.
Funnily enough though, it wasn’t the complete change of my mother’s identity that was most confronting to me. It was the response of the people closest to me.
Side note: Here are the things mums never hear. Post continues below.
Arriving at friends' houses, I mentally prepared myself for what was to come. Suddenly my friends' parents would want to come down to have a chat and 'see how I’d been'.
After about 60 seconds of small talk, the concerned mother would tilt her head ever so slightly and change tone: "So how are things at home?"
It was often paired with a sad smile as if I was in some kind of dangerous situation (God forbid, I might be living with someone who isn’t attracted to her husband anymore).
Yeah, I know, it’s really weird.
Self-deprecation, or I guess, deprecating my mother, was the easiest response. I’d always add in an "at least she’s happy," to which the mums would push back, "no, but what about you? She hasn’t thought of you at all."
Often, I’d get in two-word responses as the women would get increasingly heated.
"Honestly Em, I feel awful for you. It’s disgusting."
"I’m really fine…" I'd reassure them. But no.
“It’s borderline paedophilia,” one even said to me.
Coming to terms with my mother’s sexuality is weird enough on its own. Having my friends' mums offer to take me shopping or make me lunch with the implication that my own was inept was really the hardest part.
I was confused about my mum. I felt angry at her, but I couldn't really pinpoint a reason why. She was still the same person she was a day or a week earlier.