parent opinion

My parents split when I was 17. Then my mum started dating a 23-year-old woman.

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.


Video via Mamamia

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.

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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.

My mum and I at a sports carnival. 

But a whole bunch of expectations set on her by society - the ones which kept her ashamed and in an unhappy marriage for far too long - were having a ripple effect on me.

I would cry to friends at school and when they would try to comfort me by questioning how she could put me through this, I would hurt even more.

It was a frustrating back and forth of both believing the picture everyone else was painting of my "absent" mother and having to constantly remind myself that she was still the mum I knew and loved.

It took a lot of courage for my mum to live her truth - something she had been denying for 50 years to fit the mould of marriage with a man, kids and a house in the suburbs.

And it was the overwhelming response of others that show why she kept it a secret for so long.

My brother, mum and I on my 18th birthday.

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It's been two years since my mum came out, and admittedly, people have had bigger things to worry since then. But I still watch the effect it has had on my mum. 

It's changed the family. It's changed our friends. 

All of our relationships have shifted ever-so-slightly, and it's been a long time coming to terms with the fact that this is only at the fault of others.

Not mine or my mum's.

Image: Supplied.

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My mum and her girlfriend broke up a few weeks ago and it was interesting to see friends return to her.

The women who were "so sorry to hear" despite icing her out of the group for the duration.

I wish I could've responded in defence of my mum sooner because the shame only satisfied those who were bothered.

I wish I asked the people who thought feeling sorry for me was a warranted response, why?

My mum spent 17 years putting herself after everyone in our family no matter how hard it was for her. She gave me every opportunity she could. She volunteered at the school canteen. She drove me to all corners of Sydney for weekend sport and showed up at all of my performances. 

Then she finally put herself first. And I think that was the most valuable lesson of all.

Her sexuality doesn't and shouldn't affect me in the slightest. 

And I wish I told everyone who spoke to me as if her role as a mother was no longer valid, that she was a better mother than ever for doing what was right for her.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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