Yeah. He did. And when he said it, it made me feel terrible because I believed him! Like it was an actual fact. Like it could be proven in a court of law. As if it weren’t just one of thousands of thoughts floating through his brain. It made my brain go nuts. Because that is what brains do, people. It made me feel like I was the worst mother ever. I mean, no mom wants her kids to think that she is playing favorites. I felt guilty. I scrambled around trying to show evidence that I was not favoring him. My thoughts were spinning in denial. I tried to be extra nice to my two daughters. I made food they liked. I tried to make a balance sheet of fairness. Wrote down everyone’s names and made a list of what everyone “got”. You both got to play travel volleyball. He didn’t get to play a travel sport. I never bought him horseback riding lessons. He is really, really tall and has big feet – he really needs those clothes/shoes whatever. All of your got to go on the same number of school trips…
And then my brain made the thought “I favor him” into “I favor him because he is gay.” Boom. That thought sent me into crazy town. Because the thought that I would favor him because he was gay meant that I believed he needed to be favored. Which meant that being gay was worse than being straight. That he was somehow less-than and needed my favoritism to feel good about himself. Gah! Right down the rabbit hole I went. That thought felt even worse to me.
Now I really felt like the worst mom ever. I thought that I was unworthy of being the mother of this fantastic young man. And when I thought I was unworthy, I piled on the guilt and I did more things to prove that I was not favoring him because he was gay and the result was that I showed up to parent him and my two daughters like I was basically a lunatic. I was second-guessing all my parenting decisions no matter how mundane the issue was. It took me hours to make a decision about anything with the kids and when I finally made a decision, I ruminated about it.
This happened several years ago. If it happened today, the outcome would be very different. It would unfold something like this: My husband said some words to me, “I favor my son”. I would be curious, not defensive and I would know that this is not necessarily true. It is merely a thought my husband is having that he believes is true. I would consider his thought, but I would not adopt it as my own. It would not make me feel anything. It would not make me take any action. I would still show up as the parent I want to be to all my children. Because I choose what I get to think about what kind of parent I am. And I choose to think thoughts about my parenting that empower me. Like “I can handle any situation with my children” and “I got this”. I’ve got my own back. My husband’s thoughts about me don’t have any meaning in my life that I don’t deliberately choose them to have. What you choose to think about yourself and your life is where all your power lies, my friends. When you realize this, your life opens up in ways you could have never imagined.