By Serenie Gagon
What do we want most as parents for our children? I got married young at 19, and I felt my primary purpose in life was to be a wife and a mother. Though I did well in school, my ambitions to find a successful career fell second to my desire to be a mother and homemaker. After having a difficult childhood, I wanted nothing more than to provide a secure, loving environment for my children, and for them to find happiness and success. I imagine this is what most parents want for their children, but do children really understand it?
When Rylee Morgan was born in 2004, she began to live up to the meaning of her name, “bringer of light”. She has always had such a vibrant and bright personality. She usually has the sass dial turned up to the max. When she was 3 years old I was taking her to daycare and there had been a wind storm. She quietly observed the tree debris that covered the ground and looked at me and deadpanned, “What is this, Stick Day??”.
I got a divorce at 23, when Rylee was just two years old. We became sidekicks and have always had a special relationship, even after I got remarried and had two more children. I found the dynamic of our situation very similar to my own childhood (my parents divorced when I was two as well). For this reason, I’ve always had a desire to protect her, perhaps too fiercely. Maybe it’s the Mama Dragon in me.
One of my favorite things about Rylee is her love of music. At four years old, she was obsessed with Lady Gaga. She would dress up and act out performances. She’d dance around roll on the ground singing “Paparazzi”. Her next big love was Katy Perry, then Rihanna. I noticed she never seemed interested in male artists or role models until Twilight and Vampire Diaries came along.
Her love of music transformed into a love of dance. She started dancing at 12, and quickly embraced her passion, which allowed her to grow and improve at a very fast pace. She made the high school dance company her sophomore year. One of the greatest aspects of dance is the emotion evoked by the dancer. The emotion Rylee shows when she dances sets her apart, and all who watch her can see how she loves it.
I have always believed that love is beautiful in all forms and tried to model to my children that we should create an environment of acceptance for all of humanity, but when it came to my own child, I had some blinders on. When she was in 8th grade, she was very nervous to tell me she was dating someone. It turned out she was more comfortable telling me it was a girl than she would have been if it were a guy. I’m ashamed that my response was that she was “too young to know for sure if she likes boys or girls”, but made sure to let her know that I didn’t mind either way. She knew. I learned. It turned out to be both. There is a spectrum of gender and sexual identity, and Rylee falls somewhere on the sexuality spectrum. Perhaps where she falls on the spectrum will shift, and that is okay.
I found Mama Dragons through a co-worker Mama, and it took me a while to join. Once I did join about a year ago, I realized that the network of support you find in Mama Dragons, the love and understanding, is tremendous. I find great joy in having the opportunity to pour out the same love I feel for Rylee in the form of Paper Hugs and just joined Wrapped in Hugs so I can make a blanket for a baby dragon who needs some extra special warmth. My hope is that all the Mamas out there (and the Papas) can discover the rest of us who understand to some extent the challenges our baby dragons face as they navigate a world that struggles to embrace “different”, to accept change. We still have work to do on our journey to be our authentic selves, to face the ignorance of our extended family who do not understand or accept LGBTQ+ people or recognize their humanity and right to equity and acceptance.
What I want most for my children is that they know themselves, accept themselves, and reach their full potential as humans. I hope this brings security and happiness. What I know is that I will be here for them through all of it, and I love being part of a network of Mamas who strive to do the same.