Finally, Equal Rights for My Lesbian Mother

A daughter finds hope in the recent DOMA ruling after years of watching her mom fight discrimination.

Helena Andrews and her mother Frances Andrews (Patrick Ryan)

As much as I want to batten down the hatches and get hitched — especially seeing how intermittently difficult and lonely my mother’s life is as a single 60-something always flying by the seat of her pants — I admire the fact that absolutely nothing holds my mother back. It’s a strange dichotomy. On the one hand, she answers to no one, and on the other, she has no financial or emotional stability aside from me, whom she jokingly calls her “first and last,” and her 401k.

I’m sure during our week together we’ll grill fish she caught herself, ride horses she’s “borrowed” from a friend, walk along tracts of Virgin Island land she’ll try to convince me to buy for her and get drunk on margaritas served by a strange man on a boat.

I’ll finally get a handle on my mother’s new life in St. Croix when I go visit in August. For one week, I’ll play my post-30 role as the settled, successful daughter, while my mother will reprise the character of the wild, former flower child who’s had more careers than there are bullets to fit a resume, who’s never met a new town to which she didn’t mind moving or an old girlfriend she couldn’t wait to put in her rear view.

That’s who Frances my mother is: a woman whose plans don’t go further than sundown.

Before I started living with my boyfriend and talking marriage, if a friend wanted to jet off to Brazil for two weeks, I’d start packing. If there was an art exhibit in Paris I wanted to see, I’d go. If there was an interesting job opportunity in Thailand, I’d start learning the language. Now I think in terms of “we.” And just as much as my mother has been thrilled by the prospect of me getting anchored, I’m now equally hopeful that she can some day do the same.

Helena Andrews is a contributing editor at The Root and author of Bitch Is the New Black, a memoir in essays. Follow her on Twitter.