GIRL TALK: Pride and prejudice

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First Posted: 8/19/2013

This past weekend was Pridefest at Kirby Park. I can think of nothing more inspiring than to see people from all different lifestyles coming out publicly and being proud of who they are. The world would be such a better place if we could all celebrate our uniqueness instead of living in fear of being judged for it.

There is a part of me that I have hidden from my column for the past year. Inspired by my friends at Pride, I am coming out about it because it’s a huge part (the most important in fact) about me, and who I am. I have been judged for it, praised for it, talked about because of it, yet it is without a doubt the greatest thing I have ever done with my life.

My name is Melissa, and I am a mother.

Being a single mom does not come without its hardships, but motherhood is the greatest title I have ever taken on. My daughter is the most fascinating, incredible person and it is unbelievable to me how much people in today’s society have judged me for having a child out of wedlock, regardless of how good of a job I (and her dad) have done with her.

I was with her father for over six years. We have been apart now for almost three, yet we remain the closest of friends. Sometimes, people’s relationships don’t work out. Love isn’t always enough, but I am thankful every day to have such a great relationship with him and I couldn’t ask for a better co-parent.

Last summer, I called one of my friends over in a panic. I had been seeing someone and, like most girls I know, we had a scare. I was two weeks late and freaking out. If I was pregnant (thankfully, I wasn’t) I would be an unmarried girl with two kids from two different guys.

She looked at me and said that without knowing me, or my life, had she just passed me on the street, she would automatically think I was a slut. Knowing my back story, she knows that is not the case. We talked about the fact that this is a conclusion that people often jump to. It is my goal to change their ways of thinking.

Who are they to pass judgment? Not just on me, but on anyone who is in a different life situation than they are.

I’m not your typical PTA mom, but I am in the PTA. I don’t have a minivan, but I coach my daughter’s cheerleading squad. I love my daughter, and even if I am not the most conventional mom, she is the happiest kid I have ever met and I love her more than words could ever say.

So this is me encouraging you to be proud of your differences and accept others for theirs. If you meet someone who is gay, straight, another race or religion, unemployed, disabled, has 50 kids or 50 cats, embrace and celebrate their differences. Variety is the spice of life, and I’ve always preferred things a little spicy.