‘Lesbian Pants:’ On Trying, Failing, and Accidentally Succeeding at Motherhood

My daughter has one pair of pants she likes, so she wears them daily to school, to work in a deli kitchen, and to band practice, which means sometimes those cargos are stanky. Since she’s 18 years old, it is far past time for me to have any input on her wardrobe; although, sometimes, I can’t help but try to throw some love (and, okay, judgment) her way in the form of new clothes. This is how I found myself searching online for pants early last December. 

mom and daughter in kitchen
My usually very sweet-tempered daughter was not amused when she opened my gift envelope and asked if I had searched for “lesbian pants.” (Twenty20 @SmitBruins)

She’s a queer kid who truly appreciates the roominess of men’s pants and their spacious pockets. I know her measurements; I could have just ordered men’s cargo pants and called it a day. Did I listen to that instinct? I did not. For some reason, the belt-gathered fabric bunches at her waist bug me. We could do better than that, channeling some sexist rules about feminine silhouettes I felt I had successfully avoided internalizing. 

I tried a few sites that seemed likely to be made for people with hips and who have real pockets. Dickies seem to be popular with queer girls these days, I thought…Huh, weird. Too femme. How about cargo heaven (aka Old Navy)? Oh, hell no. Finally, I just typed “lesbian pants” into the search bar, and voila! Up popped a site with a lesbian pun URL that will not be named here. Let’s call it awkwardmomsoflesbians.com. The first image on the site was exactly what I’d been envisioning. Cargos! Pockets! Roomy legs! A drawstring waist! These would be a winner. I clicked order. 

The pants still hadn’t arrived by Christmas Eve, and the Facebook memes mocked me. “I don’t know who needs to hear this. But stop trying to track that package. It’s in God’s hands now,” they said. So, I printed a photo of the pants and put it in a festive envelope, though the fact that I cringed at the URL on the top of the picture should have been a red flag. I was starting to be anxious that my perfect gift was an exquisite mistake.

My search methods did not amuse my daughter

The following day, my usually very sweet-tempered girl was not amused when she opened the envelope. She looked at me and asked, “Did you just search for lesbian pants??” 


I laughed and hoped she’d see the humor in the situation. 

She didn’t. 

“I’m not a lesbian, Mom. You know that.” (She’s bi-sexual, and yes, I did know.)

“But they’re cargos! I thought they’d be a nice fit.” Sweet girl was pissed, and I wasn’t doing myself any favors by trying to explain my thinking. 

As a family, we tried to gather and move on with the Festive Moment, though the air in the room was funky with frustration. 

Later, I was lying down and feeling a little salty about the whole situation when a text from my girl dinged my phone.

“Hey, I’m sorry I gave you so much grief about the pants; I do appreciate your support and trying to find things I’d like <3 I promise I don’t hate them; I get weirdly uncomfortable with things labeled lesbian because it took me several years not to hate myself for not being fully gay (internalized biphobia is a mf). I need to work on not being immediately defensive, especially over inconsequential things. You’re wonderful, and I love you.”

I replied, “Thanks for that. I love you too, and I’m sorry I offended you.”

“That’s okay. That’s on me, not you.”

I put the phone down and just marveled at my kid. How did I get so lucky? 

I often suspect that I have made huge parenting mistakes

Sometimes I feel like I’m so emotionally stunted. I’m just out here flailing around like a goat on roller skates. I’m trying to be a supportive parent, but I often suspect I make huge mistakes. I look back over nearly two decades of guesswork and see my errors glaring like neon signs along the road. I can’t fathom how my daughter became so self-aware and gracious. It’s like she parented herself into this way of being. I carry a weird mix of guilt, amazement, and gratitude.

I sent this essay to my daughter to get her permission to share the personal details of her life and got back even more kindness. I had tears rolling down my face as I read her feedback.

“I love you so much as my mom and as a person, and I hope you can give yourself more credit for how I turned out. You’re one of the kindest and warmest people I know… I strive daily to embody the immense patience and whimsy with which you approach life. You’re a good mom, Corey Radman.”

Hoah…wow. Somebody hand me a tissue. That’s a message I’m going to make sure sticks in my memory. Maybe I’ll frame it and hang it on the wall. Parents worry so much about what might go wrong in their kids’ lives. It didn’t occur to me to consider how right it could go. There’s a rare beauty in being granted grace squared. When it comes from your kid, that’s grace.

There’s one more leg on this pant-tastic voyage. In mid-January, long after I completed the order I should have made in the first place (a duplicate pair of her favorite men’s cargos), the lesbian pants finally arrived. They were way too short and wildly itchy. The fashion tag on the leg reads, “Sophihcatedprodution Desigers Techical.”

After trying to parse the attempted spellings, I gave up and laughed. Nothing about this gift is correct, yet the moment it created between mother and daughter is one I’ll cherish. 

(Photo Cred: Corey Radman)

More Great Reading:

7 Ways to Support Your Gay or Bisexual Teen

About Corey Radman

Corey Radman is a ghostwriter and freelance book editor whose personal writing has been featured in several Colorado publications. She lives in Fort Collins with her family.

Read more posts by Corey

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