May is a pretty big month in my family. Sunday, of course, is Mother’s Day. My mom, Ellen, and I have often gone to a Red Sox game, complete with walking around the warning track that’s opened up for fans that day. But that leaves out my other mom, Maureen, because sports are not her thing. So, my guess is we’ll do something all three of us will enjoy.
And while that’s a fun and important day for us, less than a week later on May 17th we’ll remember a pivotal moment for our family and many others: Nine years ago, my moms were one of the very first couples to marry in Massachusetts.
I was 15 at the time, and it was a whirlwind of a day: getting their marriage license at Newton City Hall, then off to Probate Court to get an exemption to the three-day waiting period. In the late afternoon, on a sparkling spring day that felt more like June, we returned to City Hall. I stood with my moms while the Mayor married them in his office as cameras flashed from every corner.
And then it got really crazy. As we opened the doors leading outside, the sunbeams revealed an energetic and high-spirited crowd of supporters. A few steps behind, I watched my parents step outside, hand-in-hand, as the crowd let out the loudest cheer I had ever heard (outside of a Sox-Yankee game of course). I saw the joy, but I didn’t quite grasp the significance of what it all meant.
Earlier that year during a legislative challenge to the law, I spoke out for our family at a state house rally. Looking at my notes now, I’m struck that while progress continues towards marriage equality, including the two historic cases now before the US Supreme Court, it remains out of reach for millions of American families.
Back then, I described myself as an average teenager. I played softball, volleyball, took karate and liked going to the mall and seeing movies. I talked about my parents, both lawyers, who had already spent 25 years together as a couple, and that I didn’t know many others who could say they’d been together that long.
My parents then and now, are my role models. They love each other, care for one another, and for me — we’re family. After graduating from college in Maine, I came back to Boston and I’ve spent the past two years at Generations Incorporated, a literacy non-profit that engages older adults as tutors and mentors to children struggling with reading. That sense of doing something that might make a difference comes from my parents in the same way that my love of sports comes from my mom, Ellen, and my movie buff side comes from mom Maureen.
One thing I’ve learned is that whatever we do on Sunday, writing a nice card goes a long way. It gives each of them something personal and meaningful, and it forces me to put into words and reiterate just how much I appreciate their love and support.
I never really thought of my parents as trailblazers. To me they were — and are — simply my parents. But I’ve seen them stand up for our family, beginning with filing a landmark case that allowed both of them to legally adopt me when I was four.
It didn’t really surprise me when they stepped forward again to ensure that they and thousands of other loving Massachusetts couples could make that special, lifetime commitment through marriage. I was proud of them and it’s why the month of May resonates even a little more in our family.
Kate Brodoff lives in Brookline. Her parents, Ellen Wade and Maureen Brodoff, were one of the plaintiff couples in the Goodridge case.