Happy Mother's Day to Mama Bears

May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day to my mama bear, Tracy, and all the Mama Bears out there who are changing the lives of their queer biological children as well as the lives of the queer kids they take in as their own. Tracy has been my mama bear for a little over a year and I am so blessed to have her in my life.

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Last March, I filled out a form requesting that Mama Bears contact me. The form asks what kind of help you need, and they will do just about anything - from standing in as a parent at a queer wedding to just being someone to text every now and then. I asked for a mom who I could text and ask life questions about cooking and laundry and everyday things I found myself going to text my mom about before remembering that I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to expect, really, as I had just found out about them through a podcast (UnErased) and done a little research. Their online presence wasn’t big, and their website was a little cheesy, but I was desperate for motherly love that wasn’t tainted by “disagreement” about my “lifestyle”.

(If you’re queer & would like a Mama Bear, you can fill out the form here. To learn more about them, check out their new and improved website.)

A week or two later, my phone, email inbox, and facebook messages were absolutely FLOODED with messages from Mama Bears all over the country. I was grocery shopping when it started, and I walked myself to a deserted aisle to cry because I was so overwhelmed with love. I tried answering them all, but there were too many. Almost all of them told me that they didn’t need a reply, and I could respond to whoever I felt drawn to. They just wanted me to know how many of them were out there that cared about me.

So, I emailed Tracy back. I still have her original email in my inbox. We were just getting ready to move to the Philly area, and she lived near there. We exchanged numbers, and she told me I could text her any time. I wanted to meet up with her as soon as we were settled. We moved in May, and then June was Pride Month! I was super excited to be living near so many celebrations and festivals, and as it turned out, Tracy was going to be attending the very first one I was going to.

a picture of Carissa and Tracy at pride

I love that I got to meet my mama bear at a pride celebration - it feels only fitting.

Now, we text at least a few times a week, snapchat each other, and meet up as often as possible. She even came to watch my roller derby halftime debut, the first time I got to play for real in front of people. Being quaratined the last few months has me craving a mama bear hug, and I can’t wait to see her again.

a picture of Carissa and Tracy at Carissa's derby bout

Mother’s Day is a difficult holiday, for lots of reasons that feel too overwhelming to write about at the moment. But I am so thankful for my mama bear, who has changed my life for the better, and for mama bears everywhere who are changing lives.

If you want to watch a touching tribute to Mama Bears everywhere, watch Amber Cantorna read a letter to them.