All You Need is Love, Not two Parents of Opposite Sex.
When my wife and I are out in public with our five children, we are often mistaken for two friends on a play date with their kids. This is only one of many ways that we, as a two-mom family, can feel invisible. We have, unfortunately, become accustomed to the prying questions, as curious people try to figure out how to categorize us: “Is she your friend? Coworker? Your sister? Oh….?”
We are used to questions; we get a lot of them, as most big families do. “Are they all yours?!” and “How do you do it?!” These ones aren’t nearly as hard or irritating as the more personal ones, like “Who’s the real mom?” and, “Where’s the dad?”. The fact of the matter is simple: we are both the real moms. We learned early on, before having children together, that biology doesn’t matter. What matters is the time, love, and care you give to a child – which we had in ample supply for all of our kids from the get go. When we explain this, albeit as briefly as possible, to people, they often come back with, “yeah, but who actually had the baby?”
Why does it matter? My wife carried our last child, and I am the Non-Gestational Parent (NGP). Technically fathers are NGPs too, but they just get the spiffy title of daddy and nobody bats an eye. Throw an extra pair of breasts into a relationship and all of a sudden we need a new term to classify us. We went through all the same things ‘normal’ couples go through while having a baby. She had cravings, (all things cold- they couldn’t ever be cold enough!) and I would go out, no matter what time of day and get them for her. She got hormonal, and because I am a woman too, I got hormonal with her. The benefit was we could cry together and I never once thought she was crazy. I supported her, and rubbed her back during labour. I caught our son and placed him on her chest. Everything was exactly the same as it would have been if we had been a heterosexual couple. She nursed the baby, I changed diapers. We both woke to the baby crying in the night, though I was lucky and got to go back to sleep while she settled him. There were some differences though. Because our son wasn’t my biological son, I didn’t qualify for any parental leave unless we paid thousands of dollars for an adoption. That’s right- same-sex couples still need to adopt their own children. I worked overtime before he was born so I could take four weeks off work after he arrived. Fathers are afforded parental leave by the mere act of providing a genetic contribution. Two and a half years later, this truth still stings.
The questions have become routine. We are asked how our children were conceived, which is rude and personal. People ask us if our donors are involved in our life–slightly less rude, but still inappropriate. Unfortunately, the only way to get people to see us as a regular family is to answer the questions, alleviate their confusion, and move on. It can be exhausting to constantly be an ambassador for the LGBT community.
I vividly remember the first time our children learned that their family was different. When they learned that same-sex relationships are unlawful or even dangerous in some areas of the world, they couldn’t believe that love was punishable. “Why can’t people just love who they love?” they asked. Children are not born with prejudices, hate, or discrimination. The sad truth is that these are learned behaviors.
Even in our progressive community, we have experienced hate. Our children have been told that their family is “wrong,” or contrary to their religion. We have always been open and honest with them that there are people who will not believe we are a real family, or will not like us, because of who we love. They have never once shown embarrassment or been ashamed of us. They have stood up for their family with courage. They firmly believe that people should be allowed to love openly and freely. It is a shame that they have to deal with this at all, especially with all the strides the LGBT community has made, but unfortunately, ignorance and prejudice is still present in some areas of our world.
Our children are resilient, and we are raising them to be proud of who they are and where they come from. At the end of the day children need parents who will love them unconditionally, and raise them to be happy, passionate, and wise individuals–it does not require parents of both sexes to accomplish such a task.