Not everyone who wants to be a mother wants to carry a baby.
For some women, that urge to physically grow another human never arrives; however the desire to be a mother does. The ‘maternal instinct’ comes in many forms, and is different for everyone. It is a spectrum – with those like me, who love and in fact yearn for the feeling of being pregnant on one end, and others who have absolutely no desire whatsoever, even finding the thought abhorrent, on the other end. Most women fall somewhere in between.
My ex-partner, who I shall refer to as T, definitely was one of those who naturally gravitated towards the opposite end of the spectrum to me. My wife Lisa also would situate herself further down that end. Yet these two are both amazing mothers, who could not be more loving and doting. As it turns out, T ended up ‘going in for a bat’, successfully conceiving and carrying our lovely Miss D, as I couldn’t successfully fall pregnant at that time and we desperately wanted a sibling for Master Z.
But that’s a story for another day…
My eldest two kids, who I affectionately dub ‘The Bigs’ describe themselves as not having two mothers, but four. T and I went our separate ways when they were only young: Master Z was four and Miss D was one. It was an extremely difficult time as relationship breakdowns involving kids inevitably are, but we did our best to always put the kids and their needs first.
I couldn’t ask for a better person to co-parent with.
T met her partner J about eighteen months after our separation. T and J have been together for ten years now, and so ‘The Bigs’ have been raised with J heavily involved in their lives for as long as they can remember. They love her and it is very mutual. My wife Lisa and I have been together four and a half years now, and these last few years with Lisa in our lives have been the best years we have had as a family. So it makes me burst with pride to hear my kids politely correcting people when they enquire about their family:
‘We’ve actually got four mothers’.
This generation of youth is SO much less hostile about these things. I love it. Reactions involve little more than conversational explanation and as soon as they explain that two are actually ‘stepmothers’, that’s it – most kids just nod in that knowing way and move on. End of discussion.
Being gay just isn’t the stigmatised ordeal it was in past years.
I remember whispers and finger pointing at a senior student someone suspected was ‘that way inclined’ when I was at school at a private all girls’ school twenty-five years ago. The ‘L’ word was taboo in that circle, and in my completely sheltered and ignorant youth, I remember just staring and staring at her from behind. I felt sorry for her, and secretly felt relieved it wasn’t me that was the subject of the whispers.
Little did anyone know…particularly not me.
As for the same sex family thing, young people these days really don’t seem to mind. Well, in our circles anyway. Maybe it’s just that the kids have learned from a young age to be selective in who they befriend, I don’t know. As well as gay celebrity icons, we have ground-breaking TV shows such as ‘Modern Family’ and ‘The Fosters’ and films such as ‘Brokeback Mountain’ to thank for this. To society’s credit, today’s youth are far more aware of the diverse world we live in, and therefore tend to be far more understanding about alternative families and their dynamics.
The inclusive curriculum and anti-bullying approaches fostered in our schools towards differences in terms of gender, sexuality, ethnicity and disability are all paving the way for a smoother educational experience for those a little ‘left of the middle’. We are not there yet, but I can see a future ahead with leaders possessing far more empathy and understanding towards difference than displayed by those of generations before us.
The split family status of our family adds an extra dimension of difficulty to our kids’ lives, which is why T, J, Lisa and I have always worked so hard to establish a harmonious relationship between the two houses. It is something I feel extremely proud of, as it truly hasn’t been easy. Forging a long term functional relationship is hard enough within one same sex family, let alone between two.
The effort, however, is paying dividends now with children who are secure, and happy, knowing that no matter what happens, they have four people in their lives who will together put them and their needs first.
No matter what.
7 thoughts on “Modern Family”
On an acutely side note – the name ‘Big’ takes me back two decades to the name Mr Big (or at other times simply ‘Big’) in SEX AND THE CITY. Nothing screams ‘Late 90’s’ to me like Kerrie Bradshaw and her gal pals (with the possible exception of maybe a Britney-in-pigtails music video)
Ps. The colour of Miss D and Master Z’s blazers really does boldly spin the colour wheel to ‘fire-engine-(with siren sounding)-red’ doesn’t it!
Oh yes I remember Big from Sex and the City too… loved that show, although for some reason never watched it from start to finish, only ever saw a random selection of episodes.
And yes Glen, there is no escaping public attention in blazers that colour!!! They do look very smart though I think.
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Love, love, love! I am in some ways a very traditional mum at home, while my lovely husband goes to work. I have three amazing and very untraditional children, and my daughter has a lovely girlfriend. She often complains (not really!) that she did not have a coming out story involving trauma… she is who she is and we wouldn’t change her for the world!
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That’s so funny Benedicte! Isn’t it wonderful to think that for many lucky ones, coming out just isn’t even a ‘thing’ anymore? It certainly was for me. And I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. Well done to you for raising children confident and secure enough to embark on their own path, be it traditional or untraditional. Your daughter is a very lucky girl. 🙂
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It’s been so important for me to create an atmosphere of total acceptance with my kids. Which it turns out is just as well, as they all have various disabilities and parenting them successfully relies completely on TRUST! I especially loved her Dad’s reaction when she told us she was gay: phew! I don’t need to worry about boys!! We had a laugh! Her brothers are also lovely, and we all love her girlfriend… who doesn’t love that first innocent relationship? 🙂
Your husband sounds like quite a character! I laughed out loud at his reaction, what a wonderful perspective. So much of parenting relies on trust, I completely agree. You sound like you have established an atmosphere of mutual trust with your kids too Benedicte, where your children feel completely free to be themselves. Your children are very lucky indeed.
Thank you so much