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.