There was no doubt in my mind that some of our closest supporters doubted us as parents. After all here we were two moms raising a son. The model was always a mother and a father, so the concern was how Judah would become a man without that male influence in the home. First of all, it wasn’t as if our son would be void of any male role models. He had a wonderful grandfather, uncles and male cousins along with friend’s of ours. Meanwhile, I know many children who had a mother and a father (me for one) and the father was hardly ever home. AND when he was he certainly didn’t spend any time with the children. But to some that was better than not having a father at all. Well do you know what I say to that? Bull Crap! Meanwhile we knew though the proof would have to be in the pudding. Judah would have to be the one to show them he was as normal as any other kid.
Listen, Carol and I were raised by heterosexual parents as most of us were. We both had a mother and father. However, our fathers were not involved in the raising of us. That wasn’t their job. I had a father but I really didn’t know him that well growing up. As kids the father was the parent to fear and the one to stay out of their hair when they were home. And so, technically we had dads. They lived with us. But emotionally my dad was not there. It’s difficult to hear people excuse how even an absent father was better than no father. Let me say this. I am not here to convince anyone to accept my family nor am I going to ever prove my existence. Let’s face it most who feel that way are usually backed by their religion so changing their minds has always been mute. HOWEVER, when one’s opinion crosses the line and tries to change or keep the laws from allowing me to be equal then that has always been a different story. That I will fight.
Listen, I get that having a mom and a dad have been what people have been familiar. That has been the model to immolate for many generations. So, when new models have emerged (throughout history), it has frightened people. Funny how change tends to do that to people. Change- such a simple word that causes not so simple reactions.
Here let me give some examples. First, if you just look at history you can see how when new concepts and ideas were introduced it made people scared. Hell, imagine the poor fellow who was the first one to have said the earth was round. Lets just say he wasn’t so popular and in fact people thought he should be put to death. Because of people’s religious convictions they thought the concept of the world being round was evil and so it justified why the man (who introduced the idea) should be killed. Here was the thing. The idea the world was round contradicted everything people believed and so it was easier to ridicule the person who introduced the new concept than to try to understand it (let alone to maybe accept it over time). The bottom line was fear (of change). And in the fear it stifled a group of people causing them to not only be resistant but hateful too. It also caused many sensible people to conjure up crazy untruths to scare people in keeping things the same.
Another example was during the 1800 when only white men could vote. Just the thought of a woman voting brought on a huge wave of anger, resistance and hatred. That hatred seems to come out of that fear every time. A woman allowed to vote back then was outrageous. Many felt if women were allowed to vote it would have been at the hand of the devil. In 2012 it seems laughable. Come on. How could a woman voting cause such fear? Where was the logic? But once again their religion was used to justify it. It was amazing how powerful their fear was. And when people were afraid they tended to spout and accept irrational ideas in order to keep change from happening.
Each time a new group has come forward and demanded their own equalities, the same fear surfaces and the same kinds of illogical ideas have been spatted to try to keep change from happening. AND even more so out comes the hatred. Dammit the same thing happened to the blacks during the Civil War and during segregation. The minorities are different each time through out history but the same irrational excuses spawned from fear (usually fueled by religion) was used to justify why another should be oppressed. Amazing how history repeats itself- different people but the same scenario.
Anyway, my point was the same fear used through out history is the same being used against the gay and lesbian community. The illogical fear that we want to somehow “take over” and “convert” people is absurd. No offense but our “condition” doesn’t spread and we have no need to prosthelytize. I promise you. We aren’t wanting to take over the world and to wipe out heterosexual parenting. On the contrary. Why would we? Some of my best friends are heterosexual parents. Hell, our parents were! The bottom line has always been we just want to be parents like anyone else.
When Judah was four years old I entered a writing contest with an organization in Atlanta called “MEGA family project”. It’s a wonderful organization that provides workshops on all kinds of informative issues like adoption, making sure we have legal documents to secure our estates to our partners and so much more. The other part of the organization was also to create relationships between same sex parents so we’d have a support system in raising our kids. The winner of the contest (and their family) would win a Rosie O’Donnell cruise to the Caribbean for 7 days. I had never won anything in my life but I loved to write, so I thought I’d at the least give it a try. Plus, I knew I had a story to tell. Hell, how many folks out there could say they were Jewish, a lesbian, living in a small Southern town and raising a son?
So, I wrote the essay and honestly, forgot about it. Several weeks later I was riding in the car with a family friend. Just as I was telling her about the essay I had written, my cell phone rang. Lo and behold it was the director of the MEGA family project. I couldn’t believe it. She was calling to tell me I had won the trip. I laughed with Carol saying I probably won because I was the only one who entered. But, whatever the case may have been Carol and I were so excited. We couldn’t wait to tell Judah about the cruise and how many of the kids on the cruise would have same sex parents. OK, so we were a little excited about seeing Rosie O’Donnell but honestly, we had a more important reason. We were so excited for Judah to see all of the kids who had two moms or two dads. For weeks leading up to our trip we kept talking it up with Judah. We had expected him to be thrilled to be around other kids who also had same sex parents. But, he wasn’t impressed at all. Instead he was more interested in talking about riding on the big boat and going to the beach. That disappointed us but we thought he’d change his mind when we’d actually get on the ship.
When the date of the cruise arrived we were beside ourselves. We arrived a day earlier and spent the night with my aunt and uncle who took us to the ship the next day. As we were boarding the ship we immediately started to point out to Judah all of the same sex moms and dads. We were surprised when even then Judah didn’t care. He was only interested in the big ship and knowing when we’d be going swimming. Carol and I were baffled. How could he not be interested or at aw like we were? There were so many families like us and it was amazing. The feeling Carol and I had was just like when we were kids and we saw Disney World for the first time. It was exciting and thrilling to be around others who were like us. Through all of the hardships we had experienced it was an awesome thought that for 7 days we could be like any other family with out having to defend or explanation. No one was going to stare at us or ask us any crazy questions. OK, so Carol and I did get seasick for a couple of days which was yucky but aside from that it was a nice trip. We met many wonderful couples who we still correspond with today via Facebook.
We learned a lot from going on the cruise. One thing we learned was we are definitely NOT boat people. But that’s another story. More importantly though, there were some nice family activities and the most memorable activity was a panel discussion which was made up of first generation teenagers conceived and raised by same sex parents. The purpose was to allow same sex parents to ask them questions about what it was like to be raised by same sex parents. You know things like: What did their friends think? Were they bullied? Well, there was one question I had never thought about and I have never forgotten since that day. An audience member asked the kids on the panel, “Do you feel as if you have to be exemplary in everything you do because if you aren’t others would say it was because you have two moms or two dad?” WOW! What an amazing question and one that got me thinking. With a panel of 12 or so teenagers would you believe all of them answered, “YES!” BUT, even so they didn’t mind. They knew they needed to show the world they were OK and to do that they had to always be on their toes. It was just part of their life. They loved their lives and under no circumstances would they trade their parents. They loved their parents just like all kids do. They were so wise and they gave me a perspective I couldn’t know. I learned a lot that day.
When we returned from our cruise Judah couldn’t wait to get back to preschool to tell his friends and teachers about his trip. All Judah could talk about was how big the ship was and that was what he wanted to tell his friends. I was excited to pick Judah up from school on his first day back because I wanted to hear what he told everyone about his trip. And so as I had always done on our drive home I started asking him questions about his day. When I asked him what he told his class about the cruise he answered, “Momma, you were there (on the cruise) so why do I have to repeat everything?” I told him I’d stop and for most of the ride home we were quiet. Just as we were almost home Judah broke the silence and said, “Momma, can you believe that Megan (a girl in his class) has a mom and a dad?” And that was when it all hit me. LIGHT BULB (back to the GRU character on Despicable Me).
How dumb of me! The fact was Judah had two moms raising him and that was his normal. TO be on a ship with other kids who had same sex parents wasn’t different to our kid. It was what he knew, so why were Carol and I always pointing it out to him? I’m sure he was clueless as to why we kept pestering him about it. In reality it was both me and Carol who were at awe by seeing other families like ours because that was not how we were raised. Our kid could have cared less. So what? After all it wasn’t anything he hadn’t seen or known. It was his world.
AND so I looked in my rear view mirror at Judah after he told me about Megan’s parents. I smiled at him and said, “Why yes, Judah she does have a mom and dad. Why do you say?” Judah just smiled back at me and said, “No reason. I just thought it was different.” Out of the mouths of babe!
It took my (at the time) 4 year old to open my own eyes so that I could see (and understand) his world. It is a work in progress though as I have a lot to learn. Meanwhile, I am proud to say my kid embodies all that is good in change and because of it, he will never know fear.