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Tag Archives: Children being raised by same sex parents

What does our kid do on Father’s Day?

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Well, today is Father’s Day… a day we acknowledge and honor our fathers. It’s a day that both me and Carol have celebrated with our fathers since we were born. However, this year will be Carol’s second year without her father and well, as for me, even longer than that. It was just a given today would be a day we’d tell our dads thank you and that we loved them. And even if they were a bad dad like mine, we still seemed to have that obligation to recognize them. It’s funny how that worked. After all when I was a kid Dad’s had different roles in the family than they do now. At that time they weren’t expected to change diapers, do any cleaning and most of all they were not responsible for raising their own children. SO, as a kid this was my perception of my “dad”… He was a man who lived in our house. He often walked around in his boxer underwear and a t-shirt because, well, that’s what made him comfortable. He was very good at yelling at us kids and telling us everything we were doing wrong. Up until the age of 10 I was scared of him and hated to go anywhere with him. He never played games with us or volunteered to do things we kids liked to do. He was a menacing figure who I was supposed to love and respect, well, because, he was my father. And so, for the longest time I did. But as I became stronger and had a child of my own, I could no longer continue to be the brunt of his explosive behavior. I stopped all contact with him until his death in 2007. That’s not to say I don’t miss him…but to be frank, I always missed him. I wanted the dad next door…the one who was loving, caring and wanted to be with his children. Sadly, no matter how much I dreamed for that dad, mine was never to be capable of it. MaLea graduation

Carol’s relationship with her dad was much different. Now, as she is 9 years older than me, her father played even more of the traditional role in her family. He went to work and her mom stayed at home. However, her childhood photos tell a much different story than mine. She has wonderful photos of her dad taking her motorbiking and going on family trips. OK, well, I do know it wasn’t all peaches and cream. Her dad also had a temper and not a lot of patience. He liked to do what he wanted to do and if one of his children had the same interest then they were lucky to be able to share it with their dad. However, there was never a doubt the love Carol’s dad had for his children and wife. He made mistakes like we all do as parents BUT he did so all the while loving his family very much. I got to know him and grew to love him as my own father. That’s not to say we didn’t have our arguments…we both loved a good debate. And we had many. BUT, at the same time, we had some good laughs. Boy did I like his barrel laugh. The best was when we’d bring over our dachshund puppy. Edward loved that dog. He’d put him in his lap. Our puppy would lick his face and Edward would just laugh and laugh. Even to this day that memory makes me smile. It was devastating when Edward died a year in a half ago. It’s weird because since he passed, there does seem to be a piece missing in the family. No doubt he will always be missed.
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It’s interesting because just comparing my father to Carol’s father there are vast differences. We both had one but their roles in our lives were not the same. And even though I had one, I always wanted a different one. I wanted the one that lived next door. There was my friend, Anne, who had a father who was always smiling and caring. He even played tennis which I thought that was cool. It’s as we say, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” As a kid we seem to dream up how the “other” would be better. In my case, I’m thinking it probably would have been better BUT I was dealt this lot. This was what I was given. Bashert.

And now on to our son who as y’all know is being raised by two moms. It boggles some people’s mind he can be a normal kid without a father. After all, he needs a man in his life, right? Well, first of all people… we do NOT void our kid of men in his life. On the contrary…our kid has many wonderful men who spend time with him and love him. He has fabulous uncles, cousins, teachers, coaches and men friends who he calls uncle. Judah probably gets more attention from those men than Carol and I ever did from our own dads who lived with us. SO, sorry Charlie’s just because we are two women who love each other does not mean we are anti man. The other question I get asked is what does our son do on Father’s Day. Well, today he woke up late, made himself some coffee and is now watching basketball on the computer. To him Father’s Day is like Christmas and Easter…he doesn’t celebrate them but has many friends who do. AND, just like the Jewish kid who has never celebrated Christmas, it’s just not part of his world to miss any part of it. Let me give an example. Let’s say you were raised celebrating Christmas but converted to Judaism as an adult. You had wonderful memories of your childhood during that holiday. When you have children you long for your kids to have those same memories. You begin to feel bad that they can’t have them because of the choices you made. However, if you look at this example with a more neutral perspective you’ll see that you are only projecting what you long for or miss onto your kids. Because it’s something WE miss, we assume our kids are missing it too. BUT, how can our kids miss something they never experienced or had in their life? Listen, Carol and I often forget Judah’s normal is being raised by two moms. Our normal was being raised by a mom and dad. Two different experiences. And yet we still find ourselves projecting onto Judah which is very unfair. And yet it is bound to happen simply because of how we were each raised. And y’all know what? It’s OK.

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Listen, our kid has taught us a lot. Each day is a learning experience for us. Judah seems to know exactly how to settle our many worries. He has often pointed out that our concerns are steeped from experiences that are not relevant to his world. To him it’s like apples and oranges. Both are OK but both cannot be eaten in the same way.

I’ll never forget when Judah was 4 he came home from preschool and announced, “I want a dad.” Mine and Carol’s first instinct was to freak out. Here we are two woman raising a son AND how many people (including family) would tell us how he’s going to miss out. And now here we were being confronted by it from our kid. However, our panic subsided as we thought about his age. FOr goodness sake he’s 4…the very age they can ask where babies come from and when you go to tell them about the birds and bees they cut you off and say, “No, I mean what hospital.”

Listen, when Judah was four he was in the bathroom with Carol. He was on the counter looking in the mirror with his mouth wide open. After a few minutes he asked Carol,”Why do I have a scrotum in the back of my throat?” And so, we knew Judah’s question about wanting a dad was a bit more basic. We asked him why he felt he wanted a dad. He told us that Christopher’s dad would get on the floor and wrestle and he really liked that. Carol and I laughed. We pointed out his other friends and their dads…all of whom don’t get on the floor and wrestle. Judah looked at us. He smiled and said, “Oh, I know.” He pointed to Carol and added, “Mom, you always like to dress up with me to play pretend stuff. I DON’T know ANY of my friend’s MOMS or DADS who do that!”

And so, friends, family and strangers don’t worry about our kid. He’s just fine. He has two big Momma’s who love him with all their heart. If A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G feel bad for him on Mother’s Day…because on that day he has TWO gifts to give!

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gram, C,J

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Hugs to all who celebrate Father’s Day today!

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No one is better or more normal.

Over two years ago my partner and I were so nervous for our son, Judah, who was entering Kindergarten at our local public school. We had the same fears as any other parent. Would our son make friends? Would our son be successful in school? And most of all how would I spend my days now that our son was in school? As a stay at home mom I was so sad to see our son growing up and it was so hard letting him go.

To be honest I was never afraid Judah wouldn’t make friends because he had two moms. I can’t speak for my partner, Carol, though. My thought was he already had plenty of friends and a large support system which included a large extended family. He was a confident little guy who was cute and smart but I know I am slightly biased. On the flip side we were realistic. There could be a parent, teacher and/or child who may say something hurtful to our son. But, that is the case for all children. And those who pick on others usually pick something personal that they know will upset the child. So, in our son’s case it could be him having two moms. And because of that we wanted Judah to be prepared.

Our first steps came long before Judah was even conceived. First, Carol and I made the decision to live our lives openly so when we did have a child we’d have the strength to help guide him.  It took time. We had to understand the external homophobia, come to terms with it and move beyond it so we’d be able to give our child the best possible tools to live proudly and unashamed. After all how could we teach our son love and respect if we weren’t respecting ourselves (which I feel hiding exemplifies)? And how could we ask that he push through his fears if we remained stagnant in our own? It was hard to change and it was scary but through practice it got easier. By the time our son was born we definitely were in a better place to be better moms.

We are always reminded that our son is watching us and learning from our actions. Judah witnesses how others treat us and he observes how we react. This reminds me… Judah and I went to a local market in town. He was about 4 years old. We were at the check out counter and Judah was helping the cashier by handing items in the cart to her. The cashier was impressed and said to Judah, “Your mom must be proud you’re being so helpful.” Judah looked at her like she was crazy and said, “My mom is at home. How does she know what I’m doing?” The cashier was clearly taken off guard and couldn’t comprehend what my son just told her. Judah added,”Oh, this is my Momma. I have two moms.” The cashier looked very confused by that point. She truly could not fathom a child could have two moms. Judah couldn’t understand the confusion and looked at me for help. I told the cashier that my son was absolutely correct. He has two moms. The cashier who had seen us shopping there for over a year never made that connect until that moment. Her mouth dropped open and her eyes got really big. Once I paid for my groceries, I very politely thanked the cashier and Judah and I left the store. On the way home Judah asked why the cashier didn’t understand he had two moms. It was a great opportunity for us to talk. I wanted Judah to know that no matter how the other person reacts, we should always be kind and polite.

A couple of weeks later Judah and my partner returned to that store. That same cashier who seemed so shocked by Judah having two moms went up to Judah when she saw him that day. She knelt down to his eye level and handed him three bags of jelly beans. She told him one bag was for him, one was for his Mom and one was for his Momma. It was such a sweet moment (no pun) and a good learning experience for Judah.

Unfortunately, Judah doesn’t get to see many other gay families who are out. It gets lonely as many other (gay) families are closeted. We have often seen other (gay) families in the grocery store. Each time we hope to be able to strike up a conversation with them but more often than not they choose to keep to themselves. Often they won’t even make eye contact with those around them. Believe me it’s not easy being out but I can’t understand having children and keeping them from being open and honest about their family.

My partner and I lived in the closet for the first few years of our relationship. We finally realized we couldn’t continue to live in hiding because of our own fears of what could happen. We needed to live for ourselves and for our children. It was important we lived as any other normal family so that we didn’t become part of the (internal) homophobia and pass it on to our children. And more importantly we didn’t want to create the same restraining life for our son as we had. The reality is it hasn’t been easy living openly. I lost a job and a community as a result. We’ve paid a price but I’d never trade one of those days to be back in the closet. We are happy and are able to be positive roll models. We are also teaching our son that even when there are unfair things that happen to us, we hold our head up high and keep going. Listen, I can’t control what others think of me, but I can change my world so that we’re happy. In doing so it has allowed our son to see the truths that exist in the world and how to handle it.

During these near 8 years with having Judah, he has taught us so much. He recently asked, “Why are you and Mom so worried about preparing me for kids not liking me because I have two moms? None of my friends care. And if someone did, you know it’s not their fault. It’s only how their parents taught them.” His words ran straight to my heart. I told him he was right but it’s hard because the child can grow up to think like his parent. Judah was quiet for a moment and then said, “I have a plan. Since it’s the parents who need to be educated, you can make friends with them and show them we are just like every other family. You can show them I am a normal kid who just so happens to have two moms, 3 cats and two dogs and is no different than they are.”

It was then I realized something that should have been so obvious. Our son has only ever known his life with two moms. That’s his normal.  Because my partner and I were raised by straight parents it’s not familiar territory so we tend to make assumptions as to the experiences our son will have. Instead, we need to learn to trust him and follow his lead because he’s the one with the insight. Judah doesn’t continuously think about having two moms. It’s just what it is and who his parents are. Obviously, many of his friends have a mom and dad but in his eyes that’s just who makes up their family. No one is better or more normal. No big deal in his eyes. He doesn’t care his family is a minority. To him it’s irrelevant. What matters to him is we are here to love him, to hug him when he needs it and to tuck him safetly into bed each night. How can any parent ask for anymore than that?

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2011 in abusive fathers

 

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