Trying Twice as Hard
The old adage about women in the workforce, that we have to work twice as hard as men to be thought half as good, is sort of how I've seen lesbians take on parenting. Except we're working twice as hard as heterosexuals, hoping to be considered good enough.
Or maybe that's just my generation of gayby boomer. The I-think-I-can decade of lesbian moms, instead of the of-course-I-can generation that is filling up the mommy and me classes and exchanging phone numbers in the grocery store with other single pregnant lesbians. We thought we had to have an ideal household: stable, monogamous, enough money to put food on the table, jobs with health insurance for the family, semi-receptive Grandparents, a mortgage, a mini-van and a Labrador Retriever.
Nowadays, lesbian moms don't seem so demanding of themselves. Straight moms either. In fact, I can't tell the alternative moms from the bi-moms from the dyke moms in the hallways at school, so that must be progress, right?
Labradors do still seem de rigueur, except for the upper-middle-class mommies who have Labradoodles so they don't shed.
But I don't think the new lesbian mommies think they need to be Supermom just to be accepted, like we did. Their positive identity doesn't seem to hinge on PTA membership, volunteer hours logged or enrichment classes endured during their children's preschool years. They just are. In retrospect, I suspect we were living under the weight of a whole lotta internalized homophobia, because our actual experiences indicated we had nothing to prove.
Sure, we were the first two-mom family in our older son's co-op preschool, but three years later, in 1995, our daughter's first pediatrician told us she thought lesbians made the best parents. Since then, about five of our kids' teachers said the same. Nearly half a dozen kids have complained so much to their families about not having two moms that the parents told us they were getting fed up with justifying their heterosexuality and explaining that fathers had a use in the family, too.
Actually, the moms looked a little smug about it. Moms don't mind being adored. The men might have been a little miffed.
It was a good thing we got out of the Supermom business by the time our third kid came along. Not only is it traditional to benignly neglect third children (which is why they come with a guardian angel at birth) by taking fewer photographs and video of their achievements, lowering all hygiene standards regarding their appearance and becoming more laissez faire about safety, but he steadfastly refused to be a fine reflection of our parenting prowess.
We weren't sure that we were glad it wasn't just our lousy parenting when he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum; fixing our parenting habits might have been easier than shifting our parenting paradigm. But one thing has remained constant, his classmates are just as jealous of his two-mom family as the typical kids his siblings sat next to at school. And the teachers are just as positive.
Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)