So Who’s the Real Mom?

Lesbian motherhood isn’t just a one-sided gig, it’s for both of you.

When heterosexuals have a baby, no one questions the automatic paternal status of a husband, whether or not he supplied the sperm. When lesbians breed, minds’ boggle at the notion of two moms; the maternal role seems to go with biology, leaving what? Dad? Aunt? Godmother? Pal? No way. Cement that maternal role for the other mother using this completely unsolicited advice:

Talk the talk; when you begin discussing the possibility of parenting, use the maternal monikers you’d like your baby to use, whether traditional—mom, mommy, mum, mama, or alternative—mima, uma, moppa, you name it. Begin as you intend to go on.

Walk the walk; when you’re both the moms, you’re both pregnant (OK, so one of you doesn’t get swollen ankles and heave, but you can both gain thirty pounds if you really want to). When you express and think of the pregnancy as a joint venture, it gets communicated to your family and friends.

Synchronize your attitudes; while pregnancy and nursing biologically bond you with an infant, being there does too. Believing you are a parent, and that your partner is equally a parent, will not only prevent confusion by others, it will help ease you over rough spots—like when the pediatrician looks at you blankly and says, “How can that be? You can’t have two mothers.”

Once the baby is out, so are you; being open about your family from day one gets all the cards on the table and prevents misunderstandings, hurt feelings or unintentional inequities. People can’t respect your family structure if they don’t know it.

Utilize your legal options; protect your new baby and family by obtaining all the legal support money can buy—starting before your baby has arrived preferably. Once your families know that legally you are both parents, both have responsibility for the baby and that no one can take the baby legally and run, they will feel safer bonding with the baby, and respect you as a family. Legal documents mean business.

Speak up; be sure to correct misunderstandings or slights as soon as they happen. When Aunt Josephine asks you when you are going to have a baby of your own (as if the baby your partner just gave birth to belongs to her alone) correct her assumptions and let her know that you are both parents, equally, no matter the biology of the baby.

Accept inevitable differences with grace; no two moms are exactly alike, and no two moms will be treated, loved or interacted with alike by any baby in the ever-lovin’ world. Play to your strengths and be the best parents you can be, whether you are look-a-like-lesbians, or a variation on the June and Ward model, minus a Y-chromosome.    

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,, 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. (