This post is by K.
It feels really weird to write about parenting when you are not a parent because really, we won’t know what we know until we know it. And we know that parenting will be a wild ride, take us to unexpected places, and generally challenge everything we think we know now. We don’t feel like we know everything…or anything…about parenting kids. Ask me about parenting our furkids and I can tell you exactly how I feel about the care, feeding, and loving of small critters. I have many opinions about everything from the best quality foods to alternative pet medicine to behavior modification techniques.
And I guess that is why this blog happened. W is pretty clear about why he wants a kid and, quite frankly, his feelings about having kids are pretty normative…meaning, he wants a kid for the reasons many people want children. He loves kids. He loves babies. When he imagines his future, he imagines a family that includes children. He has a strong desire to be a parent. When we decided to go down this path, he ran out and got as many books on kid-making from a LGBT perspective he could find. In that process, we found there are pretty much only books for lesbian and gay parents. That was disappointing and it meant switching things up a bit in his head while reading those books (which he devoured faster than I’ve ever seen him read…anything…W is not much of a reader), but W could still read those books and find himself and his feelings reflected in them.
(The books he consulted were The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians: How to Stay Sane and Care for Yourself from Pre-Conception through Birth by Rachel Pepperand Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-Biological Lesbian Moms Tell All by Harlyn Aizley, in case you’re wondering.)
W also bought me a book after we had this discussion. It was Jessica Valenti’s Why Have Kids: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness. The fact that W got this book was for me was pretty insightful. It made me even more sure that we could do this together, because he gets it, where my hesitance comes from, and validates that my concerns are real. It was the perfect book for me at that moment, especially considering that Valenti’s argument was essentially that “mommy myths” are bullshit. She took on classism in breastfeeding politics, forced or coerced c-sections, the “having it all” debate, and feminist parenting. There were many parts that resonated for me. If you are a person who is interested in kids, but tired of the gender crap that comes with being a “mom,” this book is great. However, while I enjoyed the feminist take on parenting, the book was pretty heteronormative. Discussions about gender norms are often heteronormative and really only spoke to cis women as mothers.
As we continued on this path of learning and discussing and coming up with a plan to add a boobaloo to our family, I, especially, felt a big lack of community. A good number of my friends have kids. I know I could call on them for kid talk and kid advice. I’m sure I will. Many of my friends are queer and those that aren’t are obviously allies, but I didn’t know how to introduce the conversations I really needed to have, about negotiating the place between radical queer politics and culturally normative families–like us, this middle-class, queer married, monogamous, house-owning couple planning for a baby. I didn’t know how to talk about this stuff with our real-life friends without making it weird.
We also have radically queer friends who are probably kind-of a little weirded out by us having a kid. Or, rather, that is something they just totally can not identify with. I get that. I was there. I’m not going to barf my privilege all over them by making them work through my baby stuff with me.
Finally, we have childfree friends, who I strongly identify with. I know they would talk about it with me, but I also totally get why they are childfree and I enjoy talking about other things with them, like life, work, politics, music, etc. I felt weird approaching them with my baby-having issues.
So this blog happened. It’s been amazing. Friends who are we don’t really talk much about queer stuff with have reached out about their identities and experiences as queer parents. Acquaintances from our local queer and trans* communities have told us that they have also been trying and/or have been navigating some of these same issues as hopeful parents-to-be. Strangers from all over the place have commented or messaged us with their own stories. We’ve gotten a lot of support from friends all around and found other bloggers to follow and learn from. It’s all been really, really great.
So thank you for reading and for all the messages of support. We didn’t really know what this blog would look like when we started. We toyed with the idea of pitching a book, instead. But I’m so glad we created this blog. Looking back, what I really needed, more than anything, was affirmation that I could be queer and be a mother, be a feminist and be a mother, be an activist and a busy professional and still a parent. Thank you all for helping me process my feels, for making me feel even more confident about this decision. I’m ready and I’m excited and I know we’ve got this and it’s all because of ya’ll.
Hey! Just wanted to add if you’re looking for an awesome non-gendered non-anynormative book for kids explaining pregnancy I highly recommend what makes a baby by Corey silverberg
Thanks! We’ll look into that. We’re putting together a post about gender-inclusive kids books, actually, so perfect timing!
They have this book at the library in Brighton, we got it out for the kids when we decided to have a baby.
Your personal review?
I think it was a good concept, and while it was great that the kids could see the biology of how reproduction works without the trappings of gender, I don’t think it helped them understand as much as the other books did. It was not quite lifelike enough, and the kids had trouble making a connection with the uterus inside the marshmallow-looking person and the uterus inside their mom. MDL said it was too conceptual for young kids.
🙂 We love you! And I very much enjoy reading this blog. It gives me a whole other insight into everything.
Mutual love! 🙂
Thanks so much for this. My partner and I are working on this and have a lot of the same feelings/issues/concerns that you bring up.