Gretchen’s response: is my family “just like” other families?

Every week or so, one of us will post a new question related to parenting, gender, and being gay, and then each blog a response, not to exceed 500 words. If you’re a blogger and have something to say on the topic, we’d love for you to play along. You can post your answer on your blog and then link to it in the comments of the original question post.

Here’s this week’s question:

We often hear gay families say they’re “just like” other families. Is this true for you? How? And how are you not just like straight families?

As a woman who got pregnant, gave birth to, and breastfed her two children, to the outside world I’m almost certainly perceived as any other mom. Even when I’m out with Jill, whether people think we’re relatives, friends, or a couple, we’re just two white women with two white kids and we draw no red flags around this liberal collage town.

There are the obvious, boring similarities between our family and any family with young kids (we have seen poop in places we wish we hadn’t; we find bribery an effective parenting tool), and because no one really gives us a second glance in our day-to-day world, in a lot of ways I am “just like” other families in our neighborhood. We blend.

But then, hold up! There’s one big reason why I’m not like straight families at all. I’m not straight!

To me, it’s a wee bit like asking a woman if she’s just like other men. Sure, we’re both human beings; we sneeze when we get colds; our breath stinks in the morning. But we’re different. Being gay makes you different.

Starting with the very way we made our family. Gay couples, we’re infertile. For Jill and me this meant a huge monthly credit card statement, long, difficult discussions, and an endless array of enormous decisions (about sperm, wombs, the very methods we’d use to make an egg meet sperm). At the end of the day, one of us is biologically related to our kids; the other is not. Regardless of whether or how this impacts us, it’s a family dynamic different than most.

Then, we’re treated differently. It starts at the very top with the people who govern our country, state, and municipalities and it trickles though often well-intentioned but thoughtless private establishments like our daycare. I have crossed out “father” on many-a-form field above which I wrote my name.

Our conversations as a family are different, too. We talk about “different kinds of families” whenever we have the chance. I like to think I’d do this even if I were straight, but when you’re gay, you sort of have to. And as our boys get older, the conversation will evolve. Maybe differences between our families and straight families will become bigger and more evident or maybe they’ll fade away.

I like to think the kids we’re raising are different too. Someday our boys will be men, most likely straight, and certainly white. But they will have a minority insight.

On the other hand, here I am struggling to finish this post so I can get a shower before Gus wakes from his nap, so we can head out to buy gas and diapers, pick up Otto, and figure out dinner after which Jill and I will clean the kitchen, bathe two kids, feed Gus, run around getting Otto every goddamn thing he needs before he’ll consider closing his eyes for the night, walk the dog, pour a drink, watch Project Runway, and go to bed.

Not so unlike the straight moms around here. Except for the part about writing the blog about my queer family.


1 thought on “Gretchen’s response: is my family “just like” other families?

  1. Pingback: Gender, parenting, and being gay: recap of question 1 | Regular Midwesterners

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