Parenthood is not your everyday challenge to be simply dubbed as “difficult”. Parenthood is a constant worry paired with self-doubt which is kind of difficult. It’s everything from being sleep-deprived, insecure about your choices, uncertain about the future, constantly discovering ways your little one could get hurt or be hurt by others, and all the way to the indescribable joy of bringing up another living, breathing creature. You do your best not to become another helicopter parent, and you strive to balance your roles in life to make your partner happy and to be there for your kids.
But what about being queer and being a parent all in one go? Now that is a special kind of difficult. Being excluded, judged, stared at–these are some of the most common situations and unpleasantries queer moms face every day from the very communities that are supposed to support them. Some truths hurt, but some are best learned early on in the process so that you can adapt and overcome, and find your place in this colorful world of ours – despite how hard people around you try to prevent that, because you and your kids deserve to live your truth.
You are a family – even without a dad in the picture
The traditional, oversold idea of what a family unit is supposed to look like has made it nearly impossible for queer families to be accepted as equally normal and healthy in their communities. No matter where you live, whether it’s the most progressive neighborhood of Amsterdam or the most conservative nook of Texas, your family is precisely that: a family. And you are a mom, whether you’re a biological parent to your kid, or you’ve adopted a child, or you’ve had a surrogate.
Yes, even if you’re a single queer mom, you’re still a family and deserve to be treated as such. That might not always be the case since we’re surrounded with judgmental, narrow-minded people with misguided beliefs and convictions, but you should do your darn best to persevere in maintaining your own belief that you are a family. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
People will be people
Heteronormative societies still treat straight moms poorly, single and married alike. They often get yelled at for breastfeeding in public, they put up with incessant eye-rolls when their kids cry in a restaurant (even if it’s family-friendly), and so much more. Add some queer into the mix, and you have yourself a party of a lifetime. The looks and the comments aside, it’s the inner feeling of being constantly watched and judged that is the absolute worst. You catch yourself making decisions you would never make, such as feeding your baby only at home, to avoid comments and the eye-rolls.
All reasonable enough. However, you should also build your confidence one day at a time to feel free to be yourself, to wear what makes you feel comfortable, to spend time where you feel good. As a mom, you’ll need to use nursing bras so that you can feed your baby when it’s time, wherever that may be. Feeding your baby while your partner shares the moment with you should be your own source of bliss, and it’s up to you to find your comfort zone. You might not be able to prevent or change the comments, but you can certainly change your mindset towards them. Plus, sometimes you will come across someone who will smile warmly at the image of you feeding your little one, and that encounter will make all the difference.
The fight goes on
Even though we have made great strides legally speaking, and we’ve managed to “earn” certain levels of inclusion that should have been perfectly normal eons ago, you will quickly realize that suddenly becoming a gay mom comes with its own battles that have yet to be won. Having non-queer friends means you’ll find yourself in a position to educate others, show them that you do belong and that their kids can invite your kids to their birthday parties. Meeting new people in parent-teacher conferences, school plays, and other gatherings will put you in a position to see how the fabric of the society still hasn’t changed enough.
Discrimination might not always be outspoken or obvious, but when you feel excluded and avoided, that’s a reason enough for you to stand up for yourself and your kids. And there will be plenty of opportunities to do just that. Don’t ignore them. Embrace them. It’s your chance to be a role model for your kids, to show them that they should always stand up for themselves and that you are doing your best to leave a better world for them to live in. That’s what every parent does, not just the queer mom, or the single gay dad, or anyone else that doesn’t fit the heteronormative, mind-bogglingly limited idea of parenthood.
While being a queer mom does come with its struggles, more than enough of them in fact, the rewards are infinitely more relevant in the process of deciding to become a parent. As they say, keep your eyes on the prize, love your new role as a mom, celebrate it with all of your might, and don’t give up when faced with a challenge – your kids will someday be very grateful for everything that you’re doing, and so will every other mom out there.
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