For a long time I was part of a two-mom family. My spouse and I did a lot work on on sharing the role of mother, work that I still find important, and work that we found surprisingly subversive — as Ezekiel wrote in an old post, “Central to the meaning of ‘mother’ is the idea of ‘one.'” Indeed, our work on sharing the role of mom was part of why we decided to start this blog in the first place.
So it is with some amount of embarrassment and surprise that I tell you I now love being the only mom in my family. This mother’s day was all about me, me, and me. When my kids talk about their mom, I know they’re talking about me. They can tell me that I’m the “best mom ever” (see the badges my daughter made for me above) and I don’t have to worry even a tiny bit about what their other parent thinks.
Honestly, this enjoyment of being the mom is part of a larger enjoyment I take in my newfound heterosexual privilege. I have written before about my uneasiness with being in a relationship that may look heterosexual, but I also enjoy the ease of hetero parenting. When I meet new parents, I just say, “I’m Leigh and Ira’s mom.” I don’t have to explain that I’m one of their two moms, or feel guilty that I’m not mentioning another mom. I don’t wonder about when I should explain my family — I don’t have to explain anything because my family is like so many other families, which means people get it without explanation. When I fill out forms for camp, my family fits them easily. When I mention my husband to new acquaintances, they never look confused.
It’s true that accepting these easy moments erases much of my parenting life. I talk about the challenges of Ira’s birth without actually mentioning that I wasn’t the one in labor. I feel the weight of unthinking assumption from other parents that my husband and I are both genetically related to our children. Of course, for now, all of this is also balanced with the fact that at this point in Ezekiel’s transition, when we are all together we do often confuse people — we’re often read as a lesbian-headed family, or sometimes people think that I am a mom with a teenager and two young children (which disconcerting in it’s own way). But in the moments when we pass, I feel at once easily accepted and completely invisible in my queerness, in my non-gestational parenthood, and in my family’s method of becoming a family.
These moments also remind me that two-mom families, two-dad families, single-parent families, and multiple-parent (i.e. >2) families never get those moments of easy recognition. My time in a two-mom family taught me a lot about parenting, gender roles, and the creation of family. I don’t lose that knowledge now, and when interacting with other parents, I do my best not to assume things about gender, family creation methods, parenting roles, genetic relationships, and who can be part of a family. In the previous incarnation of our family, I learned well how to share parenting with another mom, and I feel privileged now to put that knowledge into practice as I share parenting with a dad.