Dana Rudolph is the founder of Mombian, a website dedicated to lesbian moms that she founded in 2005.
I’ve been invited to share a message about Mother’s Day with the dads at Gays With Kids. While I can’t speak for all of the mothers out there, or even just other lesbian moms like myself, I can offer a few of my own perspectives on the holiday and on parenting and gender.
First, if you feel like celebrating Mother’s Day with the moms, please do. If your gender identity inclines you to feel more like a mother, or if your parental role feels more like that traditionally assigned to mothers, then by all means embrace the day for yourself if that’s what you want. If you’d rather celebrate it as a “Papa’s Day,” while keeping “Father’s Day/Daddy’s Day” in June (substituting your parental titles as appropriate), by all means do that, too. I’m more than happy to share the holiday--there are flowers and cake enough for everyone.
Please also know that however you may celebrate (or not) on this day, that this lesbian mom appreciates having role models for her son that include men who are gay, straight, and bi, cisgender, transgender, and otherwise queer. There are many ways to be a man, just as there are many ways to be a woman or to be nonbinary, and I’m happy that my son, now almost grown, has encountered a variety of them. It’s not that my spouse and I couldn’t teach him to do traditionally “manly” things, like catch a football, swing a hammer, or throw a punch (or date a woman, for that matter)--we could, and neither of us is even that butch. Gender roles and activities are happily blurred in much of today’s world.
Nevertheless, I have long agitated for greater representation of LGBTQ people and families in children’s books and media, because I do believe there is something important about seeing someone like oneself reflected in the world. The same goes for gender representation. It may be that my spouse and I tell our son something, but it doesn’t resonate for him until he hears it from someone who is the same gender as he. One could probably say the same about representation in terms of race/ethnicity, or physical ability, or many more aspects of identity. I don’t know exactly what it will mean to my son to have male role models (as opposed simply to positive adult role models of any gender), but in case they help him better envision himself as he grows into who he is, I want him to have them.
It’s important, too, I believe, for children of all genders to have role models of people who are of different genders than they are, so that they learn to interact with and respect people of all types. That’s important for enabling them to live in today’s world, and to support any possible children of their own, whose genders are yet unknown.
Do our children need dads? No. Two-mom and single-mom families have been shown through decades of social science research to raise children who are as well-adjusted as any others. The same could be said about dad-only families. Children don’t need parents of any particular gender--they just need ones who love and care for them. But children do need to see themselves in the world, and sometimes gender is part of their vision. Many of us moms do have male role models right in our own families (bisexual or transgender moms parenting with men; moms co-parenting with children’s biological fathers; plus our own dads, brothers, and other male relatives, among others), but additional ones can only increase our children’s understanding. Many of our children will become men; some will marry or raise one. It is important for them to see the possibilities.
On this Mother’s Day, then, please know that even if you’re not raising a child with a mom, you are important to many mothers in this world (and not only your own, if you have one). Your example of being a dad--or simply a man--is something that many of us moms value. You show our children what dads and men can do and be--and very often, queer men expand those possibilities in different ways from straight, cisgender ones. And I also appreciate how nonbinary parents, no matter the parental title, offer yet another example of how to be as a parent and a person. I’m grateful to you all.
Not all families can fit their celebrations neatly into Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, though, which is one of the reasons I hold my annual #LGBTQFamiliesDay on the first weekday of June. Not only is it the start of Pride Month, but it sits roughly midway between the two holidays—honoring both, but reminding us that not all families fit into those neat categories. I hope you’ll join me on June 1 for the event’s 16th year. Simply post, tweet, or share with the hashtag #LGBTQFamiliesDay in celebration and support of our families. Optionally, you may also visit mombian.com/lgbtqfamiliesday and submit a link to one of your posts for inclusion in a master list of #LGBTQFamiliesDay stories.
However you celebrate this season of parenting holidays, may you make it your own and may it be filled with love and joy.