In our extended family, in our social circle, in our neighborhood and at our daughter’s daycare, there are families with two dads, two moms, one mom and, yes, even a mom and a dad. But, from our kids’ perspective, I think a mom-and-dad family wouldn't even seem like the norm.
They each know that there was a woman who gave birth to him and one to her but neither could take care of them. (My partner likes to avoid the expression "tummy mommy," because it still contains the word "mommy".) They have both had a daddy and a papa since nine months of age, so they don't know any differently. It’s just the way it is.
Mother’s Day is approaching, a great day to acknowledge all the mothers out there, including all the birth mothers, surrogate mothers, foster mothers, egg donors and co-parenting mothers who are helping a community of gay dads create families and raise children.
Yet with Mother’s Day come the advertisements and promotions for buying something for the most special person in your life. “Celebrate your mother… Show your mother you care… Treat your mother…” My son is just starting to read and I fear he’ll read these messages and feel lessened or deprived because he doesn't have a mother.
I especially don't want my kids to hear, "Where's your mother?" or be faced with being asked, explicitly or implicitly, "Doesn't every child need a mother?" For what does that mean exactly? That every child needs a caring and nurturing parent and it has to be a woman? It also implies that men might be dads, but they can't be fully responsible, for too often we see images in the media of the bumbling dad haplessly trying to get by until mom comes to save him.
Our children will have to explore and negotiate their own feelings towards their birth parents as they grow up. We've been told many times about the separation that adopted kids may experience, about possible feelings of abandonment, loss and grief. How much more difficult is that when society presents mothers as natural and wonderful caregivers –- then why not their birth mothers? Unfortunately, "mother" is a loaded term, and it seems we're all just beginning to rethink what it actually means.
Above all, I've realized how protective I feel towards my children - what could be a more natural, maternal parental instinct than that?