Raising a Blended Family

Being a Gay Family

on August 16, 2011

Well, I’m following these ladies’ lead, who are following the lead of Josh and Gretchen over at this new blog (new to me), Regular Midwesterners.

They’ve started a weekly writing prompt about the experiences of gay parenting, and when I saw the first prompt I knew I had to hop on the bandwagon.

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?”

Shorty and I say this to each other all the time. ALL THE TIME. all the time.  Okay, fine, maybe not all the time.. we take time off for sleeping, for example… but seriously, anytime a convo comes up about gay marriage rights or heterosexual assumptions or that asshole who gave us a dirty look… we turn to each other an reiterate how we’re no different than any other couple/family and we’re just trying to live our lives in peace, thankyouverymuch.  On second thought, it’s probably good that no one over the age of six is around to hear us discuss this too often, or we might be accused of trying too hard. Eh.

But seriously, folks.  It doesn’t get much more “average” than this.  We are very “mainstream” folks… we live in a typical midwestern suburban neighborhood.  Our kid rides the bus to school, comes home and does her homework.  We have soccer practices and Karate practices and BBQs at the park and picnics and family movie nights.  We have arguments and Serious Discussions, and we have make-ups and oh-I’m-sorries.  We forget to take the trash out on trash night, or (more often) forget to retrieve our garbage bins from the curb at the conclusion of trash day.  Yeah, we might be a little bit more on the “crunchy” side than most people in our neighborhood or friends circle.  We may or may not have a 5 gallon tub of homemade laundry detergent sitting downstairs on our dryer.  We have every intention of cloth-diapering our next child. We recycle (believe me, in this neighborhood, that counts as crunchy).  But I really believe that, in general, we could totally be models of the American Nuclear Family… if the ANF included two moms who both work and share the cooking and cleaning responsibilities. Ah, well.

How are we NOT like straight families?  I would have to say the one thing, above all else, that sticks out to me is awareness.  By necessity, we are more aware than our straight friends and families.  Aware of what it is like to be perceived as different, even if that difference is only gender-deep.  Aware of  the terminology our child’s teacher uses when she sends classwork to parental figures from school (the phrase most often heard? “Send this home to mom and dad, have them sign it, and bring it back.” UGH. It even appears on newsletters that come home!).  We are more aware of who might be saying what to our daughter to make her feel bad about the way our family is structured.  More aware of how and when and in what states we are allowed to marry.  Aware of the difficulties we may face when trying to conceive- or aware of the conception process at all. We will never have the experience of peeing on a stick and having it be a surprise pregnancy (not unless the other partner has a LOT of explaining to do!).  And that’s okay, I’m not mourning that experience… but we are, by necessity, more aware of ALL of these things than “straight” parents.  And to me, that’s one major way we’re different.  It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

Overall though, please don’t count us as different.  Please continue inviting us to participate in community garage sales, bake-offs, BBQs, and barn parties.  Let our child make friends with your child- homosexuality is not catching, we promise.  Come hang out and spend an afternoon in the pool.  Relax.  It’s okay, we’re normal.


3 responses to “Being a Gay Family

  1. Josh says:

    Thanks so much for posting a response. I like your point about having awareness–it captures something I couldn’t quite capture about what how our family’s experience seems different than many other “average” families.

  2. Gretchen says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, and totally agree about the awareness aspect. You say this difference “is not a bad thing, it just is.” I would argue that it’s a really, really good thing.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about what you have to say.

  3. […] the responses so far: Josh Gretchen lezbemoms The Middle of Everything First Time Second […]

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