I’m often struck by the similarities of my childhood and my future child’s childhood. I was homeschooled; I will very likely homeschool. I had non-biologically related aunts and uncles, and my little one undoubtedly will too. But those are within my control — I can make sure those experiences are passed down.
The biggest similarity is one thrust upon us: neither of us will know what on earth it feels like to have a mom and a dad. That traditional American model — mom, dad, two kids, one dog — is as foreign to me as it will be to her, the daughter I want soon. But I believe she’ll have the better reason for skipping out on Americana.
I was flipping through old birthday cards earlier, in an attempt to procrastinate the real housework of dishes and laundry. I found some of my girlfriend’s birthday cards from last August, and opened one that was signed, “Love, Mom and Dad.” That wasn’t a revelation to me by any means: I’ve met both her father and mother multiple times. It just hit me how odd that phrase sounds — “Mom and Dad.”
I’ve never had a card signed like that. My parents were only together till I was 2, and I don’t have any of my first or second birthday cards. My cards were always dad-and-stepmom’s-name or mom-and-stepdad’s-name, or, more recently, for reasons I don’t fully understand, single names on three or four separate cards.
As I spent a moment mourning my poor child-of-divorce loss, it occurred to me that my children also will not have cards from “Mom and Dad.” They will read, “All our love, Mommy and Momma,” or whatever other terms we decide to go with. That sounds just as loving to me as the mother and father signature… I think. I’m still getting used to the idea that all the heteronormative facets of my upbringing and daily life are going to be turned on their heads. I haven’t quite gotten used to the reality that I’ll probably spend years crossing out “Father” on forms, writing in “Parent,” and filling in my name or my girlfriend’s.
The other night as I tried to fall asleep, I thought about my parents’ divorce and whether it had any impact on my eventual LGBT identity (things like this are why I avoid going to bed). I hesitate to say it did, lest I get trapped in a causation-correlation argument, but there is one part that I keep wondering about. Not only did I never have “mom and dad,” but the families I knew with that arrangement were generally not very great. In short, my life has always been lacking in heterosexual couple role models, starting with my own parents in my toddlerhood. Their second marriages have lasted, but still never provided me with an “I want that” envy.
Was it possible that my subconscious translated that into finding a girl to spend my life with? I certainly wasn’t actively looking — my girlfriend and I were straight, conservative best friends for years before we realized there was a heck of a lot more under the surface. Perhaps I was doomed from a young age to not be part of a “Mom and Dad” pair. Starting with my parents, and extending into their friends and my relatives, “Mom and Dad” generally didn’t stay together. If they did, they never seemed excited about that fact.
So I find myself, three and a half weeks away from marrying my girlfriend, facing another lifetime without “Mom and Dad.” But this time, it’s because of “too much” love, not a lack of it. She and I couldn’t imagine not being together, and we couldn’t imagine not bringing a child or two into the world to enjoy it with us. Those kids won’t have a mom and dad either. Instead, they’ll have two devoted, committed, loving parents. I’d take that any day.