This is what our healthy family looks like, our core family that is. It Extends, because that little boy there holding a mask over his head has never ever known what the rest of the country lives like. We are a Pagan community, this means that most of us, with our “coming out of the broom closet,” lost our immediate family — parents and grandparents, possibly uncles and aunts, and if we had grown children, the same with them.
Add to that most of us are gay, bi, or polyamorous. This means, when one of us has a child we have to definitely “redefine family.”
My husband and I are legal clergy for a Pagan organization we co-founded way before our youngest child came into the picture and, though we have three children over 25, we found ourselves raising a baby. At the age of three months, he had a “Wiccaning” not a “Christening” and he has grown up with many god parents, aunts, and uncles, and nanas and grandpoppies. He does not want for love and he hates that he has a whole bunch of people telling him what to do.
This year, when he started public school in a small town we were a bit angsty, but we felt it was important that he learn to live in a world much differently than the one we had pieced together for him. When the teacher in his “before school” conference asked if there was anything she needed to know about him, I almost did not tell her we were Pagan. But I knew his different way of presenting (very fluid in sexuality), and talking about the “Gods” plural, and celebrating holidays they had never heard of would give him away. So, I blurted out “well… besides the fact that he was raised by older parents, he has been raised by a Pagan community since we are both ministers.”
She just stared.
Fortunately, I was assured by the principal that there was no emphasis placed on religion in his public school — which I am sure the Buddhist and Muslim children appreciate in his class also.
Right now I am happy to report this offbeat child is happy and doing well in school, and learning how the other half live. And when his pink-haired mother with tattoos picks him up in the carpool line, no one stares anymore, they just wave.