Thanksgiving was my adoptive mother's favorite holiday. I think of her often and miss her even as I wish for my other mother, my bio mom, during the holiday season. As a lesbian parent, I imagine my kids will have a similar experience of longing for two mothers; for each profound and each for different reasons. In many ways I'm the "other mother," with my ex-partner as the primary. And I often feel that I miss so much - that I focus on what I don't have much more easily, sometimes, than my blessings as a mom, now again a spouse, and a human being living in an auspicious time for gay rights and gay marriage.
So, in keeping with the holiday, I've thought about some things that I am thankful for - in my personal parenting circumstance and also in our community. What are your experiences this holiday season? What specific gratitudes would you add to this list of things to be thankful for in the same-sex parenting community?
1. First and foremost, despite my struggles as the other mother in many respects, I am so thankful for my wife and her wondrous ability to co-parent. She graciously recognizes the privileges associated with being "primary" and sets them aside so that we can mother together--equally. Thank you.
2. I am so thankful that my children are close by. Long distance other-mothering from states away was narrowly avoided and I am so grateful to those who helped me help them stay close. Thus, even though I don't get to mother as equally as I would like for the kids from that former relationship, I get to see and spend time with them as often as I can. I can be involved in school and daily activities; I can attend events and grab a few hours for important milestones, share time on holidays, and even split Mother's Day....all things that would be impossible if they were further away.
3. I am so thankful that a certain county in Texas had a "loophole" in its policies that allowed me to legally adopt my own son at a time that same-sex families were not universally accepted. I question the fairness of having to adopt one's own child - planned, conceived, and born within a long-term relationship - but such is the case for now. I am glad I was able to secure the legal rights that have been essential in preserving my relationship with my child after the break up with my ex-partner.
4. I am thankful that we, as a community and as a society, are marching steadily toward marriage equality with of all of its rights, privileges and challenges. It will not be easy and I think we are more prepared for marriage than divorce, but that is an issue for another day. I am so grateful that I was able to legally and joyfully marry my wife in Canada--that we are recognized as a married couple federally after the end of DOMA. With each state that recognizes our union, our kids, our family, and our marriage is more secure.
5. Finally, I am thankful for this opportunity to discuss these and other issues via this blog so that you, the reader, can hear, bear witness, listen, challenge, and question the personal and community experiences I share. Together we will wrestle with all that can happen to mothers in lesbian relationships who are sidelined by their lack of biological connection to their children, and hopefully create a better understanding of what it really means to be a parent, period. As a result of our work, I hope that mental health counselors, psychologists, lawyers and judges can learn to help solidify families just like mine and maybe yours always holding the parent/child relationship above all else.
I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday.