Family Friday: why do I want children part 2

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Last Friday my copy of The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth by Stephanie Brill arrived. As wife was volunteering at a concert for the orchestra, I spent the evening curled up on the couch, belly filled with the most amazing salmon teriyaki, and reading.

Honestly, I did not know what to expect with this book. However, I did not expect that I would be crying 100 pages into it.

I’ve previously written about why I wanted to have children. I’ve also said that it’s very important to me to be able to articulate why I want children.

Yet I’ve never stepped back and asked why it was so important to be able to explain it.

Until I read this passage:

“When a person has internalized society’s homophobia, self doubts can take on a life of their own, carrying an emotional charge that is sometimes difficult to recognise and understand.

Often queer and single-parents-to-be feel they must be perfect before they parent, not only to provide the best for their children but also to prove to everyone who may wonder whether we can be excellent parents.”

I realized that I wanted to be able to justify my decision to be a mother to the friends, family and strangers who would not understand or accept us as a family.

Unfortunately I am not sure how I should proceed with this knowledge. Initially, I was very optimistic. I don’t need to justify our family to other people! I don’t care what other people think about our family! I don’t need to be perfect in order to parent! I don’t need to prove that lesbians can be excellent parents!

Then I realized that people are going to be watching our parenting styles and skills. People will attribute our failures (and perhaps our successes) to our lesbianism. That having a family is a form of activism. Even if I don’t want it to be.

So will I explain our reasons for wanting children to complete strangers? What will I say to them? How will we manage to be model lesbian parents without burning out?

Once again I find myself with more questions than answers. However, I do feel at peace this time.

“Queer families started from scratch are intentional families. That means our children are wanted children, children brought into this world from the great love we have to share with them. Anytime you are confronted with internal doubt or external questioning about whether or not you have the right to parent, remember that your child is a much planned, deeply loved and wanted child. That is the greatest gift that anyone can give to their child.”

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6 responses »

  1. That last quote gave me goosebumps!

    I love that you’re thinking through the “whys” of having children. I think it’s so easy for people to fall into society’s checklist: partner, house, baby–CHECK!

    Granted, I want each of those things. But I think it’s important to put each thing under the microscope and ask, “Why?” “Is that the real why or just the why that others expect me to say?” “What are the benefits?” “At what cost?” “When is the right time for me?”

    I love the use of the word “intentional” in the quote. That’s exactly it. The more we live our lives with intention, the better the world will be.

    Thanks for sharing all of this with us!

    • Thanks for commenting! The New Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Planning (where the quote comes from) is an excellent book so far!

      I think that it is important to put our thoughts and feelings concerning families under a microscope. There are so many more ways to exist as a family than simply Man+ Woman + House + Child! I would love, for example, to have some of our friends become aunties and uncles and brothers and sisters to our children. I think choosing people who will have an amazing impact on their lives and asking them to become family is a natural extension to my intentional family. Other people can’t think of anything more horrifying (which is fine too).

      So certainly I am going to continue to interrogate my feelings and thoughts on the subject. Despite my annoyance that my feelings are complicated by pervasive heterosexism and homophobia.

  2. I just found your blog and am so glad that I did! This post really resonates with me. Thank you so much for sharing this. Looking forward to reading what else you have to say 🙂

  3. I wish everyone, of any sexual orientation, would approach having children with such seriousness and forethought! I do not wish to have children personally, and people consistently ask why, and I am expected to explain my choice. But how many people ask why ARE you having children, and how many parents have a good answer for that – other than, it’s just what you do? Or the canned, “they’re so rewarding”. That may be, but not necessarily for everyone. Thank you for sharing your perspective! I think the world would be a much better place if everyone truly considered this before having a child!

    • Thank you for commenting! I’m sorry that people don’t respect your decision to not have children. I think that we need to spend less time talking about why people make their life choices and more time supporting them.

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