We were waiting in line to sign in at our kid’s doctor’s office, my wife with the baby strapped to her in the wrap and me with the huge diaper bag slung over my shoulder. An employee stopped to chat with us, and after remarking on our kid’s truly beautiful eyes (I’m biased, but they are pretty great), he tactfully asked the million-dollar question.
“So which one of you is Mom?”
It’s a question I do not mind answering. Sure, it’s rooted in heteronormative ideas about family, but it’s also not that weird to think a young mom might bring a friend or relative with her on an errand with a baby. I just smiled and said, “Oh, we both are.”
Without missing a beat, the young man looked right at our child and said, “Two moms, wow, lucky guy! I bet you get all the cuddles, huh? I bet you’re totally spoiled!”
Excuse me, spoiled?
We actually get this a lot. I realize that folks are probably trying to say something positive about our family and prove that they’re not homophobic. On the one hand, I appreciate folks wanting to advertise that they’re accepting of my family. On the other hand, the idea that having two moms must mean that my child is spoiled is completely wrong and based on some pretty sexist ideas. You know what I’m talking about — moms are nurturing and soft, whereas dads are less emotionally connected. It’s insulting to pretty much everyone because there are plenty of moms who don’t fit that stereotype and dads who are just as nurturing and loving as any mother.
But just because my kid isn’t spoiled, that doesn’t mean he’s not lucky to have me and his other mother. Here then, are five ways my kid is lucky to have exactly the family he has.
1. He has two parents who are deeply committed to him and each other
Children benefit from stability, reliability and love in their caregivers. And while many parents start out lukewarm on the idea of kids and end up being wonderful parents regardless, I’m extremely glad that my partner and I have always been 100 percent committed. We knew that at least one child was in our future before we married, and we devote ourselves to our family pretty completely. Not every child has that!
2. He won’t grow up assuming all families look just like his
When I was little, I didn’t realize that there were families that weren’t just like mine for a very long time. Kids are generally pretty accepting, but realizing those differences can definitely pull the rug out from under them. But our kid? No way! He’s growing up knowing families of all different shapes and sizes right from the get-go.
3. Kids with two moms might actually have the advantage
According to a 2010 study, many planned children of lesbian parents may have better outcomes than their peers in a wide variety of life areas. I don’t specifically identify with the word “lesbian,” but my family does fit the bill. So it’s entirely possible that having two moms may actually be giving him some advantages!
4. We don’t have rigidly defined parenting roles
Even for progressive parents, it can be so easy to fall into default parenting roles, and those roles are often dictated by what society expects of you. But one way that queer families have a leg up is that we are always making it up as we go along. There’s no cultural or social expectation pushing us into rigid roles, and so we are able to be flexible and play to our strengths. We, and our child, benefit immensely from that.
5. Neither of us grew up expecting that someone else would care for our kid(s)
This one is kind of similar to the idea that women parent one way and men parent another way, but it’s still deeply different.
Because both my wife and I were raised as girls, we grew up expecting that we would play an active role in parenting one day, and our nurturing skills were encouraged. Often times, even men who want to be extremely involved in their children’s lives end up being less involved than their female counterparts. The simple fact is that they find themselves having to fight against a lifetime of socialization and the idea that childcare is “women’s work.” That doesn’t make those dads bad parents, but it is a barrier. We just don’t have to deal with that.
My kid doesn’t have two parents who are constantly mushy and touchy-feely. We’re complex people and our parenting styles vary immensely (I can be warm and nurturing sometimes, and distant and rigid at others!). But our kid is extremely lucky that he has exactly the two parents that he has, and for him, both of his parents are moms.