We’re not so different… are we?

I don’t really write about the fact that we are a different family. Same-sex, lesbian, gay… whatever label you want to give us doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day we really are just another normal family. Ninety percent of the time I’m not even aware of the fact that we are “other” however since the boys have been born it has become more and more obvious.

A friend of ours, who is also a married lesbian with twin boys, made an observation: Having children outs you on a daily basis. You have no choice in who you want to share this information with anymore.

It doesn’t matter where you are or with whom you’re speaking, if they make an assumption about the kids “father” you have to correct them. Why you ask? Well there are a couple reasons:

Firstly I don’t want my boys to ever think that our family is less than or that the fact that they have two moms is something to be ashamed of. We have to be so careful of the unspoken signals that we send our boys in what we allow to be left unsaid or unacknowledged. This means that if the cashier at the local Spar asks about their father I have to correct them, the plumber who comes into our house will see our family photos on the walls, their school and teachers need to be coached on how to deal with sensitive issues like what to do on father’s day and bullying.

Secondly it is also important to normalise same-sex relationships in the greater community. I often say it is easy to hate what you don’t know, what is unfamiliar and what is removed from you. Homophobia is very difficult to maintain if you are in constant contact with a normal, well adjusted, happy same sex family especially when you get to know them. It is our job to make the future better for our kids by bearing the brunt of some of the social stigma associated with homosexuality so that by the time our kids are older they will be able to look back and laugh at how backwards society was. I think this might also be a bit of my idealism showing through because truly each one of us will agree that racism and sexism is wrong and very backward behaviour but unfortunately it is still rampant in our society even after liberation and all the various social reform movements. African Americans still live in largely segregated areas 60 years later, SA has racism and xenophobia bubbling dangerously close to the surface, and lesbians are still raped and murdered in townships across the country (continent even).

It means our sexuality is open to scrutiny and judgement by everyone. Doesn’t it seem silly that what we do in our bedroom is the business of anyone else? How would you feel if your proclivities were laid bare to the public? If you had to admit your perchant for kinky sex to the cashier at Spar, or your fertility issues to the plumber, or your love of sex toys with your kids’ teachers?

I have equal parts of me that are intensely private and outspoken activist. Some days I find it immensely exhausting being constantly vulnerable to people’s disapproving grimaces or discomfort at not knowing how to react.

We are also blessed to have a large and loving support system of family and friends who happily recognise and embrace us, our sons, our relationship and all that it entails. It is a blessing to have a safe place where we can just be without having to be on guard, without being rubbed raw by stigma.

So my question is… are we really so different? Is our family so different from yours?

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17 thoughts on “We’re not so different… are we?

  1. Nope I don’t believe we are any different. We have a blended family and my older kids are coloured – makes for some interesting looks – baby is blonde and blue-eyed and the older 2 are brown with dark hair and eyes. LOL and none of them look like David or I :))

    For me a family is where the love is – be it from a mom and a dad or 2 moms or 1 dad – it is irrelevant as long as the unit is stable, strong and has love!

    • I think so too, and I challenge anyone to try prove that our boys aren’t loved 110%. Every family is unique and people should move beyond stereotypes, it’s so late century!

    • PS one of my very best friends has 7 kids, the oldest 2 boys are adopted, the eldest is coloured and second eldest is black, then their are 2 who are N-mom’s bio kids one boy and one girl who are very fair and from her last marriage, then the are C-mom’s fraternal twins (conceived when she was single via AI) and finally their foster son who is also coloured and the sweetest little thing you ever saw. I think they get more “OMG how do they cope” stares than “how the hell did that work” stares.

  2. Now that you’ve pointed out the above i.e. involuntarily ‘exposing’ your private matters with complete strangers, (teachers *gasp* ), it occurred to me that this didn’t even cross my mind. I personally don’t view your family as different and therefore I didn’t realize how it can affect your daily life. And fathers day- of course it would affect you, I didn’t even think of it.

    If it’s any consolation, I wouldn’t concern myself with your family’s ‘missing dad’ any more than I would a family of 4 daughters and one mother, what ever happened to their father, whether he’s dead or abandoned them has nothing to do with me or anyone else. People are way too nosey, they have no boundaries to their curiosity.

    • Having kids at school has opened a whole new can of worms and luckily our school is very open to dealing with issues sensitively when they come up. I’ll write a post about things that we’ve encountered so far soon. This was supposed to be that post but it went off on an unexpected tangent.

  3. I agree with you, why should what you do in your bedroom be the business of anyone who wasn’t in there with you? All that matters is that your children are happy and safe. Having a supporting family in your corner makes a big difference to any sort of family set-up.

    We’ve had our fair share of father’s day dramas too. The first year when N came home from school with a father’s day gift that she was made to produce I was at first a little bit upset about it, but after speaking to the principal she told me that they let them make it anyway so that they won’t feel left out (in my daughter’s school, despite what one would believe from current stats, I am one of 5 single parents in total. There are 70 children so I would have thought it would be more common really). Kind of makes sense I guess. Luckily my brother is her god father so he gets all the hand made photo frames and key rings and so on – and he happily displays them in his house with great pride. 🙂 She loves visiting there and seeing all her gifts being used.

    • That is exactly what we suggested, that at Father’s day the gifts get made for Oupa or Oom Thomas. Finding ways around it certainly is interesting.

  4. I must say that your post have opened my eyes even a bit more. Our boys attended school up until last year with a lesbian couple’s kids – a girl their age and a boy 18 months younger. A lovely couple that does so much for the school and community in general. C did ask why they have two moms and no dad and we treid to explain best we can in a very simple way – luckily their are many single parent kids so families in general are wider than mom dad and kids for them. With my then 6/7 year old daughter it was a bit more difficult as she knows some of the basics about reproduction. So I just went ahead and did IVF sort of explanation and she seemed fine with it.

    • I’m not sure how to word the explaination either. I’ll think on it a little. There are so many different types of families nowadays but the Mom, Dad, kids family is still the social norm. I think it is a good conversation to have with all kids because that is where the basis of tolerance and celebration of differences is created. Kids can be so mean when another kid doesn’t fit the mould, whether it is due to their parents being divorced, them looking different, unusual family circumstances or whatever. Dealing with issues like these from early on helps prevent bullying of all types later.

  5. I think you are as different as you want to be. You will always have cynics, doubters, bigots, whatever you want to call them, but the world is cvhanging and family life is changing. I dont think there is a typical ‘family’ any more.

    • There are more and more different families and that makes some things easier. You are right, the world is changing.

      We live in a conservative city so things can still be a bit difficult. For example our school has very had a same-sex family with kids in their school before so we really are having to be the groundbreakers.

  6. I never thought of you as ‘different’, although I never thought about the fact that there was a donor involved, as there was with me, and I know that sometimes makes people pause. But I just think of you as a family, so I don’t think of the differences. And sorry – what happens in a bedroom is such a small percentage of a relationship, does it matter at all?

    I was just looking at the post with the boys’ 1st birthday photos and was going to comment that my favourite photos were the ones with all 4 of you, then I saw this post and thought it was great! But the photos of the 4 of you I think I love most as they aren’t so formal, you are all doing your things together and smiley. 🙂

    • Yes Snuva, the how of making a family can be complicated whether you are gay, straight single or whatever. In the end we are a family, a happy family, with two moms and two baby boys who are growing up too fast.

      I love the more natural photos too. Even our wedding photos were like that. I like spontaneity in photos rather than set up and contrived posed photos. If we dont look like that in real life then why would we want a disk of photos like that?

  7. Interesting how kids change the game. I hadn’t thought about it. I know all kinds of couples, gay, straight or in between lol. I’m from a big city though. The town I live in now has made me realize that things like racism and homophobia do very much still exist. It’s been a bit of a shock moving here.

    We have a couple of same sex couples in my family. The younger generation doesn’t bat an eye, but my grandma refuses to acknowledge that the relationship between my uncle and his partner is a romantic one. To her thet are just ‘good friends’. She wouldn’t be able to ignore it had they chosen to raise kids together.

  8. Not any more different than I am from you, or the family next door is etc. What can actually be considered a “standard” or “normal” family. There are so many variations but the I guess the most important is that we all love our kids. That is the “normal” or at least should be.

  9. Hello, I found you via I’m so not a Blogger (she is my sister) and popped over to have a read. I’m past the baby stage, but loved reading all about your gorgeous boys and your story. Wonderful, inspirational read.

    And no, you’re not that different. What is the ‘norm’ these days anyway. What matters is that your boys are growing up in a home where they are loved and doted upon – isn’t that all a child wants?

    i look forward to reading more 🙂

    Btw – my blog is private, but mail me if you’d like an invite. shaynesheardatgmaildotcom

  10. I’ve chatted to you on twitter for a while now and have only just realised that you are in a same sex relationship. Honestly makes no difference to me at all, actually makes me feel a little more comfortable talking to you about crap because I know you have to deal with so much more and have a better tolerance.
    I hate that people have to apologise for who and what they are. I’ve never been in a same sex relationship before as an only parent I do know all about those “father” questions and they are hurtful. You are an amazing person and your boys will grow up to be the kind of men we need more of.

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