Growing up, as an LGBTQ person, I often felt that there was no one else like me, going through what I was going through, feeling what I was feeling, and living what I was living. And, while every person obviously does have their own lived experience that is unique to them, it was as I grew into an adult and met more people like me, and read of more people like me, that I realized we could find commonalities across all of our experiences. Whether those commonalities existed in our coming out stories, our journeys to self discovery, or the films or books we were exposed to that awakened us to something that made us different, there was always something that connected us.
Aly and I always talk about that when we meet someone new in our community or we hear about or read someone’s story and we catch similarities to ours. It makes us feel connected to something bigger. It brings us comfort and a feeling that we weren’t really alone.
As soon-to-be new parents, we’re in a whole new community and the stories we read and films we watch do the same thing for us. We watched, “Father of the Bride II” yesterday and so much of it resonated with us. I found myself connecting deeply with the character of George Banks, and some of you that know me well, might laugh and really understand that. Not the “let me dye my hair and join a gym because I’m worried my youth is behind me” part of him, but the self-doubting, protector, who just wants everything to be okay part.
We’re not supposed to take comfort from films because they’re inherently deceptive. They’re constructed and edited to present the best version of themselves by the time they get to us, but I did. I got comfort, and I feel no shame for it because I feel like for a new parent, you need to take it where you can get it.
I was having a conversation with friend a few months ago, soon after Aly and I found out we were pregnant, where she was recalling leaving the hospital with her little girl. She said, “I looked over at my husband once we were all strapped in and I looked in the back seat and suddenly realized that we were parents and there was a baby in the back seat that was ours. Fully ours. Our responsibility. No nurses or doctors would be at home to help us. So, I turned to my husband and said, ‘are they really just going to let us take her? I mean, they know we haven’t done this before, right?’”
At the time, I laughed and in passing, thought, “I’m sure every new parent feels that way.”
It turns out, that’s true, at least for us, and we haven’t even delivered them yet.
Still, thinking about this conversation makes me chuckle and feel like everything will be okay, because we’re not alone and other people have done it before us. People just as naive and just as unsure and just as prepared/unprepared as we will be, have done this before.
It’s no secret that Aly and I, in addition to talking about everything, read anything we can get our hands on that might help us, so that’s what we’ve done since the beginning, and when I say beginning, I mean, before we even found out we were pregnant. We were trying, as best we could, to prepare ourselves for everything, knowing very well that it was impossible. When we found out we were having twins, we joined twin parenting groups and lesbian parenting groups on social media, we’ve been following families that look like ours, and we’ve reach out to those resources when there was a question we just didn’t know how to answer. Things like, “how do other families in the LGBTQ community celebrate Mother’s day?” It turns out we’re in the minority in the way that feels right for us, but understanding how others approach things we’ve never considered, allows us to consider things we, perhaps, otherwise wouldn’t have. I hate to say it, but, “we read, and we know things.”
Our families laugh at us when we talk about this because they think that, we think, we can find answers to raising children in books, blogs, research articles, and social media, when really it’s that we can learn from people who have done this before, perhaps differently from how they did it, that makes more sense for us. So, perhaps, what they call naiveté, we can probably call reverse-engineering parenting research.