Today is Mother's Day. And for many reasons, today feels different. Today is the day that I decided to scatter my mother's ashes... she passed away over a year ago. Today is my first Mother's Day in my new(er) house... without my daughter, who is at her other parent's house. And today is the first Mother's Day where my life is the topic of a national conversation on equality.
I am a mom, who is parenting an amazing, brilliant little girl with another mom (get the title now?). And this is my story of that journey into and through motherhood.
My partner and I had been together for about five or six years when we seriously began to have the conversation about having children. The plan was simple. She would have a child, and then a couple of years later, so would I. It does sound so simple, right? Seems like the natural progression of things... committed relationship, stable jobs, start a family...
And we jumped in with both feet. Began exploring donors, and setting up appointments with doctors, and... well, just dove. It was all very exciting...a time filled with possibilities and happiness.
The simplicity wore off, and was replaced by just plain hard. Really hard. Infertility treatments, multiple miscarriages, surgeries, and finally (three years later) the realization that my partner had no problem getting pregnant, she just was finding a pregnancy difficult to maintain. Without much conversation (a decision that we both will always regret), we decided that she would stop trying and I would begin to try to conceive. And I eventually did... and we had our daughter.
From a lesbian parenting perspective, we did everything "right" prior to her arrival. We signed medical and financial powers of attorney, ensured that our beneficiaries were each other, co-owned property, and even petitioned a judge to have each of our names listed on our daughter's birth certificate. We anointed ourselves "mommy" (that's me) and "mama," read (okay, skimmed) parenting books, and had spectacular baby showers thrown by amazing friends. We had discussions about the importance of speaking Spanish in the home, (mostly) organic foods, having male influences in her life, and the roles of our respective biological families. It was decided that I would stay home for at least three months, and then we would have a nanny until she went to kindergarten when she was five.
And, in retrospect, I still think that we mostly held true to our intentions. Our little girl will be entering first grade next year. Mama speaks as much Spanish to her as possible. We have wonderfully supportive friends (both male and female... gay and straight). She spends as much time as practical with both sides of the family. She is a happy, healthy, smart little girl with a great sense of humor, dance moves to envy, and good friends embroiled in lots of five-year-old drama. She is the center of our lives and neither mama nor I would change any of the joy that she has brought into our lives.
But there was lots that we didn't talk about as we prepared for, and embarked on this journey of parenting. We didn't talk about the still present grief over my partner's original attempts at becoming pregnant. We didn't' talk about what our roles would be as parents (in heterosexual relationships, that part is generally assumed). We didn't talk about co-sleeping, or the length of breastfeeding, or weather or not to use the whole cry-it-out method. We didn't have a back up plan when the first nanny decided to go back to school (followed by the second who did the same, followed by the third who got pregnant). We didn't talk about the impact of losing and changing jobs, or losing parents, or just the plain old boring duties of maintaining a household.
But mostly, we didn't talk about the people that we were and who we were becoming in these new roles as parents... as mothers... and as partners.
And in the end, those things that we didn't talk about were those things that eventually (and very sadly) broke us up. We are good people, and good parents, and we will always love each other. And we will always do what is best for our daughter. But now we have shared nights and weekends, and separate houses, and parenting agreements. And now life is just more complicated as each of us figures out how to move forward... as parents... as mothers.
It's really just that simple, isn't it? Relationships begin with wonderful dreams and good intentions... dreams of good careers and great friends... dreams of growing old with the one person that you love... dreams of raising a family. And sometimes life works out in just that way. And sometimes it doesn't.
And as the nation and my state watches and speculates and judges about what it means to be a family, and who it's okay to love, I can't help but wonder... all things being equal... is my journey really so different?
Happy Mother's Day.