By: Kellen Kaiser
I was raised by lesbians. Yeah, but nowadays, who wasn’t? Even if I’m a little older than most, having been born in 1981, my situation becomes more common by the day. So the more remarkable thing seems to be their sheer number. When I tell people I have four moms, the common reaction, outside of raised eyebrows, is an attempt to figure it out. Two moms who got divorced and remarried is the most often given wager. Nope. Reasonable but wrong and interesting to me in the sense that it shows how pervasive the nuclear model is. We apply it instantly even to lesbians.
When I tell them an original three chose to parent together and then a fourth married in, I still can’t be sure they understand it. There is often an assumption applied that the three were all sexually involved, a threesome of motherhood which exposes another internalized belief about family, that those who parent together sleep together. In my case my biological mother, one Nina Kaiser, chose to parent with her lover and best friend. Three ladies, one baby. While the romantic relationship between the two ladies, Nina and Margery, didn’t last, the parenting paradigm did, a lesson that could certainly be followed in straight circles better. Eventually my bio-mom married another woman, Kyree, which then made four. That’s a lot of mothers! But there were mostly advantages to having extra parents.
More hands to hold me, more bosoms to hug. More parents to read my blog.
As a child, I didn’t get away with much (too many eyes watching over me), but I did occasionally manage to pit them against each other. I developed a technique in which I’d ask all four, one at a time, for whatever I wanted. I had four possible yes’s which I’d try for in succession until I’d heard four no’s.
Even now, when I have a dilemma, I have four numbers to dial, calling each one until I get an answer, or the advice I was looking for. The phrase it takes a village applies here. I have inherited personality quirks from each of them. As I grow older there will be four aging women to care for, two extra parents to some day grieve, but all in all I feel like I make off like a bandit.
The nuclear family model is so ingrained in our culture. My parents’ multiplicity has allowed me to question that dynamic. I have given thought to who I want to parent with, whether that is my sexual partner (whoever that may be in any given moment) or my friends. I have enough gay community that if I chose co-parenting in that vein it could be a reality. It’s a huge commitment being a parent. Especially if you aren’t biologically obligated and I am eternally grateful that the three women outside of my bio-mom cared enough about me to do so, and to continue to show up as the years go by. Love makes a family but that also in some ways defines it as a voluntary position.
Do we choose our families? We do and we don’t. We certainly choose our level of attachment
to them. We can choose to embrace those we weren’t born related to in the fashion of those we were, making the word form to our own definition. In the gay community the word “family” can be fraught, laden with the intolerance and rejection people have faced in their past, but it is also the holy grail of acceptance -a sense of no longer being alone. We are family! The disco song blares, an anthem of confidence and hope both. We make our families and they make us. 99.9% of the time I feel like I won the lottery, family-wise. The Robber Baron of Moms. I have four of the best parents on earth. So many people don’t get a single good one and I got a quartet. It seems unfair, really. The .01% of the time is when I’m thinking what man in his right mind would sign on for four mothers in law?!
Doubt that really evens it out though. More mommies, more problems? Nope.
Love you Moms!