Interview with Heather Somaini by The Next Family
The Next Family thought it would be fun to begin conducting interviews with our writers to get to know them a bit better. If you have any questions of your own, feel free to ask Heather in the comments section.
TNF: How has it been blogging for TNF for over a year now?
Well, it’s been scary and exciting and somewhat torturous. I never realized how much time and energy it takes to write 500+ words. And I’m rarely happy with what I write.
TNF: What aspect has been scary for you?
Putting everything out there for everyone to see. I have to focus on not thinking about what other people will think about my writing or me or my weird thoughts. Otherwise, I turn into a pool of mush on the floor worrying that everyone will seriously laugh at me.
TNF: Do you feel like you hold back in your blogs for fear of judgment?
Sometimes, but I usually work through it and act like no one is ever going to read it. That makes it easier. The only thing that really holds me back is writing about people in my life right now that could ultimately affect me. So I don’t write about situations that have happened at work or with our kids’ school that I think are really sort of crazy. I don’t think I would want to write anything about my family that would upset them or start a rift with them. I guess I just don’t want awkward situations with the people closest to me or the ones I have to see every day. But I do have thoughts about them and the sort of crazy situations they put me in.
TNF: That makes sense, although I’m always drawn to the most vulnerable writers. How does your family feel about being written about all the time? Do they get approval rights before it goes live?
I always ask if they are ok with what I’m going to write about and give a bit of final approval although no one has really taken the opportunity to edit. Tere probably gets the least amount of choice in what I write or any approval rights. She definitely gets the shortest stick. The really funny thing is that some people in my life are not happy that they HAVEN’T been written about. Some are more straight forward about it than others but I guess everyone just wants to be acknowledged and celebrated.
TNF: I would think that Tere would get the most; it’s got to be tough being written about by your spouse. I guess that’s a sign of a good trusting relationship. I have found reading your blogs to be particularly interesting in that you have a completely different perspective than I do. You represent the other mother or the non-birthmother. How has that been for you –or do you even distinguish between the two?
I really feel like I’m some sort of new third type of parent that incorporates a bit of both a mom and a dad. It’s only a challenge when people expect me to be one thing and I end up being something else. We had a situation at our preschool last year and I think they were surprised when I pushed back hard on how things were playing out. It seemed their expectations of me were more “mom-like” and in the end I responded more “dad-like”. Those situations are difficult for me. I have a very unique “spot” and role in a family. It’s not a clear path and I feel quite often that I have to find my own way but I’m ok with that. I’ve never really taken the easy route to do anything so it fits.
TNF: That’s really interesting. Do you think the same happens to Tere or is her role more clear cut? Did the two of you have to work out who did what in the case of parenting or did you find it to be a natural transition?
I think Tere’s role is very clear cut. She’s the mom. Period. That’s it. The kids know it, everyone gets that. I think Tere was very stereotypical and wanted (still wants) to be Super Mom. My biggest challenge inside our house was to not be marginalized and shut out. It’s been and continues to be hard work to claim my space as a parent. It’s just not inherent in new mothers to share their parenting responsibility I think. They want to run the show and lots of dads are ok with that. I wasn’t. I wanted a say – a big say.
TNF: How did that go over with Tere?
Not well. It’s been a process. It still is. I’m pretty sure it’s not what Tere expected or maybe even wanted but in the end, I think she appreciates me. I think she would rather have it like this than having me check out and do my own thing. Or at least I tell myself that!
TNF: Do you think dads check out?
I think a lot do. Not all of them. We know lots of dads that are very involved. But at the end of the day, moms either end up staying home and take on the full responsibility of kids, or both parents work and the mom gets double duty. It’s just in our nature to take care of the people in our lives, especially the ones that really “need” us. So it becomes easy for dads to focus on work and other things.
TNF: I’m finding that less and less so in my observation of moms and dads, the roles seem to be shifting a bit but I get what you’re saying. How about your kids, are they asking the tough mommy daddy questions yet?
No, not at all. I’m not sure why. We don’t even hear much about other kids at the preschool asking or commenting. We’re the only same sex parents in the school and it almost seems like no one really pays attention, which is a good thing.
TNF: Do you have many friends that are same sex parents?
No, not that many. It’s unfortunate but in reality, most parents are straight – like over 95% of them.
Is it important to you to have other SSP’s in your life?
No, not exactly but it would be nice. It feels like there are so many components that go into finding other parents that we like, that have similar interests, similar challenges with their kids, similarly aged kids, etc. We can’t be too picky when it comes to who we actually like and connect with.
Thanks Heather for giving us insight into your world. It’s been a pleasure having you blog for us. Beautiful picture of the family too.