By: Amber Leventry
I am a fixer and a problem solver, sometimes to a fault. I want to provide logical explanations. I want to understand. And I want to have all of the answers, not to be right but to make sense of the world around me and ease the worries or confusion of the people in my life. I also know some things can never be explained or fixed. One of those things is the ongoing bigotry, fear, and ignorance against the LGBTQ community. While progress is being made, a lot of work needs to be done.
This work is being done by us, the LGBTQ community and our supporters. This can feel unfair sometimes. It can be exhausting, frustrating, and scary to defend our rights and right to love. And heartbreaking to prove our ability or justify our desires to be parents. If only we could live our lives in blissful ignorance and with natural born privileges. That is not our world. Finding ways to change minds and laws is our work and we will always feel some level of negativity against it.
My soapbox is worn thin, and I am tired. Despite some people’s opinions, I’m a parent and a pretty good one. I am tired from life with three beautiful but very busy little kids. Having kids has turned my everyday world into one filled with messes, giggles, and laundry. While living my dream as a parent, it’s hard to stay focused on the bigger picture and the world outside my house—the world that tells me I shouldn’t have kids because I am gay and the world I never want my children to know.
I can’t keep up with the Duggars. I don’t have the time to stay angry at every law passed that will limit my rights. I don’t have the energy to defend myself to another preacher who thinks the death of all homosexuals would solve the world’s problems. If I get bogged down with what’s wrong with the world, I won’t be able to show my children what is right. And I won’t have the patience and kindness to teach them the beauty of a diverse world and the allies who support it.
We, as parents, have the responsibility of introducing the world to our children. It’s a great responsibility that should not be taken lightly or advantage of. From the moment we brought each of our children home from the hospital, it has been my and my partner’s job to teach, show, and guide Eva, Ben, and Ryan through their environments. When our children are little, their worlds are exactly what we want them to be. Not only are the facts their reality and beliefs, but they believe our opinions to be facts. My children have been raised in an environment of kindness, open-mindedness, and acceptance. I am very aware that this is not the case for all kids.
When our daughter started daycare, her world grew bigger. Her understanding of the world was based on bonds she formed with other adults and children who she loved and trusted. Now that she is in preschool her world is growing again. She is almost four years old and understands so much more than I probably give her credit for. Her world consists of lasting friendships with kids she has been with since six months old, new books, new lessons, and new stories from new friends. In these new books and friendships are stories of family dynamics.
Eva is still the only kid in her class who has two moms and the only kid in the class with same-sex parents. While this has never been an issue for us or Eva, it surprises me a little. Eva has always been that token kid with the gay parents. And because most of her friends have been around Eva and our family since they were really young, it’s just what it is. Eva has two moms. No big deal.
But recently I overheard a friend of Eva’s ask her why she has two moms. Why, she wanted to know. Even though her friend asked this question with the sincere curiosity and innocence of a non-judgmental four year old, my heart skipped a beat. As much as I know Eva loves her mamas, sometimes in these moments there is a fear of rejection. What if being the only kid with two moms is a drag? When will Eva finally get fed up with not being one of the kids in her class or books who has a mom and a dad? What will happen when Eva realizes her family is different and people don’t like that difference?
I watched Eva shove a handful of Goldfish crackers in her mouth, shrug, and say, “I dunno.”
Eva’s buddy was fine with that answer and they moved to other topics. But I redirected the conversation and reiterated what both girls already knew: there are lots of different ways to define a family. A family with two moms is one of those ways. Later, I wished I had given them another answer.
I wish I had told them that Eva has two moms because I and my partner, Amy, fell in love. Two women fell in love. And those two women committed themselves to each other and the dream of having kids and a family. Eva has two moms because of love.
This is the world I want to show to my children, her friends, the people in my community and strangers everywhere. This is what I have energy for: gentle, yet proud and strong visibility. The best I can do right now, in the face of constant anti-gay sentiment, is to be a family.
I don’t have all of the answers and if Eva or Ben or Ryan comes home one day and asks me why some people think it’s gross or wrong that they have two moms, my heart will break and I will honestly have to say, “I dunno.”
Hating love is a hard thing to understand and even harder to explain. I don’t know.
I do know that even though my family is not depicted in story books the way their peers’ are, my children’s lives should be considered just as normal and common. Because they are. Eva shrugged off her friend’s question because it didn’t deserve more than that. Her life is all she knows. It just is. It’s not something she questions.
I also know that the tide will continue to shift. Fewer people will question homosexuality and more people will question those who don’t understand acceptance and love. Our community, our allies, and our children will continue to fight in a variety of ways and volumes until all questions about who we love can be answered and accepted with a shrug of the shoulder. It just is. Move on and live.