The story of a repressed desire
It just so happened that my wife and I started serious talks of having a family right around the time the world population crested 7 billion. I’ve never been good with numbers – heck, I still count with my fingers for simple math – but I know enough to know that 7 billion is quite the number, and that’s a lot of darn humans occupying the planet. Since then, we went back and forth about the hows of having a family. Should we adopt? Foster? Inseminate? Try in-vitro fertilization?
We researched becoming foster parents, and I quickly learned that my heart would never be able to handle it. I’d like to think I’m strong enough to witness and become directly involved with the unimaginably tragic stories that are so often a part of foster children’s lives, and I envy those whose hearts are big enough for that. But I’m not strong enough and I don’t have that kind of heart. It was difficult to come to that realization and not feel weak and pathetic: Other people can do it, why can’t I? But when we began our research, I knew my heart wouldn’t be able to take seeing a foster child of ours hurt or let down by their birth parents or the system that sometimes fails them. I felt as though I’d live in constant fear or concern that somewhere along the way, some court would make the wrong decision and return one of our foster children to a home that he or she shouldn’t be in. I know the system does its best – that’s all any of us can do – but I knew I couldn’t handle being part of that system.
After we discovered and became frustrated by the fact that it would take years upon years and more money than we have to adopt, we were left discussing the idea we are always brought back to: birthing a child.
A month into having met my now-wife, she told me she’s always wanted a little piece of her running around and that she’d like to experience child birth. On more occasions than not, when people hear this, they are surprised – visibly and verbally so. Of the 100 stereotypes about what a lesbian “looks like,” my wife fits 97 percent of them – and I might be 3 percent off on that (those darn math skills!). People are thrown for a loop, and often blurt out, “You want to carry?” Or they become like confused dogs, cocking their heads in curiosity and waiting for the punchline. Perhaps it’s easy for others to forget that behind all of her athleticism, her physical strength, her short hair, her men’s clothes and her rather feminine-looking wife, Sara is, indeed, very much a woman.
I didn’t grow up dreaming of becoming a mother. In fact, for years I swore I wouldn’t ever have children. I told myself: They’re messy; they’re always sick; they’re loud; I won’t be able to sleep late, or at all; I won’t be able to leave the house in 20-minutes notice; I won’t be able to DRINK. But when I finally came out and fell in love with a woman for the first time, I began to change my mind about children. And it took me a long time to realize that my views on children, or more accurately, what I told myself about having children, was a smokescreen and that it was never about the kids per se. As I began to find happiness and be at peace with myself, I realized I never wanted children because I couldn’t imagine raising a family with a man. Don’t get me wrong. I am no man hater. In fact, I adore and respect my father and three brothers immensely, and some of my greatest and healthiest friendships have been with men. But when I left my last male relationship with an otherwise great guy, I did so because I couldn’t bare the thought of waking up to a man – not necessarily this man, but any man – for the rest of my life. And as I tried to figure out my changing thoughts about having children, I discovered it wasn’t that I never wanted them; it was that I never wanted a family as I’d only ever known families: with a mother and a father.
And now, a family is all I want – with my wife. Give me the dirty diapers, the endless nights, the never-clean house, the days without showers, the screaming, the crying. And the love. The joy. The fulfillment of having a family. I never used to believe in these things. But I also never used to believe in true happiness. How wrong I was. Turns out, sometimes being wrong is a great blessing.