For some time, I had prepped, and stressed, and anticipated my daughter asking the long-awaited question about her aunts Tara and Carey.
Every so often, I would run through responses in my head, so that when the moment finally did arrive, I would be ready. I wouldn’t falter, stumble, or pause. I would, instead, provide the nonchalant attitude and sense of confidence that the subject deserved.
But, despite all of my preparation, I still felt my pulse quicken and body tense when my curious 5-year-old randomly asked from the backseat of the car one day, “Mommy? How come our cousins have two mommies instead of a mommy and a daddy like I have?”
I took a deep breath, and made eye contact with her in my rearview mirror.
“Well honey,” I replied. “All families are different. Some families have two mommies, some have two daddies, and some families have just a mommy or just a daddy. Family is just the people who love you, care about you, worry about you, and make you feel better when you are sick. Everyone’s family is different and that’s perfectly okay.”
I paused, unsure if my answer would suffice. After all, my little blue-eyed girl has been questioning everything since the time she could talk.
“Oh, okay,” she replied. “When we get home, can I have a snack?”
The conversation was over as quickly as it began, and I suddenly felt silly for all of my worry. My beautiful, amazing nieces have two mommies; but while their family is unique, the similarities between our families far outweigh the differences.
I recently sat down for an open and honest conversation with my two sister-in-laws, and they provided four things that they’d like everyone to know about their family.
1. Their parenting roles are defined.
“I would say that I discipline more, but that comes naturally. I am around them the most because I’m the stay-at-home mom,” Carey said. “We’re both equally nurturing and comforting. It actually goes in waves with which one of us they want to comfort them.”
As is the case in most families, when one parent is able to stay home full-time, he or she handles many of the day-to-day tasks. Carey spends the day caring for their twin 2-year-old girls and 5-month-old daughter, while Tara works outside the home as an engineer.
2. They worry.
Like all parents, they worry about their girls’ futures. They worry about their health, their well-being, and their growth and development. They also worry what kids on the playground will say to them when they’re older.
“My biggest fear is that they will be bullied because they have two moms. Bullying is a big deal, and kids are impressionable. But, I also know we will raise them to be strong and proud of who we are as a family,” Tara explains.
3. They celebrate things heterosexual couples take for granted.
After the recent change in marriage laws, Tara and Carey legally wed in May 2016. This granted Carey one of her biggest triumphs to date: to be listed as a legal parent on their youngest daughter’s birth certificate.
“When you start having kids and aren’t able to be on the birth certificate because you’re a same-sex couple, it’s hard. These kids are my kids,” Carey said.
Tara was the birth mother for their three daughters, so now Carey is working toward legally adopting them.
4. They welcome questions.
Having both come out to their families and friends years ago, they have grown accustomed to the occasional stares and whispers. But, while they have learned to ignore them in the past, they are now taking a different approach as a family of five.
“I wish people would just ask. Ask about anything that you’re unsure of. I would love to answer everyone’s questions about our life. You can’t change the thinking of others if you don’t allow them to ask you open and honest questions,” Carey relayed.
“I’ve had a couple of great conversations at the grocery store with curious older ladies. They think my daughters are cute, but are confused when I say ‘Thank you! My wife makes beautiful babies!'” she said. “So, I answered all of their questions, we went our separate ways, and I hope that I’ve opened their eyes to something new and exciting that is going on in our country.”
As parents, it is our job to teach our kids to celebrate what makes us all different. By opening their minds, we keep those beautiful childhood hearts full of love and acceptance.