Mothers Day the LGBT Way
by Amy Wimburger
Heather may have two mommies but compared to some of the children in my life, Heather is a slacker. With our blended, meshed, fluid created LGBT families of choice even the simplest holiday can bring joy, sorrow and illumination.
Let’s imagine for a moment that my ex-girlfriend (we’ll call her XGF from now on) and I hadn’t broken up but had, indeed, joined our families together in a civilly non-sanctioned union of some sort involving cake and champagne. There would be a total of six girl-children and five grown women involved in raising them. (Not to mention grandmothers). That is a lot of Mother’s Day logistics to work out!
One teen I know wins the prize for most mother figures in her life. She was brought into this world by a couple, raised by a trio that eventually became another couple when one left the relationship but not the parenting. After many years, and two more children, those two broke up and each found new partners, bringing the number of female parental units to five for this much-loved child. Her sisters are stuck with only four.
That could be a serious Mothers Day gift budget crisis. You’d have to set up an assembly line to mass produce cards. Think of all that glitter!
But what about the ex-girlfriend of one of the moms? She helped raise the youngest girl for the last four of her seven years. They loved each other. Where is the space for the love between a child and an adult when the relationship between adults ends? And what about the woman who had to leave the home? Never quite a stepmother and now childless, what does she think on Mother’s Day, as the “Other Mother?”
What about Tiffany and her two dads? What does she do on Mothers Day?
And what about our mothers? For any population, the mother-child relationship can be …emotional. For those of us with sexuality and gender identification outside the norm for women, that relationship can be particularly strained or trying. (My mom is an odd duck who took it harder when my sister refused to change her last name when she got married than when I came out after 16 years of marriage. She gets a card.) Can you send a “Happy Mothers Day from your Damned Daughter/Son/Other” card? Does Hallmark even make a card that reads: Roses are red, violets are blue, I used to be your son, but now I’m a girl?”
When mothers have passed away, they are missed. They are missed because they were/are loved and loved us so much. They are missed because they or we loved too little. Sometimes they are missed for both reasons at the same time.
And what about those in our community who realize that because of what they feel deep inside and who they love and how they love they may never get the chance to be mothers? Or mothers who because of adoption and marriage laws that only grant legitimacy to heterosexual couples have lost custody of or even access to a beloved child?
For all of those for whom Mother’s Day holds the potential for more sorrow than joy, I propose a refocusing. Take a moment to acknowledge the sorrow or loss and then find a way to honor the spirit of the day.
Ever since I can remember, my siblings and I send Mother’s Day cards to our childless aunt. Not a blood relative, but a long time friend of our mother’s, our Aunt was always there for us. Imagine if we took the time to acknowledge and thank all the women who have, in one way or another, mothered us. The friend who comforted us through the coming out process. The sister we think is a really great mom to our nieces or nephews. The mentor or professor who guided us professionally, academically or through the throes of adolescence.
Or better yet, in this time of war and enmity, we could try and reclaim Julia Ward Howe’s vision of all the Mothers of the world rising up together in protest of war as a political tool. Send a Mother’s Day card to the politician of your choice and give them your opinion.
Of course, we know the “real” meaning of Mother’s Day is an overpriced, highly-caloric brunch at an overcrowded restaurant or, if you follow the suggestions in the newspapers and women’s magazines, breakfast in bed and a day at the spa. But for womyn-loving-womyn couples the question is – who cleans up the breakfast mess? Who gets to go to the spa and who does childcare?
I say, no matter who you are and what your family looks like, if you want to celebrate Mother’s Day, do it YOUR way! Have a LGBT family picnic. Get a babysitter and go to the spa. Write your mother a letter full of things you wish you’d said and burn it in a cathartic ceremony that could involve Twinkies and/or tequila. Give thanks to Mother Earth for giving you a place to sit. Howl at the Lady Moon. Whatever feelings Mother’s Day invokes in you, go with them. Look at them, own them and find strength.
And if you have the urge for a mimosa and a waffle, who am I to say don’t do it?
Pass the glitter. I have a bunch of cards to make.
Amy Wimburger is The Rainbow Babies wit-in-residence. You would think we had her on some kind of huge retainer, but alas, that’s not the case. She wants to make sure that you understand that she doesn’t necessarily recommend mixing Twinkies and tequila, but she thinks it would bring a whole new meaning to the concept of “The Twinkie Defense.”
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