On our first date, my partner told me they wanted babies.
On their way to the bathroom.
They got up. Pushed in their chair, and said: “By the way, I totally want kids someday” and walked away.
Nine months later, Norse* and I traveled to see family in Toronto and stopped by Come As You Are (a rad sex-positive and queer–friendly sex shop). We went in for toys, but came out with the book “What Makes a Baby.”
This week, we sent emails to our queer friends and community who have made and/or adopted gaybies to ask for their advice and support.
Sometimes I wonder how we got here. I have never before desired to have babies. In past relationships, I have been strict about my child-free status. When Norse and I first met, we fought about whether kids should be invited to weddings (one of our biggest fights yet!). We talked at length about my lack of desire to parent, and their desire to do so. Then, we fell in love. A deep, incredible Beyoncé-style love. We started talking about our “maybe gayby.” Soon enough, we found ourselves solidly committing to 1.5 names for our two “maybe gaybies” and oogling our friend’s and families’ children. It took a trip across the world to meet our adorable and giggly nephew to cement our decision.
We want to make a gayby. And soon!
As a cis woman of almost 30, some might say that my lack of desire to parent in my 20s is directly connected to my “biological clock,” which might only now be starting to “tick.” I fundamentally reject the pressure put on white, middle-class, able-bodied, cis women to mother, while poor and racialized women, and women with disabilities, are targeted for sterilization and often dangerous long-term birth control. In/fertility is sometimes connected to age; however, there are a host of structural, environmental, political, social, cultural, and physical issues connected to one’s in/fertility or desire to parent. In/fertility itself does not causally impact one’s desire to parent. Neither does gender.
My desire to parent is directly connected to my desire to co-parent.
Previously, I did not desire to parent because I neither wanted to parent alone (BIG SHOUT OUT TO SINGLE PARENTS) nor did I want to parent with the person I was in a long-term relationship with for most of my 20s. I could not imagine raising children with this person or their family, so I never imagined ever having kids. I didn’t see co-parenting in our future. Plus, I was busy obtaining a PhD, getting a tenure-track job, publishing my research, and building community.
As a woman who shirks some socially constructed and valued feminine ideals, while also embracing and queering others, the word “mom” (much like “wife”) never seemed to fit my identity and how I imagined myself in the world.* The first child in my life who ever really “saw” me in a familial fashion is my niece who joyfully calls me “Uncle,” but confirms to her school teachers that I am, in fact, a girl.
It wasn’t until teaching my introduction to sociology class about how heterosexual marriages often fall apart under the pressures of the gender division of labour that I realized my queer identity and current relationship offered my partner and I the possibility to parent in ways that fit our identities and capabilities. While we will face stigma outside of our family “bubble,” realizing that it was possible to create a home free from, or at least resistant to, gender roles and expectations really allowed me to imagine myself parenting for the first time.
We have a long way to go in this process. A lovely and knowledgeable member of our community sent us a pdf of the introduction to the book “Mothering Queerly, Queering Motherhood.” Seems like a perfect first step for us two queers to take toward our (maybe) gayby.
*Alias to protect our identities in a small, rural community.
* “Mom” and “wife” are words that are salient for all kinds of folks for different reasons, and these are important positions often taken up by women who are undervalued, unpaid, and resilient.