“And yet, despite the stubbornness and longevity of this model, we are beginning to see small tears in the fabric. Like anything else that is broken down by time, a space opens for something new to emerge. And in this space we see that couples aren’t forced into marriage or monogamy to have children together, that women no longer have to accidentally become pregnant to have a family, that men and women can form families with members of the same sex, ex-partners, multiple partners and even friends, and that a myriad of reproductive options are opening to the masses. In this new model of family we no longer have to wait to meet “the one” or fit ourselves into an outdated model of family before we can honor our deepest biological and spiritual urge to create children to love. This is the new American family.”
Excerpt from “The New American Family.”
Aww, yes. Where it all began. When I found myself outside the traditional model of family and searching for my tribe. Who were they? Where they out there? Would they like me? Could I find comfort, solace or camaraderie in their presence? Was I anything like the single inseminated moms, or the same-sex dads, or the unmarried couples, or the families pieced together by adoption? I contemplated where I belonged and who would welcome me with validating phrases like,
“Oh, of course, you feel that way! We do, too.”
I was reminded of the isolation I felt in so many other areas of my life: practicing alternative medicine, living as an artist, traveling the globe alone, having multiple lovers, and even identifying as a bisexual woman in a binary world of homo and hetero. Where would I feel I belonged?
In an interview I did for the “The New American Family” the words spoken by one of the mothers (she had two babies as co-parents with her ex-boyfriend) still ring in my ears today:
“The single mothers have no patience for my story.”
I know I hear these words so clearly because I understand them so well. Who could hear her story or validate her experience when the closest “type” she could relate to was the single mother? The single mother who looking at her situation could only say with head-butting frustration, “What are you complaining about? You have an active, participating father to your child! I am doing it all by myself.”
When our choices or desires aren’t seen, validated, or understood, it amplifies the shame that is already present, simply for going against the societal norm. You had a baby with a man you’re not married to? That you don’t hope to marry? That you don’t even like that much? And what makes it worse is the question that follows:
Why didn’t you just wait?
For Prince Charming? Because honey, I slept with more than a dozen Prince Charmings in my twenties, and I’m 30 now and only have a handful of eggs left. And even if I did have eggs to ovulate for the rest of my thirties and forties, is it not okay that I want to enjoy parenthood in my thirties? Is it not okay that just because I’m not married I still want to experience the pure love that is motherhood while I’m young, and my friends have kids, and my health and finances are solid and strong?
I was having lunch with a friend at Venice Beach a few months back, she herself a year into the challenging fertility journey that women in their late thirties never see coming, when she said to me, “Well, you know, the strange situation you have?”
“Strange?” I responded. I’d hardly categorize it as strange. I’d actually use the word, “AMAZING.” I have an incredible father for my daughter and the freedom to go to lunch, go on dates, be creative, see grown-up movies and still be a mother, all without paying a babysitter and knowing my daughter is with someone I totally trust who she is deeply bonded with. “Sorry, why strange?”
We can’t expect the world to understand us and we may not necessarily find our tribe, but the longer we walk in our truth the more comfortable we become on our path. We might not ever fit in with the inseminated moms or the surrogate dads or the unplanned pregnancies or the blended families, but we can, however, find a common thread that unites us:
We all wanted children and we followed our hearts until we found them.
No matter what road we took to get there. We didn’t hold ourselves to the ideas we were raised with or use an outdated user manual for life. We charged forward and found our happiness, a way of life that worked for us, commonalities in not-so-common places, and of course, we found the greatest gift of all:
The beautiful babies that made us a family.