We all know about the trials and tribulations of the military mum, but how about if you throw being a LGBTQ mum into that equation? Today I have Toki from Rock The Baby Bump to share her experience of being a LGBTQ military mum.
Being gay isn’t a disease nor is it a choice.
My partner (now wife) and I felt the pain of not living up to the hallmark heteronormative relationship during our early military lives.
We lived in fear. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was our motto.The biggest questions that incinerated our souls, “why aren’t you married? No kids yet?”
We were both hitting our mid thirties, surrounded by men and this stigma to be married with kids was expected of us.
How did we combat this?
We didn’t. We survived one day at a time. We lied. A LOT. It was torture.
Surprisingly though, many had no thought that we were a lesbian couple. We were simply, “roommates”. It was a stagnant life. We both felt having a family, living in hiding and fear, wouldn’t be fair.
Fast forward to September of 2011, being stationed in the state of Massachusetts, the repeal happened.
We felt freedom and yet a deep sense of fear. Was this really ok? Could we be open, honest, safe and comfortable?
As an introverted woman, I was still the one to not “expose” myself to anyone. While my wife (partner at the time) is the complete opposite! (At times, it got us into the most unpleasant of situations.)
Situations where she felt the need to introduce me to others as her wife which visibly made those people very uncomfortable. It was awkward.
Understandably though, she was just happy to be open but we live in a time of great imbalance. It’s scary. People will put up huge fronts to hide what they are truly feeling. It’s hard to trust anyone to be sincere towards you.
The looks, the sneers, the questions were endless. Thank goodness those few closest to us, were supportive.
In dealing with that, big decisions needed to be made. The process to begin our family and fertility treatment were instant. We already had the foundation and plan set up for having kids, now all we needed to do was execute it.
Or should we? Should we bring these babies into this world knowing what we were up against?
I can remember fighting endlessly with myself, to accept that I was not giving my child the traditional family “she deserved”. But with life, comes difficulties.
Those difficulties allowed us to find the warrior within and move forward. You literally grow up and realize life is too short to be unhappy just to please others.
My wife was first for pregnancy, I was second.
Silly as it sounds, we went “shopping” for a donor from the California Cryobank. A man that was most related to me in height, hobbies and career.
We chose a 5’9” Irish man, red hair with freckles, who loved to be outdoors and was an engineer by trade. It was an “open” option, meaning the girls can contact him when they are eighteen years old if they so choose.
I will not get into the many facets of what goes on with and IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) but I will say it was, and always will be, well worth it.
(NOTE: Learn more about my process and journey from IUI to birth)
My partner and I both were blessed with little healthy baby girls. The oldest being 2.5 years old and the youngest 16 months as of November 2016.
During the first pregnancy, we decided to move on base to be closer to work and daycare. I was extremely hesitant because I was afraid how people would react to us.
Will our home be defaced? Will our cars be compromised to harm us? Would the daycare teachers purposely neglect my babies or be rough with them? Would a crowd of moms come after us with pitchforks and torches!?
Probably not that last one, but those thoughts are real, as is the hurt and fear.
Having so many negative thoughts was enough to paralyze me everyday whenever I would leave my home or even when I went to sleep.
Our personal situations with other families and the daycare teachers were few but very hurtful and very unwelcoming. We quickly had to learn to have patience with ignorance and prejudice.
Quick story; taking the girls to the parks on base are a highlight for them. They love being out of the house and playing (we are normally stuck in the house because we are afraid of the girls witnessing how the parents react to us. Not all the families but a few).
We get to the park with another family enjoying themselves. Normally, we would avoid this and move along to another park but the girls were already running full speed toward the slide.
There is no stopping them at that point (well, stopping them would lead to a demon tantrum) and I am just hoping for the best.
While the girls are laughing and saying hello to the two little boys playing, looks are exchanged between us parents and they pack up and leave.
I wasn’t surprised but I felt a deep hurt only because my innocent 2 year old, with her big brown eyes, came to me and said, “why leaving?” Her arms were in the air saying bye to them as they ran off.
They no nothing of prejudice.
We had to educate ourselves on what and how to convey to them without making them feel it’s their fault. This was not easy and most certainly isn’t fair but by just being us and loving the people we love, maybe we can teach our girls how to love without judgement.
What did we end up doing?
Educating ourselves and just figuring out if what we are saying and doing with the girls is right for us.
As they grow up more able to understand, the education we provide, I hope, will teach our girls how to love all humans for who they are, and avoid imposing preconceived ideas about who they should be.
Everyday is a new day with these girls and everyday we strive to keep the peace and the tantrums to a minimum just like any other parent. All we can do is love and teach tolerance to the girls. Find a way to just be with them. Hell, your children won’t care what you are doing as long as you remain engaged and present with them.
Get your mind right, your kids need you. Just learn to forgive yourself for being human and forgive others for their humanity too.
Toki is a military wife and mum of 2 baby girls under 2! She believes mothering will always involve long hours, heavy physical work and the type of worry that could bring down an elephant if put into a dart gun and is here to cultivate a sense of inner support to calm our mini little storms… Get to know her family here: Rock The Baby Bump.
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