Queer Brown Girl Trying to be a Parent: Adventures of Being a Queer Mom Part 2
illustration: Erin McPhee
Many months ago I was a “Queer Brown Girl Trying to Get Pregnant”. I finally got pregnant. My son, Adli is almost 7 months old and this new mom is now a Queer Brown Girl Trying to be a Parent! Check out my 3 part blog series about the baby basics, adventures of being a queer mom, and motherhood as work!
Many people said to me to get ready cause my life was about to change forever. Even though I had heard this sentiment time and time again, I had no idea what was truly in store. And seriously, it changed! I still consider myself on probation for this very important job as I am not yet a seasoned mom, but already I have experienced the transition to being a parent. Many things have changed in my life; here are a mere few!
7 things that have changed about my life post baby
Relationships in my life have changed and ended It might be a harsh reality but every parent has said it to me: people who don’t have kids, just don’t understand. I have made some new parent friends and I have folks who don’t invite me out or connect with me anymore. This transition is tough because being a new parent is a time where you need lots of support, but you don’t have the time or energy to dole out the level of support you used to with friends and family. It is a challenge when friends aren’t interested in your kid/the thing you are spending every waking minute on. It truly does take a village to care for a child, but there isn’t always that support. I have come to remark that people who have kids totally understand what you are going through but don’t have much spare time to support, and people who don’t have kids don’t get it but have much more time to spare generally. This experience has truly changed my definition of ‘community’.
Obsession with Sleep (his and mine!) Who sleeps when you have a baby? There are those odd parents who have babies after the newborn stage dwindles that sleep through the night but this is not commonplace nor is it ever lasting. At some point all babies wake in the night due to colds, teething, excitement at learning new tricks and/or separation anxiety. And, since we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, once you are deprived of that time, you notice! Many folks have said that you get used to it but I haven’t come to believe them. I have lost sleep and I keep looking around the apartment trying to find it. Hmmmm.
- Body parts and body image My body does things that I am still amazed at even though most of the new stuff started 6 months ago. That is, I pushed a gorgeous kid out of my vagina. My uterus stretched to 500 times its normal size and has since stretched back. My breasts feed a human his most important and nutritious meal of his first year of life and my arms have never dropped my baby even though there have been so many times they feel like spaghetti by day’s end. I am strong yo. That said, I don’t always feel it. I have major stomach stretch marks, my vaginal canal took many weeks to heal, I am a size 16 now as oppose to my regular 10/12. I love to exercise but haven’t the energy or time and I so want to feel sexy (and warm cause its winter) but I need to wear clothes that allow easy access for breastfeeding. Sometimes, wearing a sweater means I have to lift my shirt in public, exposing my stretch marked tummy. It can be intense since people don’t regularly lift their shirt up exposing torso and breast in public.
Daily Cuteness Factor: Smiles Like Never Before I am constantly accosted by Adli’s cuteness. He has the ability to stop people in the street to stare at how adorable he is. The most wonderful thing about being a parent (and this was part of the reason I wanted to become one) is being part of a very special club where you and your spawn share the most precious moments, exchange kisses, giggles of excitement and whirls of laughter only you, the parent(s) get to share. Others may join in for sure, but it’s not nearly the same as with your own child. Watching Adli get excited when my partner walks in or giggle with pride when he pulls himself to a standing position melts my heart. It makes me realize I am truly happy.
My partnership; the way we interact, what we interact about Of course, my relationship has taken a hit in this whole transitioning from being a couple to being parents of someone together but I would describe it as more of a ‘stab of love’. A genuine stab as sometimes having become parents together is still a sudden shock to the ‘set in our ways-ness’ of our pre-existing relationship. We fight more about stupid stuff: like when we should sleep him, or what he should eat, etc. My partner says I hover, supervising her every move, and I say she doesn’t take my suggestions enough. Either way, it’s a big deal to co-parent a kid: using our own childhoods and experiences - recognizing that some of our childhood experiences were good and others we don’t want to repeat with Adli - to try and raise a new life, while respecting where the other person is coming from. And doing all of that in front of a crying baby who absorbs all the energy around him while simultaneously being sleep deprived new parents…. This is hard work!
What I want him to see me doing Vs. Not see me taking on/doing Babies/kids are sponges for everything around them and at the very beginning, it’s mostly your energy and vocal tone that they can pick up on. Adli clearly responds when I make different voices when reading a story or when I raise my voice or whisper. Since Adli is so easily influenced, I want Ads to see me doing things that are good, true, right, and best for him and I. That is, I want him to see me have authentic relationships, tell the truth, speak in soft and loving tones to people, play and spend time with people I love, respect the earth and people on it and so many other positive things. I don’t want him to see me being guilted into doing things I don’t want to do or aren’t ready for, working all the time, using harsh tones to speak with anyone, or to pick flowers (even though I so love this one). I want to change some of the actions I saw others do when I was a youngin’.
The Moms Group: Always the Brownest and Gayest There are always more straight people in the mom’s groups then there are gay people. Go figure. So I still always have to come out. Obviously, I don’t have to come out as Brown but there is that factor too, especially when the two mom’s groups I have attended are 90% straight, white women. Then, I have to come out as feminist (especially when group facilitators insist Adli have blue paint for his footprint stamp or we sing that god awful Duke of York war baby song again!). It annoys me further that I have yet to see a Black or Indigenous woman in any of these groups because, I gather, these resources are of use to everyone and not only the already privileged/those who already have access to a lot of the info in and outside these groups. People have not acted outwardly homophobic to me or Adli yet, but I imagine people wonder how I got pregnant, what race Adli is (because they may have assumed my husband is white) and it probably goes on and on. I asked my partner to come to play group next week. My Jamaican butch love, my half me, half Taiwanese/German son and I, a queer brown girl trying to be a parent. I’ll let you know how that goes!
Bonus Story My partner and I volunteered to be the couple who comes to the prenatal classes and to share our birth story after Adli was born. We were so grateful to the midwifery clinic for their work and support so it was the least we could do to help other parents-to-be. As we sat to speak, a midwife student said to a collegue “I have never heard lesbians speak before”. My partner could have sworn she heard the skeptic in her voice. After we spoke, again my partner heard the student mutter, “Their birth story was just like other peoples”. Seriously?
Check out next month’s blog: Motherhood as Work