It’s 9:42 pm and I am finally sitting down to write. I wanted to write a blog post about things that are going well in my life as a non-gestational parent, because there truly are many, but I think I need to save that for another time when I feel like I have the energy to articulate that in a way that feels real and doesn’t inadvertently breed the oppressive ghost of parental competition.
What is real for me tonight has less to do with being a queer, non-gestational parent and more to do with being lower middle class and living in a society that doesn’t exactly make it easy to be a family with two full-time working parents living in our individualistic, far from family-friendly culture. Even with that statement, I have a caveat: I truly feel blessed to have a circle of wonderfully supportive friends who have graced us with the gift of never having had to hire a babysitter in the 2.5 years since our daughter was born (well, there is that full-time daycare bill). And an extra shout out is seriously due to our dear friend, who I will just call “A”- I will never be able to spell out in words how much it means to us that he commits to weekly hang out time with our family so that he can connect with our daughter, help us make dinner after a long day of work, and take a shift of scrubbing dishes. He is a gift in our lives and I am thankful. Even still, even with this support from our family of choice (our families are supportive, but they all live far from us), I feel like I can barely keep my head above water since this semester started three weeks ago. I know I am not alone in this. I feel like some nights I wish I could shape-shift into a toddler myself and just have a good cry, “IT’S HARD!” (Which I sometimes do.) And we just have one kid and we’re very privileged in many ways. I am in awe of single parents and parents of multiple children.
So I guess I write this blog post now to say (both to parents and non-parents): a) I wish I had more for you dear readers (soon, I promise); b) try to suspend your judgment the next time you witness a “parent miss” when you’re at the grocery store, the library, waiting in line somewhere; I bet they’re doing the best they can in that moment… why not offer support instead of judgment? (“Is there anything I could do to help? It’s really stressful when a child is having a tantrum in public.”); c) if you’re able, help a parent-friend out who could use a couple hours to themselves (I swear I’m not making a shameless plea for our family; I just know it’s so hard to ask); d) work in whatever ways you can to create a more family-friendly environment, whether that be in your workplace, public places you frequent or places of worship.
And with that I say to you and myself: “good night, and good luck.”