Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Natural History

When asked by my friends to meet them in the Natural History Museum, I jumped at the chance. I love spending time with them and my two year old Goddaughter. I can bear navigating my way around the hundreds of tourists and squealing children to see the look of excitement on her face in the dinosaur exhibitions. When I say I have a Goddaughter, do not worry, I provide absolutely no religious guidance. It is my job to entertain her with stories, change the odd nappy and watch ‘In the night garden’. I am learning quickly and am now an expert at badly singing the Makka Pakka song, dancing Igglepiggle disco moves and making Pontipine burping noises. Do not even get me started on the Tombliboos, I’m sure they’re part of a government conspiracy to brainwash the next generation into liking Ken Livingstone's stealth taxes!

The following day I am marched against my will to the monthly lesbian mothers and children group. After an Oscar winning guilt trip I was told I would have fun when I got there and they’d really appreciate a couple of hour’s free time. It was easier getting a two year old ready than pulling me kicking and screaming down the road, begging ‘please let me take her to the park, I can cope with that’. I put up a good fight and hung onto the door frame for dear life before being outnumbered and dragged into a social club full of children, organic flapjacks and happy couples.

After several explanations of 'no she’s not mine', 'no, my partner is not here' and 'yes, maybe one day I’d like children', they rubbed salt in my wounds by introducing the guest speaker who was there to talk about civil partnerships. As the children quietly sat occupied with crayons, couples sat in a circle dreamily looking on in pride at their family as I munched flap jacks and clock watched. Mid serious discussion about lesbian law, my Goddaughter decided to play the game I taught her earlier that day and ran into the middle of the circle, growling and pretending to be a man eating dinosaur. Following a cat and mouse chase around the circle I scooped her up and we hurriedly left, fully aware I had just made Britney Spears’ parenting skills look good! As we ran for the park I was not sure whether the traumatic experience left me feeling depressed or optimistic of one day having a family of my own.

Several years ago I had a conversation with a woman who believed by ‘choosing’ to be gay you have lost the right to have children. Slightly taken aback by her attitude I calmly explained I did not choose this way of life or choose to make motherhood difficult. From an early age, I envisaged having a family; there was just no man in the picture only Jodie Foster – how did the whole world, including myself, not know I was gay? Anyway, we discussed society’s reaction to same-sex parenting and the moral dilemma of buying sperm or borrowing it off a friend. Our debate did lead me to question, is it fair to bring a child into the world fatherless, with the likelihood of being bullied and are same sex parents, plain and simply, acting selfishly?

My naivety towards parenting led me to ask friends and colleagues about their thoughts on having children. Stories flooded back about the minefield of emotions experienced with having children. Tearing hair out one moment, as they kick and scream to joy and laughter as they tell you their first knock-knock joke. The sadness as they head off for their first day of school and the pride when they pass their first spelling test. What struck me was the absolute, almost overwhelming love and responsibility friends were experiencing. The understanding that they would never be top of the agenda again and murder would be acceptable if anyone hurt their child.

That aside, there is one thing I do know and that is children are fantastic lady magnets! My trip to the park involved a long conversation with an attractive female by the swings and a lot of smiles and ‘arrhs’ from strangers as we fed the ducks. This got me thinking, do you think my friends will let me take their daughter to Soho? I could sit in a coffee shop, god-daughter on my knee smiling as I ooze an air of calm and control with a side helping of sensitivity and love. When approached I can subtly announce ‘She’s not mine’ followed dreamily by ‘I’m single, I just like spending time with her and it helps her parents out’.

Ok, now for the reality; me, a distressed screaming child and vomit in my hair. I’ve forgotten her food, water and milk. Her nappy needs changing but I can not manoeuvre the pram through the coffee shop and I am so scared she will hurt herself in my care that chatting to ladies is the last thing on my mind. I am contemplating buying a bargain bag of cotton wool and all I want to do is get her home, safe and sound.

On return from the park and thankfully no coffee shop dramatics, I see a man approaching with a baby swaddled to his chest. As he nears I smile in support of parents to realise he has a can of special brew in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I have previously questioned is it selfish for same sex couples to have a child? I can safely say, that at that moment seeing a another poor child about to be dragged up, I realise that to bring a child up loved, safe, without judgement is important and it is irrelevant if it is by two mums.

As my Goddaughter grows up strong, self assured and happy; the bullies won’t bother and society will begin to accept. Every child in the social club was lucky to have two adoring parents and I believe every woman has the right to have a child regardless of sexuality.


Anonymous said...

In an ideal world, the perfect parents are a Mother and a Father. We are all now quite detached from anything that could be called a perfect world. I have seen too many childen brought up by Mum&Dad who are unhappy, angry, violent, drunks, lazy....I have also seen single mothers and fathers bring up their children in the most wonderful stable environment. Speaking from personal experience, my children live with their father. Long and complicated story but in short life does not always work out how you dream and wish it does. If ever there was a perfect father, then he would be it. He has had intense pressure to re-marry but has chosen not to. I am there in my children life, although not day to day, I am there. They have mum and dad who simply don't live together. They are strong, secure, bright and more confident than any of the other children in the family who live with both parents. The point is, what you say is true, in this world, the ideal perfect parents are nothing to do with sex. It's how you raise your children and what kind of values you offer them.

Female therapy said...

Thanks for sharing a real story that’s not based around ‘night gardens’ and lady magnets! It sounds like your children are doing just fine. Today’s society is far from perfect but I do believe over time it will become so much more accepting of same-safe parenting.

I think it is important to have positive male and female influences in a child’s life. If/when I am in secure, strong relationship which we feel we can raise a child up in then my housemate will have a lot of baby sitting responsibilities. I should probably warn him ;-)

Anonymous said...

Your God-daughter will be no different from any other child as she is growing up. The bullies will always find something to pick on. It's their problem, not anyone elses.

Female therapy said...

Hey Anon,
You're completely right, bullies will always find someone they feel is a target. Whether short, fat, hair colour, race, religion or family background. There will always be children and adults who think they can victimise others. Maybe if society can stand up to the minority of bullies then we'd all be happier!

Now someone get me off my soap box please - I have been there before with 'Who let the dogs out' :-) x

Holly said...

Kids are great, aren't they?

It's natural to worry about our children's futures although they don't seem to preoccupied with it themselves! It's good to take a leaf out of their book sometimes and feed the ducks, go to the Trocadero, go ice skating... Just to let go and become a bit of a child too. I love it. God knows in ten years time I'm going to be Public Enemy Number one, I will be that embarassing parent! Enjoy them while you can. Mind you, if you're a GodParent, you're going to be the cool aunty at that stage aren't you?

Female therapy said...

Hey Holly,
I am a cool Aunty to 4 very important children who all know variations of the game 'fire breathing dragon'. I am seeing them all over the next couple of weeks and I can not wait. I will enjoy seeing the world through their eyes and one day will have one of my own, knowing that regardless of how well I bring my children up at some point I will be public enemy number one and embarrass them. I can't wait :-) x

Lilly said...

I hate to admit this... but as an adult (whose twin five year old nieces live overseas, and therefore without any REASONABLE explanation) I absolutely adore Makka Pakka! (Why am I admitting this?!) But I really do have to say... it is strangely mesmerising stuff!!

Still loving your writing!


Female therapy said...

hey Lilly,
Quick help yourself, you're falling into the government conspiracy tax acceptance! move slowly away from the T.V and try to ignore the Tombilboo's :-) Even I have to admit Makka Pakka is cool... Oh my god they're drawn me in now! x

p.s. nice to hear from you