Today is International Women’s Day and I’m hundreds of miles away from the women who have inspired me my whole life. I’m extremely lucky to be so close with both of my mums, and yes even though Mother’s Day is more expensive than Christmas, I wouldn’t change a thing.
“Ok, but like, who is your real mum?” is a question I’ve heard over and over again. My ‘real’ mum is the woman who has clothed me, fed me and loved me since the day I was born. So in that case, I have two mums. “Right, but who gave birth to you?” I’ve never understood why people are obsessed with asking me this either. Why does it matter? Why do you care?
From a young age I have always been very open about one thing: I have two mums. No dad, just a sperm donor. I really don’t have a problem with people being curious and wanting to try and understand my increasingly complicated family (I have drawn a few family trees in an attempt to simplify the various people in my life). However, I find these two questions hard to understand.
When people I barely know ask who my birth mother is, I can’t help but think, ‘you don’t know either of them and telling you their names would mean nothing to you. So why do you care!?’. Some people can’t get their head around the fact I have two mums, that are both equal in parenting. They attempt to figure out who my ‘main’ parent is, but that’s not my situation at all. I have two mums. That’s it.
Once my mums had broken up, me and my sister split our time equally between them, it didn’t matter who gave birth to who. Biologically, yes, I have a different mother to my sister, but that’s it in terms of ‘real’ mums.
So there it is, the BIG reveal. That’s what it feels like anyway. When travelling and staying with people through Wwoofing, you naturally have the kind of conversations that lead to: where are you from, why are you travelling, do you have brothers and sisters etc. Very normal questions. Until I mention that my oldest brother is 31 and my youngest brother is 6. It’s a big difference in age, that people usually want to know more about. That’s when it happens, the BIG reveal. It’s a pretty hard conversation to avoid if you’re spending a lot of time together. Not that I would ever try to hide it, but sometimes it’s just easier to skip that part I guess.
Fortunately, everyone I have told whilst travelling has been very accepting, mainly just curious. The typical question I receive is “Did you ever have any trouble because of this at school? Bullying etc..?” Luckily, I never did. Honestly the worst thing anyone ever said was when I was about 13 and a boy ran up to me, shouted “Three mums” (I have a step mum as well, yes my family gets more confusing I promise). So that was it, no one really cared, not to my face at least.
One thing that was always fun though, was the look of confusion on your teachers face at parents evening when you arrive with a squad of women marching behind you.
It’s always a bit awkward telling people for the first time. Especially potential boyfriends, when the conversation arises and you have to ‘joke’, “Your dad hasn’t ever donated sperm has he? Ha ha” to avoid any potential incest. That’s the other thing, I have no idea who he is. Which I don’t really mind about, the only thing I’m SUPER curious about is what he looks like. You can see the similarities with my little sister and her biological mum but it would be cool to see what similarities we might share. The law changed in April 2005 which means if you are born after then, you can legally request information about your sperm donor (although we were not helped by a clinic so it wouldn’t matter anyway). But, it will be very interesting to see if my little brother chooses to receive his information or not.
It’s interesting to see how ‘unconventional’ families are becoming slightly more ‘normal’ in everyday society, however, there is still a long way to go for LGBT families to be portrayed in films and tv. For example, the only LGBT parents in a tv show that I can think of is Carol and Susan from Friends. My little brother has got quite a good variety of books representing two mums or two dads, my personal favourite being And Tango Makes Three . But, as much as my stepmum has tried, she has only found one children’s book to help explain IVF, and I think she threw it in the bin. So there’s still plenty of things that can be done to help normalise different family scenarios.
I was brought up surrounded by strong women who have shaped me into the person I am today and I don’t know what I would have done without them. Me and my siblings have been brought up knowing that we can be whoever and whatever we choose to be, regardless of gender or sexuality. I know that whatever path I take I will always be accepted and loved by them. That is why we should celebrate today, for all the women who have inspired us, fought for us and continue to make the world a better place for us to live in.