Ellie and I often discuss how all families look a little different. She has friends with gay parents, single parents, step-brothers and half-sisters. Her own parents are divorced, soon she’ll have a step-sister through her father’s upcoming marriage, and – omg embarrassing – her mom has a boyfriend. I’m fairly certain she’ll hold a grudge against me for not having more children, for divorcing her father, and probably for not being super wealthy with a private jet.
My parents are married. I had an extremely normal, middle-class, rural upbringing. I always wanted a sister, wished I was closer with my grandparents, wanted to go to school with black kids, and move to a high-rise in the city.
The grass is always greener on the other side. We don’t understand the decisions our parents made, and until we’re adults and can fully comprehend that they didn’t have a fucking clue what they were doing, we blame them for everything.
Yesterday someone shared a story with me; a story about a woman who feels jilted by her deadbeat father for leaving [full story pasted below]. Heather, the author, published her open letter in The Federalist and titled it, “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting.” Her story is about being raised by lesbian mothers and how she has since come around to realize that the “traditional family” complete with a dad, a mom and several children, is the right way to live.
Conservative media outlets are selling the story hard. It shows why being gay and having kids is wrong. How the non-traditional family is ruining everything. But when I read the letter all I could see was how much this woman still hurts from her father’s absence.
Heather lost her father. He walked away from her, and her mother found someone new. I’d venture to guess that even if her mother was straight and re-married a man, he wouldn’t have been able to replace her biological father. She felt abandoned, but that is certainly not proof that children of same-sex parents all feel a sense of loss or abandonment.
It’s lovely that Heather found a person to spend her life with, and that he cares deeply for their children, but she is comparing her caring, loving partner to her deadbeat father. She’s blaming her mother, and the fact that her mother is gay, for the sense of abandonment she feels.
She watched TV and saw snippets of her friends’ lives, and thought, “Hey, that looks normal. That looks perfect.” But the TV shows of Heather’s childhood, showing all those perfect, normal, happy families weren’t real.
One day her four kids will be grown, and they’ll have their own stories to tell. They’ll feel the same way we all feel: like something could have been better or different, like our parents could have tried harder or given more, that they aren’t normal. None of us are normal.
If a child is loved and treated well it just doesn’t matter if that child’s parents are women or men or one of each. That child is doing a hell of a lot better with even one loving parent than so many kids in the world.
Here is Heather's open letter, originally posted on thefederalist.com on March 17:
header photo from Minnesota State Capitol found on cbsnews.com