As the boys develop into real people – as opposed to babies – I have been wondering how they will feel about our alternative family dynamic . Every parent hopes that the children that they bring into the world will grow up to be confident in the skin of their family, to feel proud of how they came into the world and how they were raised. So here is an open letter to our twins, whom we love so much.
Dear Balthazar and Lysander,
If you are old enough to read this then you have probably figured out that sometimes, your family requires a little explaining. You may even know that mummy writes a blog dedicated to normalising the idea of the non-traditional family and that is why your adventures are constantly documented and sometimes strangers know your names.
At the time of writing this, you are almost ten months old. You don’t understand the concept of man and woman, of mother and father. You call us ‘dadadadaDA’ with a rising pitch and your grandmother is trying hard to convince you to change it to ‘mamamamaMA’ but you are having none of it. Beards both fascinate and horrify you. You have one grandfather and two great grandfathers and an uncle, but for the most part you are surrounded by women – you have two mummies, a plethora of female relatives and all of our female friends all dying to fawn over you.
If you are old enough to read this, then I hope that we have been successful in finding you some male role models. It’s hard to friend-date with you in mind, especially when we have so many people in our lives and so little time as it is. But I know that it’s important that we find some men who embody the best qualities of the opposite sex, so that if ever you identify more strongly with the title of ‘man’ than ‘person’ (and that’s ok) you are surrounded by strong examples of how a man should be. I hope that you know that being a man does not necessarily mean holding any enthusiasm for football, because I don’t think that I can stand to watch you play. Horses make for excellent sport and they’re faster than human legs or bicycles. Also, you will be a rare and desirable breed amongst all of those young girls on the yard, if that appeals to you.
I do not think that I should have to apologise for the absence of a father for you. For one thing, you would never have come into being had I felt a moral obligation to provide my children with a penis at the head of the table. For another, you have two excellent mothers. I might be a bit crap at some aspects of this parenting thing but I’m going to raise you to be good people, and your other mother, well – let’s just say that she’s even my parenting role-model. She’s amazing and you are so lucky to have her in your corner.
We are on the cusp of a new world and that is so exciting. Even in my lifetime – and I’m not old, my dears – there have been enormous changes in the way that people perceive and respond to difference. It is mostly ok to fall in love with whomever you fall in love, to get married if you want to and not to bother if you don’t, to have children if you want them. Possibly by the time that you read this letter the concept of two-mum or two-dad families will seem so normal and boring to you and your peers that you question why I even wrote this letter. Possibly the idea of a blog devoted, at least in part, to proving ourselves as a family will seem absurd to you. I hope so.
I want to thank you for sharing this adventure with me. Being your mummy has ‘outed’ me in a way that hadn’t happened before I had children, before we were a recognisable family rather than maybe-flatmates with a dog. You have cemented us.
When children were a daydream I always thought that we would do this differently, that we would be more settled, more organised and mature, that the Magical Fairy of Adulthood would have given us the answers by now. Well, she hasn’t. And here’s something that I didn’t realise until recently and I’m going to give you a head start by telling you now: She doesn’t exist. One day you may become a parent, and when that happens you will be handed a small, dependent human and not a sprinkle of that warm parental assurance that everybody else on the ward seems to possess. That’s fine – they’re faking it too. We all are. But what is undeniably real is that fierce, burning love that we feel for you, that keeps us from smothering you in the dead of the night when you’ve woken us up again, that drives us to lug you about on our bodies like tiny princes and spoon our favourite meals down your throats before we’ve had a chance to sample ours. We love you. You are ours.
And I hope that you will feel proud to be ours and lucky to have us for mothers. I hope that you won’t feel the loss of a father, that the family you have will be the family you want. I hope that we will be enough for you. I hope that you grow up to be happy and healthy and comfortable in your own skin and the skin of your family, that you don’t cringe when you introduce us to your friends or hesitate to bring a partner home to meet your parents. I hope that you know how much we love you, that we always will. I hope that is enough.
Your Mother x