A Tale of Two Mommies

2 Nov

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I think there are several different ways to make a stepfamily.  DH and I are not married, but you wouldn’t know it if we didn’t tell you.  In fact most of our friends are surprised to find out that we’re not.  Regardless of the lack of legal documentation, we consider ourselves a stepfamily.  My two oldest children enthusiastically embrace to DH as their stepdad.

Regardless of your views on homosexuality or same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian stepfamilies are also included under the umbrella of stepfamilies.  Because same-sex marriages are not recognized by most states it’s hard to get an accurate count of the number of gay and lesbian stepfamilies there are in the US, but they fall in the estimated number of families created by co-habitation.

Tina and Lisa

I recently reconnected with a friend via Facebook.  Lisa and I did cheer and theater together in high school so I was thrilled to find her. But I was even more thrilled to learn that she had found the love of her life in her partner Tina, after a very difficult marriage.

I know several lesbian couples, but Lisa and Tina are the only gay couple that I know with such a huge blended family.  When I asked Lisa if they would be willing to be interviewed, she quickly said “yes!” and I was lucky enough to pin them down for a chat before they left on a 3-week European cruise.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a stephousehold with two moms?  Read on!

How long have you been a couple?
We have been together for 4 years. In fact, we just celebrated our anniversary in Santa Barbara in September.
How many children did you each bring into the relationship?
We each brought three children to the relationship. We call it the “modern-day Brady Bunch”.  Lisa brought two girls whose ages are 19 and 17, and one boy, 12. Tina brought three girls ages 24, 19 and 14.  Lisa’s children are from her former marriage.  Tina’s two oldest children are biologically hers and her youngest is biologically her ex-partner’s. We also have 2 dogs together!

A "modern day Brady Brunch", Lisa and Tina both bring 3 children to the relationship ages 24 to 12.

 

What do your custody arrangements look like?  Do you have to do a big “kid shift” every other weekend?
With six children between the two of us, you’d think it would get confusing, but it’s really pretty simple. Tina’s two older girls are now over 18, but she was the primary custodian for both, and her ex-partner is the primary custodian for her youngest daughter.  My ex-husband is deceased, so I have full custody of my three children.

Was it easy to blend your families?
There were a few bumps in the road in the beginning. Our girls did competitive cheer together, (in fact, that’s how we met) so they were best friends first. Becoming sisters though, was a little bit of a transition.

Tina and I are friends with Tina’s ex. She’s a great person, and we all try to work together for the kids. In our experience, it’s very common in the lesbian world for ex-partners to remain friends. In fact, I think it’s even more so than in the straight world.  A couple of weeks ago we moved my 19-year old into her dorm at college and it was the three of us putting her room together.

I’ve always personally thought that there would be great advantages to having two moms in the household since traditionally women do much of the child-rearing.  What advantages and disadvantages of being raised in lesbian household?

Really and truly it’s just about two parents (either gay or straight) showing love and respect to their children and to each other. I think for us personally, we tend to just pick up when the other one needs it. We seem to know when to step in and take over for one other without even saying. We just seem to know when one of us needs the other to be stronger. Call it women’s intuition? I don’t know, but it’s wonderful.

I don’t really see that we have any real disadvantages. We joke around a lot about who got the “lesbian gene” and who didn’t when something breaks, but the truth is we both try to fix it until one of us gets it. It all works for us. Tina loves to cook and I love to clean. Tina doesn’t mind laundry and I don’t mind gardening. Tina’s good at math homework and I’m good at school projects. Tina’s great at sports and I’m great at rhinestoning everything (and I mean, everything).

Being in a stepfamily has many of the same challenges whether you’re gay or straight. Do you think there are unique challenges to lesbian stepfamilies? How do you overcome them?

The most challenging part of any stepfamily is everyone trying to find their place. Where do they belong? Where are their boundaries? Tina and I have different boundaries with each other’s kids than we do with our own. For example there are some things that only I can say to one of my girls that she just doesn’t feel is her place to say and vice versa. Each child has a different place with both of us mainly because of their ages. Tina’s oldest was grown when we got together so I don’t really have a “parent” role with her but we have a great relationship. As far as my son is concerned we co-parent him together (he’s the youngest and the only boy). Each one of the kids in-between fall into categories according to their age. It took us a while to figure out how everyone fit together and where everyone’s place was and that was probably our biggest challenge.

If you could be the spokeswomen for lesbian stepfamilies in America, what would you want the world to know?

We would want the world to know we define “normal”. We are just like any other family. We deal with the same challenges every day that most families do. One of us works outside the home, one of us stays home with the kids. We have dinner at night together and do homework together. We go to baseball, football and volleyball games and to cheer competitions. We laugh, we cry, but most of all we love all six of our kids. We both truly love each other’s as if they were our own. I think the love and respect we show each other is the best thing that we do as parents.

Some people would like to think that lesbian households are not normal.  Let me tell you, my life is so normal now compared to what it used to be. My relationship with my husband was very dysfunctional and my children were raised in a home that the whole world saw as “normal”.  That was the farthest thing from the truth. Our family is what a family should be and I thank God that my children are now a part of a loving, safe home.

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4 Responses to “A Tale of Two Mommies”

  1. openyourmind333 November 2, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    I loved this post and am going to post a link to my post about same-sex marriage. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story!!!

  2. Jerry Linkhart (Portland Oregon) November 2, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    We learn through the examples set by others. Thank you

    • BioStep November 2, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      Love is what makes a family.

  3. Krista November 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    I loved the article. My son has three moms and a stepdad. My former partner and I have tried very hard to do the right thing for our child even though we ‘divorced’ when he was two. I went on to marry a man while my ex had a longterm relationship with a woman. We had some rocky times and there are still moments when tempers flare or buttons are pushed. But all-in-all, we are doing a much more amicable job of co-parenting than many of the heterosexual folks I know or have read about. It annoys me when I read that biomoms and stepmoms ‘naturally’ have troubles because we are women, and women fight. I think that’s a little insulting, not to mention inaccurate. Women can get along just fine; ask a lesbian! 🙂

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