Marriage and Kids Weren’t Part of My Plan, But Now They’re Key to My Fulfillment
Raising a child with a woman I call my wife was lightyears from what I imagined my fate might be at the turn of the new millennia. The landscape for me as a lesbian has changed so much in that time.
We are just a few breaths away from stepping into the second decade of the second millennia. There’s something about rounded numbers that makes us more contemplative and reflective. I suppose it makes sense. I never thought about living to the year 2020 in any concrete way. The year on its face feels more “Space Odyssey” than the alarm clock-driven, suburban mom gig I currently inhabit.
But when I think about where I was 20 years ago at the turn of the millennium, the thought of the life I am now living is stranger than science fiction. The landscape for me as a lesbian has changed so much in that time.
Two decades ago, I came out of the closet. I quickly chose to reject the minority victim status, even as I experienced overt and subtle moments of homophobia and exclusion. I embraced the so-called alternative lifestyle, believing I needed to be radical and wild and unconventional because all LGBTQ people were forced to live on the fringes. I told myself that’s the life I wanted. And I enjoyed it immensely. I didn’t have to play by the rules.
Marriage and kids were never a part of my equation. I didn’t want what everyone else had — conformity seemed like prison. I thought life’s worthy moments came in the form of all-night dance parties on Fire Island and bylines in the lesbian magazine. I told myself that everyone’s white picket fences were bars of a jail cell, that my rejection of those norms were guarantors of my freedom. I watched the weary moms chasing their toddlers down the street and imagined the longing they felt when they saw my coolness in the window of the bar sipping on a chilled martini, sidling up to the woman I was dating that week.
As the clock struck midnight at the turn of the century and millennium, I was facing down the barrel of a future that felt bohemian and unbridled. I was filled with tequila and pride.
There’s no way I could have guessed that two decades later I’d be the embodiment of what I always said I didn’t want to become.
The truth is, as I came to realize, part of my denunciation of “traditional” pursuits around marriage and kids, of owning a home and holding down a day job was precisely because society didn’t allow people like me to access those institutions. Rather than sit on the sidelines crying, I channeled the resentment into creative fuel and embraced the dark alleys and underground excitement of queer subculture.
I had zero clue that I would come to find complete fulfillment 20 years later coming home from my corporate job to my suburban home outfitted with my legal wife and our beautiful son.
Finding my soulmate was a true blessing. I happily traded in the anonymity of late nights and fuzzy morning memories for sober conversation and the distinct pleasure of laying down my head next to the most incredible person I had ever met night after night.
Getting to marry my wife was more radical and empowering than I ever thought. I had a good excuse — with the law behind me — to introduce her boldly as my wife without having to frantically search for the right word that was worthy of our love while placating the discomfort of the people in the room.
Becoming a mom was a feat so unpredictable to the 1999 version of me that it grounds me to my core. Growing a baby and raising it with a woman I call my wife was lightyears from what I imagined my fate might be at the turn of the new millennia.
But my profound pride for my little family brings me to tears.
Wearing my wedding ring and displaying my baby pictures on my desk at a job where I can be fully myself and provide for and protect my family is a true privilege that many take for granted. Living in a house in a community where we can safely walk down the street as a family unit and be greeted with the same warm expression that any opposite-sex family would is nothing short of a miracle.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t take back the exhilarating, diverse experiences I had for anything. They have shaped who I am, someone who constantly questions the status quo and wants to make the world more inclusive. I also would never shun those who are either forced to or choose to live on the fringes. I have simply walked in the footsteps of progress while I continue to fight for those who come after me.
Just the other day, I was chasing my toddler down the street in town when I passed a bar. I saw two young women in the window drinking cocktails and laughing with their full bodies, completely engrossed in one another and whatever they were talking about.
The first thought that popped into my head was, “I wouldn’t trade in all the happy hours, belly laughs and make-out sessions in the world for the love that I feel for this tiny human, our stunning family, and this beautiful little very normal and boring life.”