Mommy and Momma
I don’t know if there is a better way to examine or understand the true breadth or depth of one’s own open-mindedness other than by actually immersing in situations that are not “normal” to one. (As a small but significant digression, the dictionary defines this commonly used word as such: (a) “according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle,” (b) conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.” Ah, so being normal is all about conformance!) Recently I was immersed in one such not-so-normal situation in my travels over the July 4 holiday. I was in a little cabin on a little island called Halibut Cove, a ferry-ride away from a little fishing town called Homer, in the not-so-little state of Alaska. And I was house-guest to a couple with a lovely little 2-1/2 year-old boy who called his parents Mommy and Momma.
As my unaccustomed and therefore somewhat awkward self watched, Momma changed diapers while Mommy fixed the little boy his mid-day snack. Sometimes Momma played watchful parent while Mommy visited with guests, and sometimes it was the other way around. Momma put the little boy down for his afternoon nap, and Mommy cradled him lovingly when he woke up in a meltdown, startled and discombobulated. Throughout the idyllic day in which we took strolls on the beach, went mussel harvesting for lunch, attended the annual July 4th picnic in the afternoon, and went kayaking in the early evening, Mommy and Momma continued the delicately balanced dance of parenting – sharing child-watching responsibilities, providing affection, disciplining and decision making. The little boy pranced about in pure joy, bouncing between Mommy and Momma, inclined towards one or another depending on his need at-hand or mood, and simply looked like a little angel in pure bliss. Every so often, we ran into some island neighbor or another (-the population of the island swells to a whopping 150 over the summer and is down to 18 people in the winter!-), and the little boy seemed to delight and be delighted by one and all. He appeared to have several male idols around to look up to – one who gave him a ride on a 4-wheeler, another who let him play with a dummy drill and screw-driver, and yet another who showed him how he was treasure-hunting on the coast. I sensed that Mommy and Momma had sensitively cultivated meaningful relationships that brought male influences into their little boy’s life. By the end of the day, the glove that had seemed new and awkward in the morning began to fit comfortably on my hand, as if I had always owned and worn it.
Of course I have known about same-sex couples raising children for a long time. And while I have always felt fully comfortable with and enthusiastically supportive of same-sex relationships, (even taking delight in Seattle’s unabashed and unapologetic Gay Pride Parade), I realized that I hadn’t been quite sure of how same-sex relationships translated to parenting. And I could never have truly known how I would respond to such a thing until I actually experienced it. I was poignantly aware of myself move from mild discomfort and skepticism to surprise, delight and amazement. Through spending one full Alaska summer day with Mommy and Momma and their delightful toddler, I became convinced that children just need love, protection, nurturing and a thoughtful balance of influences and perspectives, no matter where these come from.
I had met Nancy – Mommy – on my milestone trip to Peru to trek in Machu Picchu last December. We had become good friends over the 10-day trip, and especially on the 5 days of trekking during which we swapped life stories at the dreamy camp sites nestled in the rugged Andes mountains. At the end of the trip, she had invited me to visit her, her partner and little boy in Alaska. It had been my dream to travel to Alaska, and I was thrilled beyond words to have a welcoming home to visit. And liking Nancy as much as I did, I was doubly delighted that I would have a glimpse of her life. Of course Machu Picchu was transformational. But little did I know that I would return just as significantly changed from my visit to Nancy’s – changed not only by the raw, haunting beauty of Alaska, but also by one of the best examples of non-conforming shared-parenting I have ever seen.
Last 5 posts by Shahana Dattagupta
- On Mother's Day: A house for my parents - May 9th, 2010
- Thank you to Bloggermoms reviewers of Ten Avatars - April 25th, 2010
- What's your hotpocket? - April 15th, 2010
- My journey of writing ... to publishing - Emotions - March 1st, 2010
- My journey of writing ... to publishing - Inspirations - February 22nd, 2010