Sunday, May 8, 2016

What Mothering Day Means to Us

Today many of us queer families with parents who are non-binary may struggle with the word "mother" often used to describe us, the heteronormativity of the way this holiday is promoted, the question of what day celebrates us, and the (extra) misgendering we may face if we celebrate this holiday. In my family, we celebrate both myself, a non-binary parent, and my wife, a mom. It started with the tradition of celebrating both of us on Mothers' Day before I came out as non-binary. Am I a mother? Ermm...I am a parent. My parent name happens to be Mama. Do I mother? Very much so. Though Mothers' Day is the day we are sure to spend together and celebrate somehow, our kids tend to wish us a happy Fathers' Day as well, and sometimes give us cards, because we are the parents they have. We do "dad" stuff and "mom" stuff. It's silly, of course, how gendered aspects of parenting are.

Years ago, my wife and our two (the third was not born yet) children went to a Unitarian Universalist service on Mothers' Day. While I was aware that Unitarian Universalists claim to be an accepting and welcoming community, I was happily surprised by the sermon. The sermon was titled “Mothering is a Verb.” The minister told her own story of struggling to understand, and learning to accept that gender is a "spectrum." She spoke about different types of families, “some with two moms, some with two dads, some with a mom and a dad who used to be a mom." She spoke of Mothers' Day being about people (any gender) who are mothering, rather than about cis women who are mothers. Not only did I feel accepted as a queer family, but also I found myself pondering the ways others have been mothering to me, regardless of their gender identity. 

So this goes out to my mama, who has always shown me unconditional love, through all the happy times and all the hard times. This goes out to my wife--I am so lucky to be a coparent with such an amazing, kind, insightful, and loving woman. This goes out to all those who have mothered me in different ways and at different times--friends, aunts, grandparents, mentors. This goes out to all those who are missing their mothers (or mothering person), whether they have died, become estranged, been separated by prison, or borders. This goes out to mothers who have lost children for any of those reasons as well. This goes out to all the people who care for, nurture, teach, lead, and accept their friends and loved ones, especially when in the absence of a nurturing parent--it means so much. This goes out to those hurting today because they did not have a loving or caring mother. This goes out to non-binary parents, transgender parents, dad-only families, adoptive families who may have complicated feelings about the holiday. This goes out to struggling mothers and parents. This goes out to folks who long to mother. I wish all a peaceful mothers' day, whether you celebrate it or it's just another day.

This beautiful song is by Anohni (the name listed is her former band name).