My lesbian parenting group doesn’t have any male parents – not gay men, not transmen, nobody who looks at anybody else and thinks “boy” instead of “slightly butch.” The social network updates and emails are all addressed to “mamas,” which not only excludes fathers, but Innies and Outties. Why bother calling the group “rainbow” anything or “queer” this and that, when it’s so clearly just those who consider themselves mothers? A surface level attempt to be inclusive pretty much just leaves anyone but moms in the lurch when we arrive. Not that I can’t hang out with all lesbians, but the parenting group specifically for lesbians – where I overhead the term “has-bian” more than once, in reference to other queers who were not in attendance – feels more honest about who they feel comfortable interacting with.
Not that the “rainbow” and “queer” groups haven’t expended as much energy as they can spare to invite fathers and other types of parental figures to join them – energy budgets are extremely tight when almost every drop of get-up-and-go is focused on the kids in the house. In parenting circles, just like in most bars and drag shows, it is really, really difficult to get an evenly mixed crowd of …. ANY kind of diversity, ever: age, gender, race or otherwise. I have attended the fathers’ groups and they aren’t doing much better on the we’re-not-all-the-same front. I have begged the gay fathers’ group to join with the lesbian moms’ group to march in the Pride parade or to picnic in summer parks with or wee ones. But we can’t get it all together to share interest or time.
When it’s not that we don’t culturally appreciate the same activities – are potlucks not universal??? – it’s that our scheduling is different. Apparently, everybody guards their Mother and Father’s Day activities with steal poles, and they do not want to combine with a group that doesn’t have the same holiday calendar. Even within groups, time available dictates attendance. The lesbian parents who are available on weekends are not the same lesbians who meet up at the park every Tuesday, and within the day of the week challenge is the age-of-progeny challenge. If each parent sitting around the toy box can’t speak about roughly the same realm of developmental feats, that it’s unlikely that nap times and the ability to share, trade or not choke on each others toys fits very well either.
Finding other parents and kids to hang out with is just as hard as dating prospective mates. There are infinite factors that could clash – everything from taste and style to work schedule and neighborhood affiliation. And then is it mutual? I have found a parent friend who is just as dark, silly, thoughtful and artsy as I am, with an acceptably aged and tempered child, but we’re both going through hard family transitions, so finding time for dates is difficult. And what if I show too much interest? Or too little? Or give her child a head cold because I didn’t skip a play date that I should have?
I wish I could just stick with my existing friends, who personalities perfectly suit mine. I dream that they could just come over to my house and hang out while we have dinner and I put my kid to bed. Or we could meet on a carefully scheduled evening to indulge in our favorite hobbies together. But I have been released from their care.
They don’t have kids, so they are now, abruptly light years younger than I am. They can drink whenever they want to, go out whenever they want to, and live a far more footloose lifestyle than I can. They have time to brush their hair and teeth. They don’t want to talk about poop and teething. They have extra income to spare and are planning wine-tasting getaways with others just like themselves – carefree young adults who don’t have to bother getting a babysitter, discussing nap times or working things through with an equally cooped-up co-parent.
Though full of delicious offspring love, parenthood can be isolating and monotonous, and there might not be any modern way around it. Maybe I’ll go old school and go live with my mom, and then make my Alien’s brood do the same. Or join a commune, a nice friendly cult. To be with people just like me. Doh!
The only other tool against lonely homogeneity seems to be to travel constantly – see the world, eat amazing food, get malaria and ensure that my kids hate me for not settling down. I guess we better all just hike up our mom jeans and get on with our boring, stable routines. I will see the lesbian group once a month, the other vaguely-disguised lesbian group on Tuesdays, the other-other pretty-much-lesbians group some Saturdays and my straight parent friends when my schedule and temperament allows and my carefree childless friends never. Nobody can spend the last drops of a dead battery forcing themselves outside of their easiest-possible grouping – not even me.