October 9, 2013 | by Staff reports
On being a parent
Ryanne Barstow, Rainbow Families, gay news, Washington Blade

Ryanne Barstow with her two moms. (Photo courtesy of the family)

By LESLIE PIONKE

After a year of yearning, hoping, and despairing, the universe said yes, and at age 60, I was granted the gift of a child. My partner gave birth to Ryanne.

We are two oldest daughters from all-girl families, responsible voters, former Girl Scouts, singers in the choir, doting aunts, but lesbians. Though the world may have questioned our right to have a family, our own families were thrilled since we both have favored places in their hearts. We were given five baby showers by friends and family preparing for Ryanne’s birth.

Ryanne was born and from the first moment to this, she has been more wonderful than either of us could have imagined. OK, she is crabby in the morning, she is willful, and we both have passed the million mark saying NO.

She has changed our lives, but, really, we were ready. Between the two of us, we had physical courage, songs, good cooking, family traditions, a linguistic gift, an artistic bent and hopes for humanity, all things we wanted to share with Ryanne.

After heated discussions, my partner agreed to an anonymous donor, artificial insemination. She had thought of old boyfriends, questionable relatives, even married friends. All those options would complicate our family. Our choice, however, meant Ryanne would not know her father. This has been a loss for her.

After meeting Ryanne as a toddler, a close friend said “You chose the right donor.” We both know that was luck. At age four, Ryanne herself noted “All animals have fathers, but I don’t.” Not having a father is a lament she still expresses from time to time. We are hoping that our love and the life we have given her will be enough for her to sail that ocean of doubt and imaginings.

Though we both have families to the max, and we live on Capitol Hill, an accepting community, we value our gay community for ourselves and for Ryanne.

We met in a gay choir, and have kept friendships in song (and dance) for the last 17 years. We also participated in a gay support group waiting for Ryanne and continue to see these friends and their children. Ryanne has said that it’s good to know kids with two moms and two dads. Kids, moms, and dads who are just like everybody else, and are a lot of fun besides.

I am truly grateful I have had the chance to be a mother to our child. In my family, having a baby is seen as the great gift. My worries now are “parent” worries. Are we too lenient? Are we taking homework seriously enough? Does she have space enough to be herself? How do we prepare her for the slings and arrows? But worries aside, when we see her dashing across the playground or listen to her chattering in the back seat of the car, it is clear Ryanne’s enjoying being a kid.

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