A couple of months ago, we went to a LGBT family picnic organised in our local area. It was a beautiful summer’s day and we arrived laden with buggy, picnic rug, food, nappy bag and anticipation. We headed across the expanse of the grassy meadow and settled ourselves on our picnic rug under a big old tree. Joined by several other families, most of whom we had not met before, we tucked into our picnic and started chatting to the other parents. At two and a half, our daughter S was interested in the other children who ranged in age from babies to infant school age. After eating plenty of picnic snacks, S wandered off and started playing with the other children. It was lovely to watch her running around in the sunshine, making up new games and following the older children. Our baby, F, enjoyed smiling at everyone and being passed around for cuddles.
The picnic also gave A and I a chance to talk to couples we had not met before. Being a parent is hard enough, but being same sex parents adds an extra layer of complexity. Day to day, our lives are much the same as those of other families. We have the usual whinging when the telly goes off or when it’s time to put shoes on, it takes us forever to get out of the front door, and we’re permanently exhausted. But we are also acutely aware of making sure our girls are managing ok with the idea of having two mummies. S is only two, but already she has started talking about dads and has obviously noticed that she does not have one. Until now we have explained small details about her roots and how she was conceived, but at two years old she is only able to understand very simple concepts about her background. Over time we will add to her understanding of her history as and when she is ready, until she has the full picture.
I feel that it is important for her to meet other same sex families, to see that there are other families like hers, and that not everyone has a mummy and a daddy. We are also friends with single parents, and so she is learning that families come in many different forms. Over the last six months she has become closer to other children who have two mums, and I think this has helped her to see that some of her friends are just like her.
The picnic was a resounding success, and the adults seemed to have as much fun as the children. Before arriving at these engineered events I often wonder whether there will be anyone else there that I can truly relate to. In fact, another parent said at the picnic “these events can feel awkward; just because you’re all gay it doesn’t mean you will have anything else in common,” and I agreed. Luckily, everyone seemed to get on well and it was lovely to meet new families who seemed similar to our own. We have since enjoyed meeting up again with one couple and their children, and probably would not have become friends without the event. Building a small community of like-minded families is really important to us, so that our daughters feel normal and know that there are other children growing up in a similar family to theirs. I hope that this will help them both to grow up feeling accepted, and also to feel able to accept their own family and the way that they were created.
Let me know if you’ve been to a good family get together, I’m always keen to know what’s going on both locally and in other parts of the country.