After reading the title of my blog, mothering while queer, my oldest daughter asked, “Mom, why queer? Isn’t that, like, a mean, derogatory thing to call someone?”
This is my first child, born in 1983, a decade before my other two children, during a much different part of my mothering process. She relates differently to the term queer than the other two, born in 1990 and 1993. They’re all millennials, but their life experiences—and mine—over that 10-year period, make a big difference. A bit of queersplaining
I knew the term queer would make sphincters tighten for certain members of my demographic, regardless of sexual identity. But I deliberately chose queer because there are a couple of really important things for me to manifest: open heart, open mind. Queer represents growth on my part. And that’s a good thing! The younger millennials have reclaimed queer for us baby boomers, who took years to say lesbian in public without dropping our voices several notches.
Queer has definitely been used as a derogatory term. Still is. But I find it liberating to co-opt something that was once a slur and embrace it. Recently, I shared the title of my blog with one of my straight friends. I was completely caught off guard when she dissolved into laughter. While she was gasping for air, I debated whether to be offended or intrigued. I chose a little of both (both/and suits me much better than either/or). Turns out, in her day (she’s the previous generation to me), queer meant odd. I’m okay with that. I’ve always perceived myself to be a bit odd. She agreed.
Mothering While Queer
I chose mothering while queer for my blog title because it’s inclusive; a nice simple five-letter word to claim our mothering process—those of us not shaped to fit the sacred mantle that traditional society places on the shoulders of the heterosexual cisgender female.
The Big Question
I should probably ask my big question here and now. Not put it off any longer. Prepare y’all for what I plan to wrestle with in this blog. Ready?
How much does mothering rely on the possession of an operational uterus, or the biological cisgender female stereotype? Seems to me mothering is both a concept and an act, a way of extending love, however flawed. And for me, done while queer.
“The past is always in the present, and the present keeps moving on. Sometimes the raw materials of mothering get amplified, spilling into realms that we name politics, or activism, or historical change, or the defense of tradition.” Sarah Knotts, Mother is a Verb: An Unconventional History
Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Next time: It all started with racquetball…