Any job that requires you to be "on" 24/7 is hard. That is the role of a mum. Being a queer activist and performer also comes with its expectations. People do not imagine you being unfunny or being quiet and reading a book. There is the presumption you are on naturally 24/7.
So, when I became a Queer activist performing mum I don’t think I really realised what that meant or how I was going to navigate the many hats I wear without having a nervous breakdown. I’m not entirely sure it’s been successful but for the most part I think I keep my head above water.
Being a mum/parent is hard for anyone, there are so many considerations to factor in when making decisions that will inevitably shape your child’s future. Insert any of the following words in front: Queer/woke/feminist/progressive and you have added a whole other layer of mindfuckery for yourself. Having Frankie was the dream we never thought would be reality.
When we found out she was en route we had a glowing romantic notion that life would be like everyone else’s, we had experienced so much love and acceptance our self we imagined it would be the same with Frankie. And 90% of our parenting experience has been. But it’s the 10% that eats into your mental health as a parent isn’t it? Those little looks of confusion at both of us being her mum. The taxi drivers who want to know how you made a baby without a penis...but it's ok to ask because they are pro equality. Realising you're going to need to compromise your beliefs sometimes in order to allow your child to fit in. Discovering that you in fact may need to move house to ensure you get her into a school they don’t teach Adam and Eve is the only way. When one of her first words is daddy...and even though it is merely phonetically the easiest word to learn as a baby it still stings sometimes.
And then the wobbles of guilt kick in that she didn't ask for two mums. You did that to her. You made school a place that awkward questions will be asked. That Father’s Day becomes a confusion day. I let these thoughts swim in my brain for a long time now. Then I talked to my friends in heteronormative relationships about my fears and guilt and worries. They reminded me that yes we will face these challenges...but we also happen to be bringing up the future. A strong, loved and informed human with the capacity to understand her two mummies love her unconditionally. Something that many adults cannot fathom.
Life is a bit more complex as a Queer parent because we want to bring our child up as inclusive, progressive, informed and nurtured; but also, someone who understands not everyone is there yet. We can demand we are given our space in this world, but we can't expect everyone will want to share it. That is not how it is. I want to successfully bring her up knowing that this is other people’s issues to unpack not hers. I'm not sure how we will navigate schools in a year or two but in the meantime I can make sure she knows she is loved enough and has enough self-worth to deal with it. Besides, I have yet to find an adult with a heart that Frankie can't melt just by being her. She is the future and hope of the next generation. She is always enough, and I will make sure she knows that even when the world tries to impose its labels on her.
Words and images by Gemma Hutton