Speakers: Harlyn Aizley and Hillary Goodridge
Prepared for UUA.org by Mike McNaughton, Reporter; Jone Johnson Lewis, Editor.
Where is the guidebook for non-biological lesbian mothers? There are books that chart the hazards, legal pitfalls, and complications faced many non traditional families, but the emotional hazards faced by a non-biological lesbian mother were uncharted until the recent publication of Confessions of the Other Mother: Non-biological Lesbian Moms Tell All, a new book edited by Harlyn Aizley and published by Beacon Press.
Aizley described how she navigated the uncharted waters of biological surprises and unexpected feelings after she gave birth, and she and her partner worked to understand the roles of two mothers in their child's life. There are many books about motherhood, but not about other-motherhood.
So she assembled and edited a book of personal stories by the women who are creating these new parenting roles, as family structures change in the 21 st century. The result is a book of well-written, funny, insightful, and moving stories that describe what it feels like to be the other mother. Aizley wanted to include it all: rage, pain, and joy. She acknowledged there is a fear among those attempting such non-traditional parenting roles that "If we admit any difficulty, someone will say: 'I told you so.'" Nevertheless, these stories tell all, and as a result they are often painfully honest.
Harlyn Aizley and author Hillary Goodridge alternately read and discussed these stories to a rapt audience. Often, the stories wrestle with presumptive language, such as in the confessions of a lesbian dad who was not comfortable with being called a "mother" and wondered whether "dyke daddy" would suit her better.
Is there anything special about being the biological mother rather than the other mother? Do nine months of pregnancy and many hours of labor confer anything special on one mother? The workshop participants did not know the answer, but all agreed that this groundbreaking book provides a basis for discussion and deeper understanding.