QUEER PARENTING PT 2

This is the second piece in a two part series where writer Camlyn explores motherhood and queerness through a conversation with her mother.

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a room full of women, and men seeking information about egg freezing. As I tiptoed in and sat myself cross legged on a couch in the back, I thought wow, this is a lot more people than I expected. My second thought was, wow, how would I explain this to my mom?

Growing up Latina, I had very contradicting views about life in general. I was convinced that I would have to seek acceptance for years on years if I ever decided to do something radical like, I don’t know, freeze my eggs. I’ve heard the family gossip, does she ever plan on getting married to have children? There’s this preconception that women have to be married (to a man) before planning motherhood. There has always been a sense of patriarchy with older generations of Latinos. The men come first in every situation yet girls aren’t allowed to use tampons as virgins or should I say “as ladies,” according to classic myths our mothers used to tell us. The conversation about what we do with our own bodies has always been up for debate.

Now I’m cross legged on my bed, thinking I should have this conversation with my mother. Explain my options to her but also dig deeper into understanding how she personally feels about my options. I went into this conversation very scared and anxious. I didn’t know if my mom would be apprehensive or uncomfortable, but I just jumped into it. It’s amazing how every day I learn that people evolve, people learn and can change their views on many beliefs - including our parents. A couple of years ago, this conversation could’ve gone a lot differently, and I’m so glad to say we’re here. #Growth

Here’s what mom had to say:

1. What does motherhood mean to you?

La maternidad para mi significa cambio de vida, crecimiento positivo. No se puede planificar siempre pero llega el momento indicado de tu vida que está emocionalmente preparada.

Motherhood, to me, means changes in life, growth, and positivity. You can’t always plan it but the time will come when you will feel emotionally ready.

2. What does being Dominican and Latina mean to you?

Mi nacionalidad me llena de orgullo ya que de allí son mis raíces. Nuestra cultura y costumbres me fascinan y es lo que me hace diferente donde quiera que llego es como un toque sabor perfecto.

My nationality makes me proud, that’s where I’m rooted. Our culture and customs are fascinating, and it’s what makes me different wherever I go. I feel no matter what room I walk into, I give it the perfect touch of flavor.

3. In a perfect world, what does parenting look like?

Paternidad uuf!!! Es una pregunta difícil de contestar para una madre soltera. Pero en mi mundo perfecto Paternidad es responsabilidad, compromiso y honestidad es más que ser proveedor es darle a tu familia más calidad de vida y de ti.

Parenting? Please! This is a difficult question to answer as a single mother. But in my perfect world, parenting is responsibility, compromise, and honesty. It’s more than just being a provider, it’s about giving your family the best possible life and the best possible you.

4. Being that you have a queer daughter, what did you envision motherhood to look like for her? Did it change over time?

Queer? Para mi eso significa una persona rara - y eso no es! Me imagino que la maternidad para mi hija sería algo muy especial ya que se que es uno de sus retos más grande de vida. Se que va ha ser una buena madre porque se que no le tiene miedo a los obstáculos. Pero si entiendo que podrá ser algo un poco complicado, así es la vida.  

Queer? To me that means weird or strange - that’s not my daughter. I imagine motherhood for my daughter to be something very special now that I’m understanding it is and can be one of the biggest challenges in her life. I know she’ll be a good mother because she’s never afraid of obstacles. I do understand it might be a little difficult, but that’s life.

5. Do you think being gay makes it harder for couples to have children? Why?

No, en absoluto. Pienso que las dificultades nos las ponemos nosotros mismo cuando vivimos para los demás. Solo hay que tener los deseos y saber lo que queremos y adónde vamos. Saber que un hijo es una responsabilidad no un deseo, nuestros hijos son quienes ellos van hacer, tenemos que estar listo para el cambio.

Not really. I think we create our own difficulties when we start to live for other people. All we have to do is set goals and know what we really want and where we want to go. Knowing that having children is a responsibility not just a wish, they will be who they want to be and all we can do is guide them - as parents we have to be ready for change.

6. Growing up Latina, what was the idea of gay parenting like? Did it exist?

Realmente nunca he pensado cómo puede ser. Pero ya mi pensamiento es que creo que lo mejor para un niño es crecer lleno de amor y buenos valores y eso es casi todo.

Honestly, I’ve never thought about it. But now, I just think a child needs to grow full of love and good values, and that’s all there is to it.

7. Was it difficult to understand and support your daughter on her ideas of having children? Why do you think it is difficult for some Latinos to accept this?

No, porque creo que ella tiene que vivir sus propios sueños y como adulta tiene la capacidad de hacer sus propias decisiones. Yo estaré aquí para apoyarla siempre en cualquier obstaculo que se le pueda presentar. Creo que para muchos Latinos es difícil aceptar la maternidad entre el mismo sexo por nuestros mitos, cultura y religión lo cual no permite a muchos de nosotros ser feliz plenamente como debería ser.

No, because I believe she has to live her own dreams and as an adult she has the capability to make her own decisions. I will always be here to support her through whichever obstacle. I think it’s difficult for Latinos to accept same sex parents because of our myths, culture and religion. It doesn’t allow many of us to be happy simply the way we deserve to be happy.

8. Are you afraid of what the rest of the Latino community will say if your daughter has a child with another woman?

No, no, no! Solo pienso en la felicidad de mi hija, y si un hijo es su felicidad que tenga dos!

Not at all! If having a baby makes her happy, then she should have two!

9. What does it mean culturally for you? Do you feel that times are changing in a positive way for all cultures? Just Latinos?

Yo creo que la cultura es una combinación de nuestras costumbres y estos esta evolucionando para el mundo entero no solo para los Latinos. Pienso que el cambio es positivo y negativo depende la persona ya que muchos no quieren cambiar ni aceptar que los tiempos son diferentes.

I think our culture is a combination of all of our habits and that can evolve, and it is evolving for the whole world, not only Latinos. I think it can be positive and negative depending on the person, but there are a lot of people who have difficulties accepting that times are changing.

10. Do you look forward to being a grandmother? What kinds of lessons will you pass down to them?

Es mi mayor sueño en esta etapa de mi vida! Yo tuve a mi reina muy joven y cometí mucho errores como madre, habÍa muchas lecciones que aprender. Pero ahora, siento que crecí como persona y tengo más conocimiento y perspectiva que darle a mis nietos - tengo tanto amor, valores y costumbre sin tener que ser tan old fashion grandma!

That’s my greatest wish at this stage in my life! I had my daughter very young and I made a lot of mistakes as a mother, there were a lot of lessons learned. But now, I feel like I’ve grown as a person and I have much more knowledge and perspective to give my future grandchildren- I have much more love, new values, and culture that I don’t need to be an old fashioned grandma!


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Camlyn Valdez

is a TGM Contributor from NYC you can find wrapped in a blanket burrito, show binging all winter, pretending to be a Latina Carrie Bradshaw, and probably the only person alive racing to the news stands for new magazines.