The great divide.

We are part of a facebook group for local LGBTQ parents that has a meetup once a month. The activity/venue changes and based on whether or not it seems age appropriate we try to go to as many as we can. Yesterday was September’s meetup – a clothing swap at a park, and we went.

It was kind of an awkward day. We knew most of the people there but felt really out of place. I’ve realized that interesting divides takes place in our little community. The first is based on age. That’s par for the course – a lot of the events are really catered towards older kids and I think that parents tend to stick with the age group their kids are in. There is one woman who I see at most events and I have seen at other gatherings that I have never really talked to because she has older kids. This idea of grouping by age is both something that I didn’t expect about parenting groups and something that makes total sense.

The other big divide I have noticed is between adoptive families and non adoptive families. Our group is split about half and half but I think the events tend to have more adoptive families. I don’t think that this divide is there on purpose, just something that happens naturally. I think it is something mainly done by adoptive families (but I am on the other side so of course I think that) but it makes sense. While we all have parenting in common adoptive families have additional joys and challenges that I don’t get. Again, it is something that I didn’t expect but something that makes total sense.

It’s interesting to think about these things that divide us. I talk a lot about my friend B (a non lesbian) about how I prefer the company of lesbians. It was a strange thing to her at first but she gets it as we talk about it now. I think of what she would say to me in this situation: “Well you understand. You like people that share you life experiences.” And I do. But it makes me wonder where our parenting home – our tribe – is. I don’t feel like it’s with straight families and yet in the LGBTQ group I don’t feel totally welcome. We’ll still go to events (although after yesterday I might miss more than I make) and still look for a home within this community it’s just an interesting dynamic.

Tell me about your tribes. Do you have a parenting tribe of families that you love? Do those families look like yours? Do you notice these same divides in your communities?

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Posted on September 13, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. We don’t have a tribe. Not yet, anyway. I’m kind of intimidated by LA lesbians. It feels like they’re mostly straight out of the L Word, and that is so not us. But that’s also me making unfair sweeping generalizations. I wonder if I can find a local group for lesbian homebody introverts with messy hair and no makeup. That’d be the group for me.

  2. Aww I wished we lived closer! I have tried many lgbt meetups, and like you felt there was a huge age difference. It makes a difference when their children are 9-14, and ours are five and under. I admit, I gave up after the few attempts. That was years ago. Maybe I’ll try against

    • It sucks to give up but I feel ya. There are a few younger kids in our group which is nice but the activities are all older geared and when I tried to plan a everyone geared (private rental of a pool) I was shot down. I need to stop being awkward and try to build friendships with the younger families- one is already our good friends.

  3. That’s an interesting question. If you’re thinking about a sort of ready made community like a parenting group or church or something, then no, we don’t have anything like that going on. Finding our group has been a little hard since our pre kid friends are either kidless and hanging out just doesn’t work anymore, or their kids are old enough to be graduating high school and they are reveling in their newly kidless lives. We have been able to piece together a cool friend circle from coworkers and families I babysat for. Our family friends either have kids that are roughly the same age as us, or they have similar parenting styles so their kids don’t annoy us. We have found that having similar parenting styles is maybe the most important criteria when looking for family friends. It’s hard to hang out with people who you spend all your time judging or whose kids annoy the crap out of you.

  4. I’ve never felt welcome by the lesbian community as a whole, not even when I was single- so I don’t really have many LGBTQ friends. My tribe is straight parents- mostly baby to age 3, but if some non-straight parents come into my life that’d be cool too. I don’t know why I don’t fit in the lesbian community; I cared more when I was single for obvious reasons, but now I only care in the sense that it’d be cool if Brian knew other families like ours. There is plenty of time for that though. It’s mostly introvert issues I’m sure.

  5. We’re just starting to reach out in search of our lesbian mom tribe. When R was a baby, we were pretty lazy about it or just too exhausted to do anything about it, I think. And then W was born less than a year later, so more of the same for that year. It didn’t start to feel like a pressing issue to us until R became verbal. I’m not sure why, but when our kids were suddenly fully communicative little people, we were struck by the “oh shit” moment where we realized that almost all of our friends with kids are straight and only two of our lesbian friend couples have kids, one that recently moved 6 hours away and the other that we’re more acquaintance-friends with rather than “we have lots in common and love each other” friends.

    So now we are scouting around, trying to find a group similar to Molly’s description – a local group for lesbian homebody introverts with messy hair and no makeup. With a slight preference for lesbians/queers who are feminists who own it, who are at least a little androgynous/queer/dykey in their style, and who don’t push traditional gender roles/appearances on their kids. Or hit their kids. Or smoke, because unfortunately I’m super sensitive to it. Oh, and who are not obsessed with football, which is a tall order in these parts.

    So in short, we haven’t found our lesbian mom tribe yet because we are too a)lazy, b)introverted, and c)picky.

  6. I have a great tribe–all mom/dad families though I know a few of them are bi–but they are actually my wife’s tribe that she found through postpartum connections. I regularly feel like an outsider despite adoring 90% of the people in it and finding them nothing but welcoming to me. Their kids are about the same age as our older kid (plus younger siblings of various ages). I have a half-conceptualized post all about my complex feelings regarding this group, especially in relation to our second child and my having been the one to carry and birth her.

    We also have one-off/in-passing friendships with a few two-mom families and see others at occasional queer family meet-ups. They are generally like us in terms of lifestyle–living the heterosexual stereotype except both parents happen to be women–rather than queer activists/denizens of “the scene.” We seek these acquaintances/friendships out and cultivate them for both their own sake and the purpose of “families like ours” visibility for our kids, but they are not our tribe.

    • Also a cohort of friends with kids with whom we were friends before any of us had kids. These are also one-off friendships–not a tribe, but definitely members of our village.

    • There is this one family that I family crush on so hard that sounds a lot like your passing friendships. It’s so hard to make that jump to actual friends though! I’m excited to read this half-conceptualized post! It’s hard for us with straight friends – I think it will be easier as Gus gets older but Lesley doesn’t fit in with the dads (Who talk about porn and sports) but feels a bit out of place with the moms, especially in the early breastfeeding dads.

  7. My tribe is all lesbians, mostly lesbian families. I don’t really have many straight friends at all. In fact, my straight friends are pretty much “friends” from high school, or family!

  8. My oldest tribe is a group of really great, supportive moms from the hospital new mom group. All our oldest kids are the same age, within a few months. We get together for a mom dinner once a month. We don’t even do a ton anymore with the kids, at least I don’t because I work and only have her half the time.

    A lot of them a stay at home moms so sometimes it’s hard to get together or relate as much being a working mom. I also am the first to get divorced and become a single mom so that’s hard too. They never say anything but supportive loving things but I sense of discomfort (if this can happen to Kim it can happen to anybody) and maybe a touch of jealousy of all my free time/travel/dating adventures. They have never ever said anything and have been noting but supportive, but I see the glances, and I see the shifting in the seats and eyes looking away at times. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

    I’ve started building an alternative tribe of divorces/single parent friends, both men and women. I find I have more in common with them. I think divorced people are so great, helpful, generous, thoughtful, flexible, and I’m happy to have met them. I’m lucky to have connected to so many people.

    • The stay at home mom thing is so hard. We are the only family we know who has both parents working full time/year round/M-F jobs (We know a few where one parent was a teacher so was just off and a few where one is a nurse so works a few long days and has week days off). I feel like everyone has this time to build relationships that we just don’t have. I can see how it would be hard with being the first one divorced, too. I think that the new group of divorces/single parent friends sounds rad. I mean, there is a lot to be said for being with people who get what your life is like.

      • It’s funny because with divorced friends you have to make sure your weekends align so you can either get together with kids or without. I have one dad friend and we used to do play date/fried chicken dates all the time until our weekends got flipped and I don’t think I’ve seen him since except in passing out and about. It’s sad. I miss him. He made me laugh so hard.

  9. We actually have a really great group of friend that are all foster parents. Since we didn’t have any kids before Mary, we didn’t really have to make an friends with other parents. But with Mary, we had so many meetings, and so may trainings, that we became friends with so many foster parents. i found it interesting that the parents in your group were mostly split into foster/adoptive families. We are THOSE people, unfortunately. Not on purpose, it just happened that way. So lots of the families that we hang out with have kids either Mary’s age, or the boys age. We see each other pretty often since they do a lot of activities for the kids as well, and since these kids go through enough transitions, whenever one of us goes on vacation (since foster children can only stay in other certified foster homes) it’s nice to have people that you can leave your kids with and not feel like a terrible parent.

    • I don’t think it is bad for all the foster/adoptive families to bond and totally see the benefit! But it’s just one more sign that this group I was optimistic about may not be the group for us. All the conversation there was about foster care and recruiting more families to foster care ect ect. It’s just not what we are doing.

      • Yeah, I hear that. It can be a little isolating. The other thing that we found with some of the LGBT parent groups in our area is the age difference with US, the parents! There seem to be a lot more older gay dads in our area. Like early 50’s. And venturing out to NYC for the Lesbian Mom groups is a mission with 3 kids on the train, or an arm and a leg for parking our SUV.

      • Oh word. Yeah, we’re on the younger side here, too (31 and 32- which is not super young!) and talked about how that seems to play into it a bit, too.

      • Yeah, same with us… 32 and 34, and in the gay parenting world, that’s like infancy. But i think our generation is really out there making it happen. A lot of our friends are jumping on the baby band wagon, so it’s gonna be pretty cool to have all our kids together soon.

  10. Our tribe is basically all of my wife’s friends from high school. They are a group of 6 ladies and now familes who have been friends for 15+ years. There are 2 other 2 mommy families in the group so that is a good example for our kids to see. It is hard for me sometimes though as I married into this group. No one has ever treated me differently but that history is just not there. We have joined a twins group and that is enjoyable but a big part of them are stay at home moms and have play dates at 10 am on a week day which we can not attend since we both work. I would love to find a group that we both join together and both find people we connect with.

  11. We don’t have much of a tribe. We have family members with kids and I have some friends from high school that I reconnected with who have kids too but haven’t connected with any moms on the area whose kids are the same age as Bumbi really. We go to mommy and me classes but they are cliquey.

  12. I’m part of a mom’s group and they have meetings, but it’s mostly for stay at home moms, so since I work, it’s not feasible for me to get to most events. SO , we don’t really have a tribe. Of course, we are the only non-religious, lesbian family in the group, so it’s a bit different, but we haven’t had any trouble, just my anxiety and/or work that makes it difficult to actually participate. I definitely see the same kinds of divides though, when I do attend. Age groups of kids/stay at home vs working mom/crunchy vs non-crunchy moms LOL

  13. What about getting a weekly under 3 playgroup going with the LGBTQ group? Or finding one that is with a different local group? I was part of a facebook group in Chicago for moms in my neighborhood. I was the only person who was single and the only low income. There were a few other lesbian moms but it was 99% straight, white, and upper middle income range. The LGBT parenting group wasn’t local enough for me to make it to events. I tried to get to babywearing meetings and I loved that group. I also made it to LLL a couple times.

    • Just coming back to replying. 🙂 We have a group that we did an infant class with and will do a one year old class with in January. It’s a good group so that will restart. Some of the younger families from our LGBT group do stuff together – we missed a play date this weekend because we misunderstood. I also need to be better about putting myself out there and organizing things.

  14. My worry is being able to build a “tribe” with enough people who aren’t “just like us.” We look white heteronormative, but we’re not. I’m bi, David is multi racial, and him being first gen American, our family is also multicultural. Nobody can really tell that at first glance, and we often joke that David is “off white.” But I don’t want Geronimo to grow up with the homogenous community that I did. I want a tribe that’s educated and interesting, but different.

    • That’s so hard! And how do you approach that with people? “You know, my husband is not white.” “You know, I’m not straight.” When you pass as something you are not it’s hard to find people like you. There’s always talk in the lesbian mom community about just following the other lesbian moms around Market of Choice until you find friends. I want friends that are like us and that aren’t – I totally see your struggle.

  15. I’m late here, but we just went to a LGBT parenting activity this weekend so it’s on my mind. What we take away after each activity that we attend is that we have NOTHING in common with these people. Our group is the opposite, people with older kids tend to stop coming. So, it’s nice that their are kids close the M’s age right now. We really stay connected to the group so that our kids will have that community if and when they want or need it. I jokingly told J that if we moved to Seattle or Portland we might meet other lesbian couples with kids that we have more in common with. It’s hard though, I feel like I have all these separate groups’ our friends, families with similar parenting style, and then the LGBT group. I just want one group that is all 3, haha.

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