Lewis Listens: Four Same-Sex Couples on Parenting

Someone recently said to us: “be interested not interesting.” The last four years, we’ve worked to share our voices and tell our stories, but the last several months have taught us that this is meaningless if we’re not also listening. We’re surrounded by an amazing diverse community both near (like the friends and family in today's interview series) and far (inspiration that feeds our eyeballs from all corners of the globe), that we’ve decided to tap into all of the above for our (and your!) benefit and growth.

Today, in celebration of Pride, we're sharing some thoughts from four sets of same-sex parents–what they've learned from their own parents, something surprising about parenting, what they hope for their children, and what it's like to have experienced being the birthing parent + non-birthing parent.   

Family photo of married couple, Justine and her wife, with their four children.

"I hope my children can figure out how to be their authentic selves early on- and then be that person unapologetically. As a young queer person and a young feminist, I found it hard, at times, to make space for my voice and perspective. I deeply appreciate how hard it can be to find your place, but I hope our encouragement of them helps them make their way more easily. I also hope they always have their sense of justice and fairness."

– Justine Markus Sullivan, Brooklyn, NY

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A gay dad holds both of his twin babies in his arms, standing in a grassy park in front of a lake.

"I have always wanted to be a parent, but even though I have nine nieces and nephews, I don't think I had ever changed a diaper. I came to parenting, twins at that, with a wait-and-see approach. I knew it would be a ton of work, I read a few books and knew I would figure it all out. Now that they are four months, I would say I was more scared than I should have been! I would venture to say it's easier than expected, at least in the first few months!"

– John Scott Johnson, Brooklyn, NY

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Family photo of Jen, her wife Liz, and their two young children, on a camping trip.

"Having been on both sides of the birthing process–being Liz’s support with Sage (our first) and then being pregnant with Dakota (our second) myself–both sides are hard. Both sides are so joyous. 

The birthing process: Liz says that it was way more intense watching me give birth than going through labor herself. Looking back, I had ZERO idea what Liz was going through even though I was right by her side for those 35 hours of labor. Holy moly–two hours into labor myself, and I was giggling at what I could not have imagined was happening for her. It was humbling to say the least. In the early months, both of us experienced feelings of helplessness as the non-birthing parent. It is just hard to not be able to sooth, meet baby’s needs, and have your partner's energy strongly diverted elsewhere. Once I experienced life as the birth parent, I was quickly able to offer a deep apology for my challenges and ego in the early months of Sage's life. Again, so humbling."

– Jen Sall, Lander, WY

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Black and white photo of smiling fathers, Kwesi and Jackson, with their young son, taking a selfie at home.

"My mother always pushed me to celebrate. She taught me to actively pursue my own joy. I'll never forget her telling me that life wasn't just going to provide me joy, I had to go out and find it. She taught me to celebrate a sunset, a good play in a soccer game, a new puzzle completed, a hard-earned graduation. She modeled for me that each day was an opportunity to pursue boundless joy and then revel in it and celebrate life. Loving life was not always easy for her and her home had not  been a home that fostered celebration so she wanted to make sure we went through life filled with joy and excitement. Since we first became parents, Kwesi and I vowed to bring celebration and joy into Anderson's life each and every day."

– Jackson Shafer, Brooklyn, NY

 

6 comments

“… feelings of helplessness as the non-birthing parent. It is just hard to not be able to sooth, meet baby’s needs, and have your partner’s energy strongly diverted elsewhere.”

👆🏽 THIS!!

AK July 04, 2020

Beautiful families. So much love.

“Life wasn’t just going to provide me with joy, I had to go out and find it.” Love this.

Kate July 02, 2020

Gorgeous. Thank you so much for that! I loved every word.

Marlot July 02, 2020

Beautiful stories and great to see my nephews up there. xo

Anna Hardwick June 30, 2020

You guys never cease to amaze! Xoxo

Auntie El

Ellen sall June 30, 2020

Such beautiful words and families/faces I love. Thank you for the gift of hearing these voices. Love you both so much. xo

Kathryn S Maloy June 30, 2020

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