A Picture Book with a Two-Mom Ottawa Family

by Stephanie Kain

We live next door.
No need to be scared—we’re good parents, just like you. We two-mom families spend Saturdays in our pyjamas, and divide our weekday mornings between reading board books to our squirming babies, and vacuuming ground-up Cheerios from between couch cushions. We go to the park. We love our kids.
You bet we love our kids; after all the trouble we had to go through to welcome our kids into our families, we treasure them. Downright adore them. (Most of the time!)
We go to playgroups—sometimes.
Actually, we force ourselves to go to playgroups because we know it’s good for our children’s socialisation. We do our best to ignore the sidelong looks and grimaces from other parents. When their children approaches ours, we try and overlook the way some mothers freeze, hesitate, then check themselves, as though they wonder whether being gay is secretly contagious—and if it were, how they might react to their own child catching it.
We sing “Mommy and Daddy” songs at library time, quietly substituting “Mama” for “Daddy” in all the right places, knowing that one day, the babies will notice that their family isn’t included in any of these songs, but thanking the stars above that today isn’t the day.
After circle time is over, we scour the library bookshelves for picture books with two-mom families like ours, even though we know we’re unlikely to find much.
We worry about our kids starting new activities, new schools, new anything —because it means ‘coming out’ again. Hurdling the assumptions again. Answering the shouldn’t-be-asked questions, and smiling back at the furrowed brows, the confused looks.
Sometimes, we get tired. Mostly, we smile anyway. But I imagine how much nicer a time we’d have at playgroups if LGBT families were included in baby-time songs, and in children’s picture books. Rainbow kids would be able to find themselves in stores, in their classroom’s book collection, on display in the kids’ nook at their local library.

“… Imagine how much nicer a time we’d have at playgroups if LGBT families were included in baby-time songs, and in children’s picture books.”

As an author, I have the chance to narrow the gap between ‘alternative’ and ‘family’ so that one day, everyone will recognise that ‘alternative’ families are really just families.

As a mother, I dread my daughter being bullied on the playground—words like ‘lezzie’ or ‘queer’ used against her because of who her mothers are. I can’t fight her battles there; I can only give her tools of education and diplomacy, and teach her how to use them.

But can anyone blame me for wanting to give her something concrete to put in her toolbox? Something that will lessen the sting of hateful words? To perhaps change the mind of the would-be bully before s/he decides that our daughter’s family structure is something to ridicule?

Could something as simple as a picture book be enough? Just a little picture book, showing a normal two-parent family that happens to consist of two moms?
I think so.
Books introduce new ideas. They introduce life-changing concepts into the public vocabulary. Emlyn and the Gremlin is unique because it focuses on the adventures of the child—the child who happens to come from a two- mom family. It’s something that can be read in circle time at school, or at bedtime, in any family. A short foray into diversity.
It’s just a book.
But books change the world.
Is that enough? I hope so. In fact, as a mom to a precious, sensitive, trusting little girl, I’m counting on it.

Ottawa’s Stephanie Kain is the author of Emlyn and the Gremlin, which was launched July 20, 2014. See www.StevieMikayne.com.

Stephanie Kain is an Ottawa mom and an author.


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