There’s something profoundly freeing when you start to figure out who you are and want to be. For me, it was painfully obvious because once I allowed myself to explore my identity, I swear hundreds of pounds were lifted from my shoulders. It was as if I was slowly shedding all of the Lindseys that I had tried to be in my past, getting down to my core. I started writing again because I was excited to tell queer stories. I embraced my interests — baking, gaming, anime, etc. — despite feeling like I was getting into them way too late. I took big steps towards living the life I wanted to be living.
And then I got pregnant.
There can be expectations placed on kids in the LGBTI community and what your life will look like as you move through it, especially for those raised in more traditional, religious, or conservative households. It took me years to break free from the rules that had been strictly enforced on my life, and it felt as if I had been thrust back onto the traditional path that I thought I had managed to escape. Friends and family started calling me a mom and asking about my plans to stay home once the baby was born. I could feel myself taking on a new Lindsey identity and fitting it over the one I had worked so hard to dig down to.
I was figuring out my identity, specifically, being nonbinary right around the time I found out I was pregnant. I had recently changed my pronouns to they/them, and becoming a mom just really drove home how much I didn’t feel comfortable being placed into a gender binary. When we found out our baby was going to be a boy, people would ask if I was ready to be a “boy mom.” Honestly, I felt more like a Mom Boy (I already got those dad jokes, though).
I had no examples or role models of queer people in my life who had become parents, so it didn’t really feel doable. I attempted to shift back to how I was after I re-closeted. But it was different.
I experienced what it was like to be myself, and I wanted to keep doing that. So here we are. Trying to figure out what it means to be bi and nonbinary on top of being a parent. Sometimes my sensitivity was glaringly obvious, and I would get upset when anyone bought my baby anything blue or with trucks on it. Other times, it was quiet and internal and frustrating.
My sexuality and identity felt like they had been separated and disconnected from my body. I was living this life as a mom and wife surrounded by my family (who I am still VERY closeted around), but in my mind, I was still me. How I felt hadn’t changed. But it definitely didn’t feel like my thoughts and feelings matched how I was presenting. I wanted to present authentically, and how could I now?
After battling some intense postpartum depression (my heart goes out to any person who has had to deal with PPD), I restarted therapy. I am starting to piece myself and my identity back together. I’m sure it won’t be a quick and easy process, but I have hope. I am finding and reclaiming pieces every day. I have started writing again after a drought of ideas and a fear of telling queer stories I had no right to. I am trying to allow myself to play video games and watch anime and take time out of my week to bake like before and not feel weighed down by the guilt of my own enjoyment. It should come as no surprise to anyone that by embracing and caring for myself again, I became a better parent.
And while parenthood definitely deserves to be celebrated (I have been a parent for just over 2 months, and it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done), our sexuality and identities deserve to be celebrated as well. I want my child to know he can be himself fully. And an important part of that is living it, acknowledging and embracing my own identity. I am guessing it makes no difference to my 2-month-old baby what pronouns I use or if I am bi or nonbinary or queer. But it makes a difference how present I am and how fully I am living. I think because I have to speak from the closet, I want my child to know every day that they can be themselves no matter what. I want them to feel the unconditional support we have for him as parents. And a good place to start with that, especially since he is still just a baby, is to be open with my partner and myself.
I am lucky that I have a supportive spouse who encourages me to be myself and helps me work to figure that out so I can be my best self. I am sure not everyone has that kind of support, and I encourage you to lean on your bi and LGBTI community. It is one of the most diverse communities I have ever encountered, and I can promise you there are others who are currently battling and have already successfully battled the same obstacles you are facing. Becoming a parent is already isolating enough, much less being a new bi or queer parent who doesn’t know what it means for their identity (aka me).
That being said — your journey into and through parenthood will be your own. It will be unique because it is still yours. You love your child, which means whatever your journey through becoming a parent looks like is the right one. Take it at your own pace and be kind to yourself. You got this.