I cannot refer to my family as traditional—it is far from it. And each year, my family’s difference is especially highlighted in May. Around the second week of the month, my friends start to become frantic—they rush to get flowers, chocolates, and breakfast ingredients. But I am unnaturally calm. No, my mom did not die. I just have two dads.
In elementary school, Mother’s Day was always tough for me. My classmates would make cute paintings, coloring book pages, or cards for their moms. I would also create a nice piece of art, but it usually had no significance at all. My classmates would run around on the Monday after the holiday, boasting about how much their mom loved their drawings—yet I would have no such news to share. Maybe I would have given my creation to my aunt to hang on her fridge, but it was just like any other drawing I gave her.
I will admit, when I was younger it was much harder for me to accept the fact that my family is different.
I will admit, when I was younger it was much harder for me to accept the fact that my family is different. But it has become easier. It doesn’t matter to me that I don’t celebrate Mother’s Day. My family doesn’t really celebrate Father’s Day anyway, because my dads’ birthdays are one and two weeks before it.
Something that has always stuck with me is a friend’s response to the question of what makes Father’s Day different for people with two dads: “I have thought about this for the past 18 years, and I finally figured it out. It is where you put the apostrophe!” His answer shows that it doesn’t matter whether you have one dad or four; it is a day to celebrate them. It’s the same for Mother’s Day, which for me has become a day to celebrate my female role models, like my aunts and grandmother. My aunts, in particular, helped raise me—my brother and I are extremely close to them, and it’s important to me that I recognize them. I also make an effort to give my aunts and my nana Mother’s Day cards, and I make sure to give them a call that day.
I am exposed to TV and web content that tells me my family is not valid, and that my parents will “go to hell.”
Mother’s Day is just a small example of how things are different for me. I was born in 2001, so I witnessed my parents legally marry in Massachusetts (fun fact: my dad’s birthday was the day same-sex couples could get their marriage licenses) and their marriage getting legally recognized in all 50 states (second fun fact: that was the day before their 11th wedding anniversary). I am exposed to TV and web content that tells me my family is not valid, and that my parents will “go to hell.” I have been a victim of the looks we get as a family—sometimes people assume I am the wife of one of my dads, or my brother’s mom. I do not look that much older than him! I think we are locked into a heteronormative culture that has trouble processing that not all families are parented by one male and one female.
I am living an Option B. I had a choice between Option A: living with and accepting all the hate, stereotypes, and assumptions that I see in the news and in society, and Option B: standing up for my family and accepting, embracing, and showcasing our life to the world.
I am no different than any other 17-year-old girl, and I am glad I chose Option B.
Jean Azar-Tanguay is a junior in high school at Boston Latin School. She has lived in Boston her whole life with her two dads and younger brother. She is a member of the Family Equality Council Outspoken Generation and COLAGE’s Youth Action Board.