By Ashlee Barrett
Sometimes I don't know what type of story we should tell about our life and our family. Are we a family with two Moms? Are we the family that was created with IVF? Or are the family of a child with Down syndrome? We are all three. And we exist in an interesting space that asks us to belong to many different communities at the same time. It is overwhelming at times - trying to figure out where we belong and what our voices should be but one thing we have learned while belonging to each of these communities is that community is important and being an authentic voice is important to us.
Somehow we adopted the term 2 Mom Crew - or maybe I did - and it has stuck on the description. We call ourselves a niche family now - the two Mom crew with an extra chromosome to be exact.
My wife's name is Kate and we were married in 2018. We met when we were both teaching at the same school - I knew immediately I wanted to marry Kate but she took a little convincing. She knew immediately she wanted a huge family but I took a little convincing. We are a balance - a team - she is laid back and funny, the source of play - I am very type A, organizing our lives, and the source of comfort. My wedding vows actually said I would allow her to be the "fun Mom" and I feel like I have held on that promise. We go by Mom (Kate) and Mama (Ashlee) and I think it's pretty important that people get those terms right - you wouldn't like to be called by the wrong name, right?
And that is where life starts to get tricky for us - we exist in a space that is typically reserved for cisgender couples. Parenthood.
For example, when I am at the doctor with Maeve, they never refer to me by my name (Ashlee or Ms. Barrett) - it's always Mom. But I'm not Mom, I am Mama. The birth certificate said "Father" until it was returned to us. And my wife will have to adopt our child even though she is listed on her birth certificate.
I think people take for granted the existence of cisgender families and assume every child belongs to one. We assume people's pronouns - we assume people's roles in parenting - we assume children exist in spaces that make sense in our heternormative environments. To place yourself in that headspace - take a moment and think about how infuriating it is when a person assumes anything about your child's capabilities - how many times have we heard "they won't be able to do xyz?"