Friday, 17 June 2016

Who's the daddy?

Who's the daddy? Well, as far as my daughter is concerned, pretty much any adult male who makes conversation with us...

I remember when we first started trying for a baby I wondered whether our child would resent growing up without a father. We reassured ourselves with the fact that our baby would have two loving parents.

My daughter is now two and a half, and has been going to nursery for about a year. As a result she has come to medt many other children with different kinds of families and backgrounds, which is great. Lots of the children are picked up by 'dad' and I think this was her first exposure to being a little different to others. She has responded with curiosity. When my sister, brother-in-law and niece and neohew came to stay, she called her uncle 'dad' just as his son did. I actually found it really sweet, although I can't speak for 'uncle dad' as he became that weekend. Today we were being welcomed into an apartment we are renting for the weekend by the owner, who was with his young son. Within five minutes my little girl grabbed his hand and called him 'dad' much to his surprise.

Her name for me is 'mama bear' - a nickname my mum dubbed me with when she was born which has stuck. Interestingly, while she was busy appropriating other children's dads, at least three other children - including my nephew - call me mama bear too from time to time.

My little girl has the good fortune of having three grandfathers, each of whom she has a good and very different relationship. So she'll never want for 'male role models'. I long ago realised that it was the quality of the relationship you have with a child, not who you are, what your gender is and whether you have a biological connection with them.

I picked her up from nursery yesterday to discover all the children had done special drawings for their dads to mark Father's Day this Sunday. The nursery nurse was rather timid when she explained that the picture my girl had done was dedicated to me, and was that ok? I was so very touched. So it would seem that, for now, being mama bear is good enough. And chaps - if a small blonde toddler sidles up to you and calls you 'dad' within minutes of meeting you, take it as a compliment.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

New book for publication Spring 2017: a quiet hand in yours

I'm really excited to be able to report that I have contributed to a new book that will be published in Spring 2017.
Pinter and Martin are publishing Pride and Joy: A Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parents, by Sarah Eve Hagger-Holt and Dr Rachel Rose Hagger-Holt next year, and part of this blog, Mama Not Mummy, has been included.
As a former journalist, writing non-fiction often comes more naturally to me than fiction, so it is heartening to know I've still got 'it'. The blog originally came from a place of becoming a parent for the first time, and becoming a parent in a somewhat unconventional manner. I struggled to find any real writing about the situation I found myself in, so the blog came about as a way to express my feelings. I was surprised to find it gathered a following of others in a similar situation, once again reminding me of the power of reading and writing as affirmation. There's a line in the play The History Boys by Alan Bennett about this, about the power of literature to reach out and touch you:
Hector - The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.
I'm thrilled to be included in this new book, and really hope that this will help others feel a quiet hand in theirs.
Note in the image above, I am demonstrating pride and joy. Or something...