A 2006 Lambda Literary finalist in the LGBT anthology category
After author Harlyn Aizley gave birth to her daughter, she watched in unanticipated horror as her partner scooped up the baby and said, "I'm your new mommy!" While they both had worked to find the perfect sperm donor, Aizley had spent nine months carrying the baby and hours in labor, so how could her partner claim to be their child's mommy?
Many diapers later, Aizley began to appreciate the complexity of her partner's new role as the other mother. Together, they searched for stories about families like their own, in which a woman has chosen to forgo her own birth experience so that she might support her partner in hers. They found very few. Now, in Confessions of the Other Mother, Aizley has put together an exciting collection of personal stories by women like her partner who are creating new parenting roles, redefining motherhood, and reshaping our view of two-parent families. Contributors include Hillary Goodridge, who was one of the lead plaintiffs in the case for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, stand-up comedian Judy Gold, and psychologist and author Suzanne M. Johnson.
This candid peek into a previously unexamined side of lesbian parenting is full of stories that are sometimes humorous, sometimes moving, but at all times celebratory. Each parenting tale sheds light on the many facets of motherhood, offering gay and straight readers alike a deeper understanding of what it means to love and parent in the twenty-first century.
More than 15 years into the lesbian baby boom, Aizley's collection of first-person accounts by nonbiological lesbian mothers is a long time coming. Nonlegalistic and (mostly) nonharrowing, these tales are only tangentially about powers of attorney, two-parent adoption, and custody battles, instead illumining what it is to be mom and not-mom at the same time. Some pieces explore the feelings of envy and loss of would-be but infertile mothers learning to accept their easily pregnant partners. Others examine the "lesbian daddy" role, as in Polly Pagenhart's exceptional "Confessions of a Lesbian Dad"; and the lesbian stepmom role, like CNN reporter Mary Cardaras's "Family of the Heart." The most moving essay, "And You Are?" by Hillary Goodridge, describes the peril of being the other mother who is a legal and familial cipher, unrecognizable as "real" family to either partner or child in the eyes of anyone but them. These essays explain what it is to be biologically estranged from your spouse and child(ren) and the daily struggle for approval and acceptance that these women face in society and sometimes even in their own homes and hearts.