Everyone has a story to tell about how they were raised, what their upbringing was like, how they became the person they are in adulthood. For me, I reject the notion that my mother “raised” me, that child rearing was ever part of our family structure. Instead, I feel that my whole family has been growing and maturing together, living and learning from each other. Yet, it would be a lie to pretend that my birth mother hasn’t always been the pillar of the family, and in many ways, the support beam of my life.
Being radical, pagan, unschooled, queer hippies living in the secluded hills of rural Connecticut hasn’t always been easy but many of those labels, or identities, have evolved slowly for my family and continue to do so. These aren’t just labels; they are lifestyles, traditions, beliefs and philosophies. It’s who we are.
|Beltane 2013 celebration, photo credit: Jack Zornado|
Sabbat celebrations weren’t purely spiritual events, they were also social gatherings and celebrations, and despite my mother having created this group from the ground up, there were ways in which my family always felt like outcasts, even among friends.
We were the only unschoolers in the bunch.
Making the decision to support my sister and I as we chose whether or not we would attend school, follow a curriculum, or take tests is something for which other people have often judged my mother, but she always described it as the natural evolution of her attachment parenting style. Unschooling, or the radical philosophy that humans are naturally curious beings, and will learn more from exploring the world than from sitting in a classroom, is something that has set our family far outside of the ordinary.
“So, your mother is your teacher?” hairdressers, dentists, distant family members and strangers would frequently ask me when I was younger. But in the same regard that it was not only my mother who “raised” me, it was also not only my mother who taught me. My world has always been a kaleidoscope of unique learning opportunities, overlapping and intersecting not only with my own interests, but with the different identities and communities of myself and my family. The philosophy of trust and respect by which we have always lived lies at the heart of unschooling and is responsible for the members of my family being out and proud.
Proud of our of our varying gender expressions and sexualities.
Of our queerness.
When I was 6 years old, my family went through a major change. Nervously sitting my sister and me down in the living room, my mother and father told us that they were divorcing, that my mom is a lesbian, and that our family friend, Renée, would be entering our lives as another mom. From that day forward, it has been my privilege to live with not one, but two wonderful womyn to guide me, parent me and love me.
Because the focus of this post is about mothers, I felt I was expected to start off talking about the fact that I am blessed with two of them, but my own narrative as the child of two womyn just isn’t that interesting to me. For sure, being raised in a queer family has had a great deal of affect on me. But being raised in a household where every member has an equal voice, every decision is made democratically, and every choice about my life has been made not for me, but with me, has had an even greater affect.
Community has been something of a buzzword in my family for years, as we face the challenge to either find, or create, local community that will fully embrace all the many and varied aspects of my family. Most recently, this journey has led us to another major life change: moving away from the area in which my family has lived for generations, and leaving behind the house out of which my family has blossomed for 30 years.
I am fortunate to know that wherever I travel, and however many identities I take on, I’ll always be backed by a supportive family unit, ready to catch me when I fall, cheer for me when I succeed, and watch late-night television with me when I’m lonely. And that two mamas are at the helm is simply just a bonus.
Emmett is 18, and is currently relocating to MA. Emmett is 3rd generation queer spawn, meaning that they have a queer grandparent and parent, and that they also identify as queer (and gender fluid). Emmett sits on the Youth Advisory Board of COLAGE-for people who lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer parent(s) and will be serving as a staff member at Provincetown Family Week this summer. Emmett has written 5 novel manuscripts, and co-founded a theatre troupe with their mother and sister, in addition to being a fierce advocate for unschooling, as well as queer and trans rights. Emmett is a blogger and vlogger, and you can find their videos here, and some of their other writing here.