Monday 22 December 2014

Mammy, Mummy and Me

The age old description of the nuclear family is just that, age old. Three same-sex families share the internal dynamics of their home life, the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.

Caodhan with his two mums, Lucille and Elaine
Anthony and Barry
Anthony and Barry
Daire Courtney
Caodhan with his two mums, Lucille and Elaine

Daire Courtney's mother Grainne came out a few years after she split with her husband Barry. Grainne met Orla 11 years ago and the two women have been together ever since. They got married last year. Daire lives with both of them and her sister Clare.

"I'm a 19-year-old student at Trinity College, Dublin. Originally my parents, Grainne and Barry, both doctors, and my sister Clare lived together but my parents split up when I was almost two. I don't remember the split.

A few years after the split, my mum met a woman and was with her for three years before she passed away. She then met Orla a few months later and Orla's been with us since I was eight.

I don't remember the first time we met Orla, although she always says it was the most nervous she's ever been. We were used to meeting new people and having a big family around us so it wasn't strange. I do, however, remember the excitement of Orla moving in because we always had fun together.

My mum came out when I was very young, so there really was nothing to get my head around. It was as normal for me as any other relationship, because I hadn't been told that there was anything different about my family.

I think the idea of a normal, nuclear family only comes into your head when you see television and when parents and friends tell you that's what's normal, but that wasn't the case for me.

It was never strange for me to see my mum and another woman together because it was never explained as being an 'alternative' thing. The only change is that I'm now aware that other people think it might be strange.

I remember people in primary school asking why my mum was living with a woman instead of a man and thinking what a strange question, because why wouldn't she live with a woman? The bias only appears when people treat it as if it's strange.

I've lived in the same house as my mum and Orla for almost my whole life, and still do. My family of four genuinely enjoy doing things together and we always have things to talk about. I feel very lucky that we all get along so well.

Last year we took a trip to New York to celebrate Grainne and Orla's wedding, which unfortunately is only recognised as a civil partnership in Ireland. It's funny to think they've been married less than a year when they've been together so long.

My dad Barry is still around and as a child I stayed with him part-time as well. My dad and mum have always been very close friends, even after they split up. They've always made it easy for us to have two families.

My day-to-day life growing up with two mums involves us all having our own things going on. I debate and my mum's play bridge twice a week. We're all very into food, though, so we often go out to dinner together, finding new restaurants to go to, and Grainne and Orla are always sharing their new recipes with us.

One of the many positives to my modern family is the fact that I've always liked having more than two parents, because I think it's great to get different perspectives and parenting styles as you grow up – and it's good to know that you have a big family to look after you.

Other than that, any positives I feel about my family are down to them, not the type of family I'm from. I've always known I had fantastic parents, but only because they are fantastic people.

We were never bullied because of having two mums. We went to a very open and accepting school, Mount Temple, a public school in Clontarf, where even if we had been bullied, the teachers would have put a stop to it.

My family have always been very close. Both my parents, like most LGBT people, had some trouble coming to terms with people's reactions, but in general friends and family have always been supportive and accepting. Their wedding party in Dublin had a great atmosphere with some very touching speeches from parents and siblings.

One big societal challenge we faced as a family was having to travel for the wedding. My mums wanted a marriage, not just a civil partnership, which was the only thing available to them as a same-sex couple in Ireland.

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