Heteronormativity in Parenthood Expectations

{originally posted April 29, 2014}

Welcome to another Childfree Story! Today we meet Ramona & Frances, a childfree same-sex couple living in Canada. Ramona is Canadian and Frances is from the US, which makes them an interracial couple as well.

Hold on…Amy wants to tell me something.

… …

… … …

Ok. This is moderately embarrassing. Amy has informed me that this is not what “interracial” means. I have googled it and she is correct. My bad.

Moving on. I thought it would be interesting to hear about the experiences of a same-sex childfree couple. Do they have to deal with the same BINGOs? Do they have different BINGOs? Are they BINGOfree? Maybe they play cribbage instead?

Let’s find out, shall we?

Heteronormative Expectations

Childfree Stories - Ramona & Frances - 2011 Chicago Cloud GateIn our experience, we have it easy compared to straight folks when it comes to societal pressures to have kids. No one in our families ever asked us when we were going to have children with the assumption that we would. Neither did our friends, to be honest. Could it be that our reputation for being carefree and spontaneous among our friends and family signaled to people that the childfree life was for us? I doubt that. In fact, many off-hand comments reminded us that we were not expected to have children. For example, my partner has a single sibling who once said to us, “Well, since you aren’t going to have kids, it’s all up to me.” This is without any preceding questions or conversation about having children. In fact, at that point we were quietly beginning what would become the very lengthy process of trying to conceive. It served as a reminder that having children wasn’t what the people around us expected us to do. Not even did us getting legally married ten years ago here in Canada add to the pressure to have kids.

Interestingly, we have been asked multiple times to act as, for lack of a better word, “godparents” so there is some sense that we are nurturing, caring people among our friends and family.

I still felt the pressure from society at large though. Many times along the way I asked myself whether I actually wanted children or just expected myself to because I am a woman. The answer to this was never clear though the feminist in me kept asking. I was also connected to a wide network of lesbians who were trying to conceive at the same time as me. Of all 20 or so couples, we are the only ones who don’t have children. Everyone else either drained their bank accounts dry to make it work biologically or, in just one case, adopted. Leaving the process behind not only made us feel like failures but also quitters. It was rough. I can’t even relate to that mindset anymore and I’m positive it’s not sour grapes talking. I am truly grateful that our life has led us here.

To sum it up, the lack of expectation for us to have children has served as – mostly – a blessing. We rarely have to field questions about when we’re going to have children (and we’re in that age group when everyone around is getting pregnant or has young kids). However, this same expectation is also borne out of the heteronormative society that we all live in here in North America and that continues to be unnerving and annoying.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *