Whenever I mentioned my wife and I planned to have children, the first question was, ‘Who’s going to carry?’
‘Will your wife carry the next one?’
Because this is the choice we have made? Because Y is a crooked letter, and Z is no better? Because her parental status in our family is not determined by giving birth?
The ‘who is going to carry’ question carries the very weighted assumption that biology = parent and I believe that is inaccurate. It is also an inappropriate conversation to have in passing.
Worse when people call our anonymous donor ‘the daddy.’ He gave us the gift of life — screaming, furious life — but he wouldn’t recognise our child in the street.
You don’t need a biological link to a child to be their parent. Biological relationship is inconsequential if you are changing nappies, kissing boo-boos, placating moods, and putting dinner on the table.
I love watching my wife parent our son. Although we are similar (way too similar sometimes) in personality type, she makes up funnier songs, enjoys the bath-time routine more than I do, and immerses him in her home language – Afrikaans.
It doesn’t need to be ‘her egg’ and she didn’t need to give birth to him to be his parent, or to be equal with me in the equation.
Biology aside, parenting is hard. We’ve navigated sleepless nights, and struggled at times to keep the house organised. It took some time for us to figure out how to fold and unfold his pram. We nearly lost our minds over that thing. We yelled and swore at the stupid contraption in many a shopping centre carpark while our sweet babe looked on from his car seat.
Nothing ever stretched our relationship quite like that pram – and we once washed all our clothes in a Parisian laundromat with everything labelled in French. Merde!
I had the experience of growing the baby inside me. My wife stroked my belly as it grew — and read to the bump every night. Now that he’s Earth-side, she doesn’t waste a second in loving him or meeting his needs.
We both get the same implicit sense of joy and challenge from this parenting thing. Biology doesn’t diminish the joy, nor ease the challenges.
Instead of asking who carried the baby, we should be asking who carries the responsibility of the child — and in our family, there are two of us.