Pride 2014 parents: Simone Longpré on being a lesbian mom
Simone Longpré has had to get used to crossing out the “mother” and “father” categories on her children’s school forms.
Each time one of the sheets comes home, the parent of three speaks up about having to change the form to list two mothers.
“It should not come home like that,” Longpré told the Georgia Straight in an interview. “All it has to do is say ‘parent’ or ‘guardian’.…Come on, this is 2014.”
These kinds of assumptions have made Longpré and her partner of 19 years, Caroline Brunt, very “forthright” with people about being a two-mother household.
“The assumptions will almost always err on the heterosexist side—almost always,” Longpré noted. “You occasionally meet somebody that says ‘Will your partner be joining us?’ or something like that, and you’re like, ‘Whoa, that is so out of the norm’.…Half the time, it’s ‘Will your husband be joining us?’ ”
She and Brunt have also been upfront with their 15-year-old son and twin 13-year-old son and daughter, who call their birth mother, Longpré, “Mama” and Brunt “Mummy”.
“We just talk about everything,” said Longpré, who is vice-chair of the board of directors for LGBT resource centre Qmunity. “We might just ask them on occasion, ‘Have you ever had any problem? Has anybody ever said anything to you that would be inappropriate?’ I suspect we have worried about it a great deal more than they have.”
One misconception they’ve encountered is that because there are two mothers in the household, parenting must be a breeze. Longpré emphasized that she and her partner deal with the same issues and challenges as any other parent.
“We are aware that we’re viewed through a particular lens that other, straight parents don’t have to deal with, and there are assumptions that are made that we have to contradict…and it adds an extra bit of challenge to your parenting, I suppose,” she said. “But probably not much greater than the current ones that we have to deal with every day.”
Another assumption the couple has had to face is that their children don’t have any male role models.
Longpré noted that while there is no father in their household, the children have plenty of men to look up to.
“We spend lots of time with straight families and gay families,” she explained. “And of course the men that they know in their lives are not all cookie-cutter, either.
“They’re really different kinds of men, just like they have different women in their life.…It’s important that your children have lots of different kinds of exposure to lots of different kinds of people, regardless of your family makeup.”
Longpré added that the idea that there’s an “ideal” family model is ridiculous.
“There is no ideal formula,” she said. “And…it takes a village—it really does. I mean, just to get your kids to soccer, you know?”
Given that both mothers originally hail from small towns—Longpré from Saskatchewan and Brunt from Wales—a community-oriented model of parenting comes naturally to both.
“Isolation is not a good thing for anybody,” Longpré stated. “We rely tremendously on our community, and I think that’s an appropriate way to parent, for whatever reasons.…It’s important to be connected to other people. That’s what makes your kids grow up to be productive and happy people.”