Last week, my partner Beth and I got married. We went to the courthouse, and did the thing, just the two of us and my son. There’s a lot of reasons why we made this choice (there will be a longer post about this right here on Autostraddle this week!), but the biggest thing is that it felt right for our little family to do this together. So much of the four years we’ve been a family has been in the bubble of just the three of us, I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
For those who don’t already, my wife and I met in February 2020. We had only been officially a couple for about three weeks when the pandemic started. And we officially became engaged on Christmas 2020; I proposed to her on Thanksgiving. Even though I often refer to him as my son, my wife is just as much of a parent to him as I am, and he considers her his mom.
I can never forget their official first meeting. My bed frame had broken, and I finally had time to get a new one. My friend was supposed to stay and help me put it together, but she bailed on me. So I called Beth to see if she could come help. She was at my apartment in a half hour. I introduced them and then the three of us put my bed together. They were completely enamored with each other from the very beginning. Beth was so patient with him as he helped, and he looked at her like a shiny new toy. That night, he lost two teeth and she thankfully had cash.
When the bed was finished and we had put the mattresses back, he turned to me and asked, “Can she spend the night?” and that was it.
The beginning of lockdown was rough for everyone, but especially Beth. Because I had the boy and a dog, she would come and stay with us for a few nights at a time then return home to her cats. Sometimes me and the boy would hang out at her place, and it was always so hard to say goodbye. It was harder for her, because she always felt like she was disappointing us or guilty that she was enjoying being alone when she wasn’t at our place.
Beth worked in the entertainment industry, which shut down when the pandemic began, and she had no steady income. We had already talked about moving in together, so we just moved the timeline up by a few months. When I first started writing QMC, someone asked if my son had a say in Beth’s moving in. Technically I didn’t ask him if he was okay with it. But I didn’t have to — he was the one who usually begged her to stay longer or would whine when she left. He knew she was meant to live with us. On June 1st, she moved in, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Honestly, we felt like a family after that night building my bed together. But once we were living together all the time, it cemented the fact that we were meant to be. We spent every waking hour together for days and months on end, and I was still happy to see them both when I woke up in the morning. That doesn’t mean it was easy, it just means that we learned how to manage. Some days that looked like Power Rangers and pajamas all day, some days it was 40 minute car rides to the Sonic drive-thru, and some days it looked like melatonin and collapsing in bed.
It was those first six months of living together that really solidified Beth’s role in our family. I was still definitely the default parent, but she stepped up in ways I couldn’t have even fathomed. She decided that she was going to be in charge of virtual school so that I could focus on working. She got up every morning and made sure the kiddo was at the computer for his lessons. She even made an effort to get our picky eater to have a more well balanced lunch by making smiley faces on his plate out of lunch meats and fruit. When I needed a break, she would load him into the car and take him for a swirly ice cream cone or to look at the small animals at Petco. Then at night after he’d fallen asleep, she’d hold me and listen to me complain about how overwhelmed I was or how hard my work was. I truly don’t think we would have made it through without her.
Coming into an established family unit is hard, but Beth always rose to the occasion. Since I am the default parent, she defers to me and my wishes, but that doesn’t mean she is not actively parenting him. It just means that sometimes she checks in with me before she disciplines him. That was probably one of my biggest fears when it came to blending our family, that she would want to come in and disrupt the way the relationship between me and my son works.
My son and I are thick as thieves; I’ve talked about how close we are before. He is the ultimate momma’s boy, and he’s also not very trusting of people. So I wasn’t sure if he was going to make Beth work for his love, but he never did. He welcomed her into our family, and treated her like she’d always been there. Almost immediately, he let her see all the parts of him that even his father hadn’t seen. It wasn’t just that I trusted her, he trusted her, and that is a huge deal. She had infinite patience with him, allowing him the space to work through whatever feelings he may have been having.
One night while I was helping him in the bath, he turned to me, and what he said blew my mind.
“Mommy, we were so lonely before. And now we have Bethy, and we’re not lonely anymore!”
It took all I had not to cry. He was right, we had been lonely before. I just didn’t know that he was feeling the incompleteness of our family too. His little heart was waiting for someone to come into it that he could love almost as much as he loves me. And then there she was. She was all ours, and she was never going anywhere.
Over the last four years, our little family unit has only gotten stronger. We’re like the three musketeers, and always will be. Beth and I decided that having another kid just wasn’t in the cards for us. Everyone in his life knows us as J’s moms, and some of his friends are actually jealous! I love how close my son and my wife are — I’ve been able to leave town several times and not have to worry about the two of them surviving without me. Honestly, they probably had more fun without me there! My son knows that there’s two people in his life, in his home, that will always have his back no matter what.
We’re still figuring out what other legal steps we can take to make our family unit a little more secure. California allows a third parent to adopt a child, so we’ll likely start looking into that soon to create a plan in case something ever happens to me. For now, we’re just going to bask in the joy of our family unit being officially official.
Have any of you blended a family? What was something about it that surprised you? Do you want to know more about my family?
Queer Mom Chronicles is a column where I examine all of the many facets of queer parenthood through my tired mom eyes.