Wednesday, March 30, 2011

She Looks Just Like You! (Oh I hear that all the time!)

I remember the days when I had time at work or home to pull together extra minutes to write a book review. Hah!   We are experiencing a crazy schedule and I have to pick and choose what I can get done.

I did manage to finish reading Peter and the Shadow Thieves tonight after our church dinner celebrating Haitian culture.  I simply came home, laid down on the sofa and read.  I wanted it finished for my 5th grade book club meeting at school, which meets today,  and no way did I want to listen to 5 students discuss the ending without having my own insight.  Now I can shout it from the mountain top-Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson wrote an a thrilling sequel to Peter and the Starcatchers.  I wonder what Peter and the Secret of Rundoon is like....hmmm....must add to list.

But I digress because today I'm actually here to tell you about She Looks Just Like You; A Memoir of (Nonbiological Lesbian) Motherhood(2010)  by Amie Klempnauer Miller.  This is a "hot button" topic right now and one that I am firmly for-and I will gladly shout this from the mountain top as well- people should be able to love who they want.*

The description of Amie falling in love with Jane while they were both at a Midwestern college could mirror my own love story.   I'm probably preaching to the choir but my wish would be if just one person who is against gay marriage read this book with an open mind and had a change of heart would be mo.  It's about people and love and justice.  I feel without a doubt that this is the Civil Rights struggle of the 21st Century.  Same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexuals, to marry, foster and adopt children and to share health care. Amie explains how frustrating it was to have to go to court to adopt her daughter. 

Amie and Jane's love story and their decision to become parents after an 18 year relationship is personal, heart-warming and I recommend this book  for the story it shares. Okay, for her first book she does overwrite a bit-lengthy discussions and overly descriptive at times,  but it is her retelling.  Once Hannah is born the book made me laugh and cry because parenthood is funny and tragic all at once.

Nursing, late night trips to the doctor, over guessing every dang decision, worry added to more worry is what encompasses the second half of the book and that is the dream/nightmare most parents also experience. It brought back my nursing joys and baby love.   I nursed and hated weaning Groovy Girl.  Yet I was the one who wanted to wean her because she was old enough to ask for it on demand and Spring Break and summer loomed ahead and I knew I just couldn't take it anymore.  Ahhh, the irony of it all! 

The difficult part about reading this book is "watching" Amie and Jane's relationship crumble as they find their new roles as mom and mamma much more difficult than any parenting manuel can ever express. Thank you to Amie for writing a book that is honest about how hard it can be for anyone to be sleep-deprived, work full-time, try to write, try to placate your partner all while the child is wailing-it's painful but well-told. 

My favorite movie this year was The Kid's Are All Right, which has a similar theme of a longtime lesbian couple (Benning and Moore) with children and the children choose to meet their sperm donor father.  It is realistic and hilarious! 

Amie Klempnaer Miller's website and blog-keep up with the family!

A random quote:

"Pregnancy slaps you in the face with the knowledge that much of who we are is defined by our bodies.  On a daily basis, Jane is becoming less self-sufficient.  Her growing stomach limits the clothes she can wear, the things she can reach, and the spaces she can fit into.  Hormones course through her veins like hallucinogenic drugs, making her drop things, forget what she is saying in the middle of a sentence, and gag whenever she tries to brush her teeth.  Her body is hot and tired and beginning to swell.  And now she is surrounded by a room full of even hotter, more exhausted, and more swollen women, like perverse Ghosts of Christmas Future, presenting vision upon vision of what she will become."  (80)

Other thoughts:
Emily reviews it at What All the Cool Kids Are Reading...

I found my copy on the new shelf at my local library!

*disclaimer-understand this to mean I don't consider small children or young adult children to be love interest candidates for adults.  I've heard this argument before and clearly I know the difference between consenting adults who like each other or fall in love.  Often we don't pick who we fall in love with-it happens.  I happened to have fallen in love with a tall, brown-haired man who slurps his cereal and drives with his knee.    I still love him and find him incredibly sexy most of the time!

Do you feel GLBT can be good parents/partners?  Let me know in the comment section...


Ms. Blakely said...

I do believe that gay and lesbian families can be amazing parents and they should be able to become parents just like anyone else. As a teacher, I see all kinds of different family structures, and I can say that some of the most messed up and unhealthy were those that most consider to be the "conventional family" unit. Gays and lesbians are just as capable as anyone else (and sometimes moreso) to provide a loving and healthy family and should be given the opportunity to do so. I know that many of my gay friends would be amazing parents and I would love for them to have the opportunity.

Unknown said...

I'm thrilled that this issue is getting more of the attention that it deserves! The constant influx of positive attention for same-gendered parents in the media can only be a positive thing. I absolutely loved Jodi Picoult's Sing You Home, and then fell in love with it all over again when my mom read it and said that she, too, had been cheering for the two women. The times they are a' changing!

Julia said...

Some of hte best parents I know are gay - as well as some of hte happiest and unahppiest couples. Hmm, just like everyone else. :)