When I was younger, I had very set ideas on what made a parent. To be a ‘parent’ you needed to be either a mum or a dad in a couple. Growing up in a rural town, that was 99% of what I was exposed to and used to. Every make believe game would require one of us to act as a man to fulfil the dad’s role. My school friends didn’t come from single parent families or from same sex parents, or if they did it was never something I was aware of.
It’s funny how things can change so quickly in just one generation. If I think about my childhood, I wonder about how many people had different family set ups to their own and whether we were just quieter about it, or it didn’t happen in the same way. Perhaps it’s the rise of the internet or being within that age range now where my friends and colleagues have their own families that I’ve started to question what really ‘makes’ a parent.
For me parenthood is about time, it’s about love, it’s about putting someone else ahead of yourself. It’s never sleeping the same, worrying constantly and overthinking almost everything. It’s the quiet moments snuggling, the dreaming of their future, the buying of their favourite foods. It’s knowing how to comfort, being a safe place, a constant through every other aspect of your child’s life. It’s not one big thing but millions of tiny, insignificant seeming things that fit together to make you a parent. It’s incredible and terrifying and emotional and everything in between. But most of all, it’s indescribable. Why should anyone that wants to not have that opportunity to feel that?
I find it interesting to think about how my son will play make believe with his friends. Over the last few months I’ve followed friends and fellow bloggers as they talk about how they’ve had children; one is using egg donation, one has completed IVF with donor sperm, another is looking into surrogacy. I have friends who are single parents, separated couples, adoptive parents, same sex or married heterosexuals; each one providing a different take on the same story of having a family. Will my son’s play reflect that incredible shift in society?
As he and I get older, I realise just how far we’ve come over the past thirty years. Suddenly, we’re in a place where becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean what it used to. It doesn’t have to mean luck on a fertility draw that everything works. It means that anyone who wants to start a family has the potential opportunity to do so thanks to some of the scientific breakthroughs that are now in place. And in this society I realise just how lucky we are to have that and how lucky my son is to be growing up in with all of these options. Because parenthood isn’t about having all the right bits to make it happen. It’s about so much more than that.
This post is in collaboration with Coparents; an organisation who have connected thousands of potential parents and donors from all over the world. With a wealth of information available to anyone considering co-parenting or sperm donation, Coparents have been helping make parenthood a reality since 2008. For more information, please take a look at their website.