Community / Portraits

VillageQ Community: On Divorcing and Finding Empathy

Can we please all give Moira an extra special VillageQ Community hug?  Speaking as a single, queer Mom, I know how hard it is to pull your family together, to find joy and peace in the newness, and to juggle doing it all. I am so proud to be able to help Moira share her story and her successes. Plus, I have really loved reading some of her background on Bread and Roses

To participate in our series, please email clare@villageq.com for more information.


Name: Moira

Age: 40 something

Hometown: Portsmouth, NH

Social media handles: Mary at Bread and Roses

Number and ages of kids: Ladybug (LB), age 4

Number of pets: none

Day job: Working for the forces of good at a youth-serving non-profit.

Relationship status: Divorcing and single

Favorite children’s book: That’s like asking my favorite drop of water in the ocean, but I’m going to say Understood Betsy (themes of self-reliance, independence, hard work, community-mindedness, and human relationships over material belongings)

Favorite flavor of ice cream: Heavenly Hash (sometimes mislabeled as Rocky Road)

How did you create your family?

IUI in a clinic with an anonymous donor.

How do you balance work and home life?

Poorly?  I’m lucky to work for an organization that allows some flexibility in work schedules, but I always feel like I’m trying to do at least 10% too much. But I’m only happy if I’m doing too much, so I guess it works.

What challenges have you faced as a queer family, and how did you overcome them?

Our initial challenge, like a lot of couples, was paying for fertility treatments. The combination of insurance rules that discriminate against queer couples and our complicated and expensive health care/insurance system made the process feel really scary – that “I could drop a ton of money and still not have a child” feeling.

I’ve written on my blog about our second challenge, which involved my preeclampsia and my daughter’s premature birth and NICU stay. Overall we were treated very well as a lesbian couple and lesbian moms, but there were many scary what ifs. For example, although we were legally married at the time of the birth, the hospital allowed only me to be the medical decision maker for our daughter. That meant I was sick, exhausted, and terrified, and I got all the late night calls from the NICU.  It was never clear to us what exactly would happen if I was incapacitated.
We also felt some pressure to be the model minority lesbian couple. And, I was really bothered to see how much better we were treated than NICU parents who were poor, young, or non-English speaking. I don’t want to be discriminated against or treated rudely, but I also don’t want to be held up as a model queer parents who makes it okay to treat other oppressed people badly.
What is it like for queer parents/ couples in your city/country?
Readers should move to Providence, RI. It’s a great place to be a queer parent! Things may get harder for our daughter (and us) when she’s older, and other kids are more aware of our family, but so far we have not run into any issues. And I work for a youth-serving organization where our young people are really progressive on LGBTQ issues, so I’m hopeful for the future.
How do you keep the love alive?
Well, clearly my ex-wife and I didn’t do a very good job. So, I’ll interpret this question as “How do you keep your love for your child and the world alive during this difficult time in your life?” I’m trying to build a rich life of relationships and experiences for my daughter. For myself: I try to get plenty of exercise, engage my mind, and to be open to friends, new and old.
It’s challenging to be a blogger (and a person) going through a divorce. I don’t want to spew my bitterness all over or over-share, but I also resent the pressure to publicly do the “conscious uncoupling” thing. I’m very sad to be getting divorced, and I think sadness can be a really uncomfortable emotion for the people around me. But, I’m hoping I can channel this experience and these emotions into greater compassion and empathy for the world.
Photo Credit: Moira

Photo Credit: Moira

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3 Comments

  1. Nodding in solidarity and sending love from the west coast where I am also parenting, working, and divorcing.

  2. Clare Masson says:

    Thank you for sharing your story with me. Or rather, with all of us!

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. We have friends that have split up in the last 12 months and it has been hard for them. One struggle is that they don’t know any other lesbians with kids that have or are breaking up. My heart breaks for them and for you as this must be so hard. I wish you well going forward. Sounds like your goals for keeping love alive with your child and with the world during this difficult time are excellent. Also, we named our first daughter Moira and I love the name so much.

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