Sweet Objects: Memories of Our Two Moms
We asked Anna and Cooper Millholland, sisters and cofounders of L.Y.L.A.S. to share their stories about life with two moms.
I had a pretty great childhood. Most kids would think it would have been rough; having moved to a new state after your parents divorced, and when you get there, your mother has started dating a woman who now lives with you. It wasn’t hard for me. I was only seven-years-old and didn’t know it was weird if your parent starts dating someone of the same sex as them. I found my mom’s new girlfriend (now wife), Rachael, to be awesome, kind, funny, and she seemed to get me. She didn’t find me weird at all when I told her I almost went on a plane to China instead of Virginia. She was a perfect addition to our family.
It wasn’t until later that year, when I had my best friend over to our house, that I learned having lesbian parents was weird. We we’re hanging out in our kitchen, and we had a side door that looked into our carport. My mom and Rachael were out there affectionately hugging, like parents who are in love do. My friend, who comes from a conservative home, noticed them and said to me, “Why is that woman hugging your mom like that?” I flatly replied, “Because they love each other. What do you mean?”
As I said before, I had a very fortunate childhood. I grew up in a household with two parents who loved each other and loved their kids, biological or not. All we were ever taught in our house was how to love unconditionally (and over share our feelings).
There's nothing like the feeling of being in my parents house. Almost everything has been passed down from some relative. Rooms full of objects and paintings and furniture from so many families that ended up with us. My favorite origin story belongs to a mosaic made by my grandfather's ex-girlfriend's mother. Since they remodeled a few years ago I've never actually lived in this iteration of that house, but sitting all together in the sprawling family room I feel a such a sense of being a part of something that is only ours. We believe that objects, even purely decorative ones, are powerful.
This past year my parents relationship struggled. It was really bad, and I walked around with my heart breaking. Once when I was grocery shopping Loretta Lynn's "This Old House" came up on the playlist I was listening to and I cried in the middle of Whole Foods. It had truly never crossed my mind that my mom and Rach wouldn't be together forever.
I've wondered if this is partly because growing up I often had to defend my family. The world was really different 20 years ago. When you're a kid just having parents is embarrassing. Having parents that are different, and to some "wrong," is a lot. It's insane that I had to defend them but I did, proudly. They didn't officially get married until after I'd finished college, when it was finally made legal in our area. We all dressed up and went to city hall and it was my favorite day. Still, I don't think having to fight for my family is what made me believe in us so much. I think it's because we really love and like each other. We make jokes and dissect our personal dramas and recite embarrassing stories about each other. We get along great on road trips. We're very happy. I always thought we were remarkably happy.
And now things are getting better for them, and I really can't express how important that is.
A couple weeks ago they were looking for my baby book under the bed (I needed to know the exact time I was born to I confirm my rising and moon signs). They didn't find it but my mom sent me pictures of some of what was shoved under there- a worksheet from my 12th grade health class horrifyingly titled "STD prevention bingo," a little novelty book, Nancy Drew's Guide to Life, that delighted Rachael. It was all silly little things, nothing that would become an heirloom, but I loved thinking of them sitting in my old room, examining the odd and sweet objects that build up over time.
My parents have taught me so much about commitment, and that life is long and being a person is hard, and that love can endure.
NCLR is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.