Allison Bickford is having a baby, and she’s very excited. She’s had the ultra sound magic and discovered a girl in there. (Haddie.) 

Like all mothers-to-be, she was thrilled to see the image. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of that process. It seems to take all the joy out of the miracle, spoiling the surprise and everything.

So Allison is having a baby, and it’s arriving the day after the Fourth of July. How American is that?

Everyone, of course, is very excited, especially her barista teammates at Starbucks in Waterville, where Allison is shift supervisor, a job she’s very good at. Everyone there wears black, which is a great color when you’re growing a belly. I can vouch for that.

Allison’s mother, Linda, is naturally very excited, giggling, jumpy, hand twitching, excited, because Allison is her only child, her only bridge to grandma land. But for a long time, it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Now, she’s running around telling everyone the news in breathless bursts of energy, like Dorothy just back from Oz and eager to spread the news about the color of that road.

Linda Bickford had always been the most loving supportive mother, and Allison, the obliging, loving daughter, always eager to please.

While in high school, she wore her hair long to please Mom, though she hated it.  Things changed when Allison, working on her degree in psychology at the University of Maine at Farmington, shifted gears, cut her hair super short and pierced her nose and lip. Her grades slipped at the end of her first year.

Linda’s heart vibrated. Who was this woman? What was going on? A struggle was going on, a struggle for identity. Then came the day no parent is prepared for, certainly not a Maine mother, not of her generation. It started like, “I’ve been wanting to tell you this for a long time.” There it was. She was gay. It’s a small word now, soft like rain. Then, it was a thunder clap.

Linda fell apart. She cried and felt all the dreams of being a grandmother fade to black. She imagined her lovely daughter covered with tattoos, rings on her fingers, bells on her toes, perched on the back of a Harley with a weightlifting “wife,” clad in black leather. Such was the conventional cliche-soaked imagery of her time.

But there would be no Harley in Allison’s garage, just a Yamaha motor scooter. Allison’s partner would not lift weights nor work on truck engines. Her partner, Becky Deschaine, is a lovely, soft-spoken teacher who looks just like the teacher down the hall. Imagine that? With the proverbial closet door kicked open, Allison’s life filled with sunlight and fresh air. Together, she and Becky have a nice house on a shady street and two cars, and oh yes, the scooter. And Linda? She’s going to be a grandma.

Of course, Allison and Becky’s adventure is commonplace in America today. It’s the stuff of sit-coms and movies. They are a part of the American phenomenon of gay women such as singer Melissa Etheridge, comedian Rosie O’Donnell and, gasp, conservative Mary Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, bringing new life onto the planet.

The surge has even attracted its own label “The Gayby Boom,” according to gay-issues writer Becky Downrose, who founded myalternativefamily.com. She  points out that several surveys put the number of two lesbian mothers at more than 3 million.

So Allison and Becky are having a baby, and no matter how skewed the vision of those on the fading side of history, they will be parents. They will change diapers at two in the morning, go to parent teacher meetings, kiss boo-boos on scraped knees, and one day become mothers-in-law. How American is that?

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: