By TMOM, featuring Guest Bloggers Corinne and Allison Groves-Neal
If you’ve been reading TMoM for any amount of time, you have seen us highlight the wonderful diversity among Triad moms, as well as all the different situations and circumstances in which we live. No matter our backgrounds, differences or commonalities, we love how one theme never fails to prevail: Simply put, we are moms above anything else. We are all moms working our hardest to be the best parents we know how to be because we love our children unconditionally.
Today we have the unique opportunity to feature Corinne and Allison Groves-Neal, a local same-sex couple who are mothers to daughter Blake (age 3) and son Davis (age 8 months). We are thrilled to introduce you to Corinne and Allison though a Q&A we recently had with them!
To give you some background…Corinne and Allison met at a social event hosted by the Adam Foundation, an LGBT group in Winston-Salem. They became friends first and a few months later began dating. They got married legally about a year later, July 16, 2012, in Washington, D.C. as it was not yet legal here in North Carolina. In May of 2013, after same-sex marriage was legalized in NC, they held a large Episcopal wedding in Bermuda Run at Winmock because they wanted their faith to be a part of their relationship, and for all of their friends and family to share in their love. Not long after, Allison gave birth to their daughter, in 2014 and Corinne gave birth to their son this past August. They were able to have children with the help of an amazing friend and donor whom they can never thank enough, and both Corinne and Allison say they are beyond blessed by their wonderful children!
Corinne is a middle school math and science teacher in Winston-Salem, and Allison is a Registered Nurse at Wake Forest Baptist Health. And so they say…”Corinne helps with school work, and Allison fixes the boo boo’s!”
When did you and Allison decide to have children? Was this something you both wanted right away, or did it take time to come to that decision?
Corinne: I knew I wanted to be a mom from the time I was a child and had planned in my mind that I would have my first child at 27, and then every two years afterward for a total of 4. On our very first date I talked to Allison about the desire for children because I knew that if she didn’t also want children there wouldn’t be a reason for a second date.
Allison: I think not having children would have been a deal breaker from the beginning. I am an only child and thought I would have been happy with just one child and Corinne has 3 brothers and wanted 4!!! So we compromised with 2 and I’m sure glad we did.
We know you both like to be equal in your parental roles. How do you share and/or divide up your responsibilities as parents?
Corinne: Usually people ask, “So which one of you is the dad?” For obvious reasons, no one is the dad (because we are both women), however I tend to take on the more masculine jobs in our household. My dad is very mechanically inclined and he taught me to work on the weed whacker, how to mow the grass, pressure wash a deck, and keep up the cars. On the other hand I am the one that paints Blake’s toenails, braids her hair and dresses her all up for church, and likes to bake. Allison is more “girlie” and is definitely the better cook. She likes to look up recipes and make elaborate meals. Since she only works three days a week, she is a stay at home mom the other days. But she is also more of the football fan, doesn’t care if the kids’ clothes match and is the breadwinner for our family. Neither of us like to do dishes or laundry-which is unfortunate because those are a daily activity. We divide the roles based on what we’re good at and what needs to be done-gender doesn’t get to matter. We do look forward to the day that Davis and Blake are big enough to unload the dish washer and put their own clothes away. But who doesn’t look forward to their kids doing chores?
What are the greatest challenges with a dual mother home?
Corinne: When our daughter was born people asked from the very beginning of her life, well before she would ever talk, what she was going to call us. In a mother/father home there is Mommy and Daddy so how could our children possibly differentiate between two moms? It was always our plan to be Momma, (Corinne) and Mommy (Allison). People told us that would be confusing and that we needed more specific names like Momma Corinne and Momma Allison or to choose the word mom in another language. We didn’t want to be called by our first names nor do we speak another language, so we stuck with Momma and Mommy. Now, our three year old will correct people when they refer to us incorrectly. At school her classmates will say, “Blake, your mommy is here.” Blake will look up at me, and look back at them and reply, “That not my Mommy; that’s my Momma.” No confusion for her in the least!
Allison: Our biggest challenge is probably something not unfamiliar to all of you, lack of time! It’s so hard to work and provide for your family and have time for your spouse and feel like everyone is getting a fair deal. It’s just impossible and I think as two women we feel that perhaps a little stronger since we both have that maternal instinct to nurture and be close to our kids. We both want to do bedtime routines and it’s hard when a child prefers one over the other sometimes. I think, “I birthed you. Don’t you realize that?! And you don’t want me to read you stories?!?!”
What are the greatest rewards with a dual mother home?
Corinne: The fact that there are two moms! Ladies, just think about if you had another you at home. Not to say that dads don’t help take care of the home or help with the kids, but we have many friends who have said they wish they could have a wife; someone else who would cook dinner, tuck the kids in and fold the laundry. It definitely is a perk to have another woman in the household. Since women tend to be more nurturing and understanding, we do truly understand each other and don’t have the same arguments that our friends in traditional relationships have because estrogen understands estrogen. (Not that we don’t have arguments, because let’s be honest there is at least one week a month when emotions run high.) We hope that will lend itself to help both our children be nurturing and sensitive, our son to always be respectful of women and our daughter to know she is capable. We already have arrangements for Davis to go stay with his uncles when all the women at his house are going through PMS. (Poor guy!)
Has your daughter noticed any difference in your family from other families yet, and if so, how do you – or how will you – explain the difference to her – if at all?
Allison: I think she is beginning to notice but doesn’t seem phased by it in the least. She knows I am “Mommy” and Corinne is “Momma.” And if asked if she has a daddy, her reply is “No, I have 2 mommies!” She has started mentioning daddies here lately and I assume she hears that at school and from her cousins. When she plays, I hear her saying…”Ok you be the daddy” or that’s the “daddy bear.” She seems perfectly content that she has two mommies and others may have daddies. I’m sure there will be more to come on this topic as she gets older so you may want to check back in with us in a few years 😉
Corinne: I have three brothers and both my dad and Allison’s dad are very present, active fathers and grandfathers. They are all great role models of what a father is and what it is to “be a man.” Blake went through a brief period where she called my brother “Uncle Daddy” because that’s what she heard his kids call him, so she just combined his title and his name. As Allison said, she often says she has two mommies and is unphased by not having a daddy. Both our children have godfathers that were chosen under the premise that they would need to “fill in” on occasions where a daddy was needed like for father-daughter dances and teaching our son how to stand to pee. I think we are overly aware of trying to fill their lives with strong, supportive, sensitive, loving men so they will have male figures to turn to when the time comes.
We all know family units are not all the same. What is your message to others on this topic?
Allison: Love makes a family! We have lots of books that we read to Blake about different families and have conversations while reading about how some families have two moms, a mom and a dad, that some children might live with just their grandparents or may be adopted. Teaching about all types of families is important for all children, but especially in our family because we know our children will face some adversity because of our family make up. We surround ourselves with diverse families and people we know will be positive and supportive of our children. Being confident in who we are shows them that differences are a wonderful thing! It takes a village to raise a child and our village includes traditional families, single moms with kids, families with adopted children, interracial families and other families with same-sex parents. We feel it is our job as parents to expose our children to as much diversity to prepare them for the world and make them open minded and accepting of all people.
What do you like best about raising a family in the Triad?
Corinne: The Triad has it all! We enjoy living in Clemmons because it’s such a quiet town but close to the downtown scene within ten minutes. Location is everything; the mountains are in our sights and the coast is a short drive away. We have wonderful parks, a great church community, yummy restaurants and kid friendly attractions. It is rare that we feel like we have nothing to do.
What do you and your family like to do in your free time?
Allison: We like to be outside to let little bodies get their energy out! We spend a lot of time at Tanglewood either playing on the playgrounds or looking at the horses. Corinne leads trail rides there in the summer so we see a lot of horsing around in our kids’ futures. We also love to travel. We just braved our first international trip with kids. We went to Nice, France for spring break and had an amazing time. Blake even ate escargot and loved it. There’s a video to prove it! But smaller trips are the best. We go to S.C. to see family monthly and to the coast about every other month. Thank goodness our kids are good car travelers!
Corinne and Allison, thank you so much for taking the time to have this Q&A with TMoM. We wish you the very best and thank you for sharing your beautiful family with us.
Want to ask Corinne or Allison a question of your own? Feel free by leaving a comment below, and they’ll do their best to respond as soon as they can.