A white house with a picket fence.
Yes, it sounds trite but that's what you've always wanted. Ever since you watched those old reruns on TV --- the ones from the '50s where the father wears a hat every day --- you dreamed of coming home to the smell of cookies baking, a houseful of family and toys on the sidewalk.
Oh, and that picket fence. For some reason, that's an important detail.
For author Zach Wahls, the word "family" has similar meaning with a different normal, and a picket has nothing to do with a fence. In his new book "My Two Moms," he explains.
From the moment he was conceived, Zach was a member of an unusual family.
His mother, Terry, was an unmarried internal medicine physician at a Wisconsin hospital when she decided she was ready for children. But first, she had to convince doctors to do the in vitro fertilization because they said they did not "do" illegitimate children.
A few years later, she had the procedure again with the same donor and gave her son a biological sister because a family was what Terry always wanted. It was icing on the cake when Terry met Jackie and they fell in love.
For most of his early childhood, Zach didn't think much about the fact that he had two moms. It was no big deal to other kids, so it was no big deal to him. When the family moved to Iowa to live closer to Terry's mother, though, Wahls encountered teasing and bullying.
But his mothers had raised him with good values, and they instilled a sense of character in their son. They taught him that boys and girls are equal but different and that there is no "better" gender. They showed him that the world is "rarely black and white." He learned that words can hurt, and so can being told that you have no rights.
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From his "Short Mom," he learned the meaning of commitment and loyalty. His "Tall Mom" taught him cheerfulness. And when Zach was asked to testify in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, both moms' lessons of bravery were evident.
Looking for a book that will warm your heart and make you proud of young men like this? "My Two Moms" will do the trick.
However, the author bounces from thought to thought in this memoir, giving us half a story here, half there, and something completely different in between. That's appealing, in an eager puppy sort of way, but this literary spill makes a mess sometimes.
Still, Zach's main message boldly holds this book together and overcomes the chaos to shine through. Love is love is love, he shows his readers, and gender doesn't make any difference. Gender is not what makes a family.
In his book, Zach asks, in many ways, "What's the big deal?" I think the answer lies in his story. If you've been asking the same question, look for "My Two Moms" and picket up.
'My Two Moms'
Author: Zach Wahls with Bruce Littlefield
Publisher: Gotham Books, 2012