Raising children is hard, and raising children as an LGBTQ parent presents unique challenges.
Brokerage project manager and 23-year UPSer Barbara Alayon and her wife, Michelle, have two sons, Marcel (17) and Dominic (20). As a family, they enjoy music, family trips, camping and cooking together. Currently, they’re making their way through a list of classic movies.
Barbara defines motherhood as “unconditional love with mutual respect,” and says it came easy to her because of the great example set by her own mother.
“One of the main challenges we face is who pampers who on Mother’s Day,” Barbara joked. “Truthfully though, we’ve always made it a point to be open and honest with both of our kids. I’ve found that I was more concerned about how my kids were viewed as a result of them having two moms than they were.”
She’s also found sharing family stories is a powerful way to connect with others who might judge LGBTQ families. “Telling your story demystifies, enlightens and allows others to see that we have the same hopes and fears, challenges and joys, and peaks and valleys as other parents.”
Like other families, Barbara, Michelle and the kids tried to make the most of being home during the pandemic, creating spaces for work and school.
“We created intentional spaces designated for work and school,” Barbara said. “When the day’s over, we shut down the computers and focus on family. During this last year, Marcel discovered his hidden talent of playing the guitar and I’ve been fortunate to have the role of audience member. I’ve also been teaching Dominic how to cook meals while he’s away at university and I’m told he’s gotten pretty good!”
Barbara also chairs the LGBTQ and Allies business resource group (BRG) for Canada and Latin America. The group strives to create an environment where UPSers are comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, not hiding who they are or omitting details of family life.
“When I was faced with an acceptance challenge by close family members, I advised them that my doors were open and when they decided to partake in the best part of my life, I would (and did) welcome them,” Barbara said. “You don’t need approval. Raise your kids the best you can and live your authentic life.”