“A toast to Heather!” by Leah Berkenwald

Reference: Jewish Women's Archive

This month, Heather turned 21. You know Heather – she is the girl with “two elbows, two earlobes, two kneecaps, and two mommies.” The children’s book Heather Has Two Mommies was the first of its kind to portray a family with two moms instead of a mom and dad. It was first published in December of 1989, and also in 1990, but as author Lesléa Newman says, “Like all children, Heather has a complicated history.” The story goes that in 1989, Lesléa Newman was approached on the streets of Northampton, MA, by a friend who said, “Listen. Somebody needs to write a book I can read to my child about a family like ours: a family with two moms and a daughter.” So Lesléa did.

Northampton is a small and very liberal town in western Massachusetts with a thriving lesbian community. It’s where Lesléa Newman is based, and it is also my hometown. Heather Has Two Mommies came out when I was four and my mom couldn’t wait to share it with me. She wanted to make sure I understood lesbian relationships because we had so many lesbian neighbors and friends. Just before I started third grade, a new family moved into the neighborhood with a daughter my age. Hannah, like Heather, had two mommies. Thanks to Heather, I found nothing strange about that. And that is the gift of Heather: kids aren’t born with notion that a family has to have mom and dad – that’s learned. And then unlearned. We’re not born thinking one is better than the other.

To continue reading, please click here.