top of page

LIZ GLENN, part 2

BEAST MOTHER interview with Liz Glenn: part 2 



You have a non-traditional nuclear family that consists of your daughter, Mila, from a previous marriage, and your partner, Cam, who is nonbinary. It is clear when talking with you and viewing your work that your family is brimming with love and intentionality. Can you talk a little bit more about how you got here?






At 22, I was married to a man (Mila’s father). I feel like I wanted to have my daughter because I wanted a friend. I wanted a purpose; I was floundering. We got married because it was recommended to us by the church we belonged to. I thought we would be sufficiently happy together, but we had no idea who we were, or what we wanted. We were just patterning our lives after what a religious entity told us was appropriate - not any real conviction of our own. 


 I felt so isolated and alone at this time in my life. Something hardened in (my then-husband) when I got pregnant. The thought of leaving was scary to me. My husband was the one who “left” - it was the most compassionate thing he could’ve done for me.



How has motherhood altered your perspective?


Having Mila gave me life. So much of my journey has been trying to untangle the knots of where I stop and she begins. I’m having to redefine who I am apart from her. 


As a mother you’re supposed to be selfless. That is the capital G - Good Mother. We all know the idea of a perfectly selfless mother is a myth, but somehow I find myself chasing the opportunity to become that kind of mother anyway -  it’s like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Society is constantly telling us we need to be a certain way but none of us know how to be.





How did you and Cam fall in love? And how did your relationship evolve into the supportive blended family it is today?


Cam was a long time friend first. Cam has helped me grow - they steady me and ground me and have a really intuitive perspective. This has really helped me define facets of myself that I feel allowed to embrace for the first time.


We met through church friends - Cam grew up in church, and now it’s been an unraveling for them to understand their identity that was not embraced or acknowledged in their church community. I wasn’t raised in the church like Cam - I was a convert (by way of my former mother-in-law).


Cam confessed that they had feelings for me (for a whole year) when we were just friends. That initially made me turn inward - what do I want? Who am I? Can this work? I think there was some internalized homophobia there. 









The thing that really brought Mila and Cam together was bonding over a common interest: skateboarding. Mila was 7 when we first started dating, and she adopted Cam’s pronouns with ease. Kids are so versatile - it’s adults that are the problem. Mila has really gotten into graphic novels, and a lot of them are so inclusive and affirming. We all have identities that we’re trying on - we box things in so we can evolutionarily say “this won’t hurt us.” It’s primal - our society’s way of making sense of it. 


It was difficult because we started dating, but Mila thought Cam was just a friend. Around the same time, her dad moved out of town and she only saw him once a week. The culmination of all this was her exhibiting signs of anxiety. Out of nowhere, she would express her anger physically and take her feelings out on me. I know she feels safe with me, that she knows she can express herself openly with me, but it was really hard. 


 Just recently we were all sitting in the car and Mila said to Cam, “I tried to hate you for a long time because I thought you were replacing my dad.” It felt revelatory, that she could articulate those feelings - and that she felt comfortable enough to share them with us.





To be able to communicate openly at a young age is a gift; having a loving blended family is a gift. How do you manage to make it work so well?


With Cam and I: we’re in love. Now we’re enlisted. We’re in the proverbial trenches together. We try to allow Mila so much space, and Cam has infinite patience. If I could draw from that well, I would, but I identify much more with being a BEAST MOTHER. Our family is non-traditional and sometimes that scares me - it bothers me more than I let on. I’m with someone who is non-binary. We live in the Midwest. They are 7 years younger than me. It’s nothing I could’ve planned for - it is cosmic, kismet, convergent. I could’ve never dreamed this for myself.  I’m not that creative. 





Moving back to Michigan after living in California for a while - after I came out and left the church - it feels like no one wants to explain to their kids what our life is. It is incredibly isolating. I don’t know a lot of people who are like me, and there’s a lot I miss about the church community. I am living in the paradox. In between knowing what is right for me and yet wanting to conform. 


To belong to any group that doesn’t allow for my fullest self expression…it’s really been a journey of loss and paring back what I thought was real and solid. It’s living in the gray - this dangling in the in-between.




Images courtesy of www.lizglenn.com



1 Comment


Joy Carey
Apr 18

Like
bottom of page