Elvira Kurt: “We ended our relationship, but we didn’t end our family”

The comedian and mother of two discusses the origins of her unbreakable family.

Photo: Hill Peppard

Elvira Kurt is a Toronto-born stand-up comedian and comedy writer. She is the mother of 12-year-old Madeline and eight-year-old Xander with her ex-partner, Chloe.

In my late 30s, I started to think, I would like to be a mom. It wasn’t well thought out, though. If I took the amount of time I take trying to pick the right pair of sunglasses, then I would never do anything because, 10 years later, I still wouldn’t have picked those sunglasses. I hit a stage in my life where I thought, It would be fun to be a mom.

But I knew very clearly that I didn’t want to have the experience of carrying a baby. I met Chloe, whom I love deeply, who wanted to be pregnant and enjoyed being pregnant. I already had the sperm donor in mind, Bob Smith, another stand-up comic from a very pivotal troupe back in the late ’80s called The Funny Gay Males.

We were worried that he would be over-involved, but circumstances dictated otherwise. Around the time that Maddie was three years old, Bob was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). You can plan for all kinds of things, but life unfolds the way it’s meant to and you constantly have to go with the flow. Now I just wish that Bob was 100 percent healthy and I wouldn’t care how involved he was.

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Maddie was born while I was doing my talk show, Popcultured. I had never worked so hard on anything. It was 14-, 15- and sometimes 16-hour days. It was such a profound disappointment to put all that work into it and then it just stopped. I went from 16 hours to zero hours.

Once that shock wore off, it was like, “Oh my God, I had a baby!” During that time, it seems like an eternity when you’re in it—every parent knows that—but when you look back, it was a blip! It was nothing. It’s good that it happened that way because, left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have chosen that wisely. You never approach the end of your life and say you wish you’d worked more.

Chloe and I were together up until Maddie was seven. We grew apart as a couple—it happens—but we were both on the same page about it. Instead of choosing to find our way back, we chose to find something else. We ended our relationship, but we didn’t end our family. That’s important for the kids to see.

If you do choose to end your relationship, queer or straight, you have to communicate better than you did when you were together. We are a united front now. We’ve achieved the harmony that was one of the reasons why I was willing to walk away from the relationship after we’d been apart.

Kurt is a writer on
The Great Canadian Baking Show, which premiered on CBC on November 1.

Read more:
Dolly Parton: “It wasn’t meant for me to have kids”
Kordale Lewis: “Be the parent that you didn’t have as a child”

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