Zap!

Last week, Catch was picking Charlotte up from school, and a little girl asked her, “Does Charlotte have two moms?”

Just a few weeks prior to that, I emailed the school’s director because the camp enrollment forms had fields for “mother” and “father.” I told her it felt uncomfortable to have to put one of our names next to “father.”

There are some women who walk in our neighborhood often, and we run into them from time to time. They think I’m Charlotte’s mother and that Catch is my sister. We’ve never corrected them because their English isn’t great and they mostly just marvel at how fast Charlotte is growing, but someday, Charlotte’s going to catch on to those little lies of omission.

While we were out shopping with Charlotte the other day, Catch ran to the restroom briefly. When Charlotte realized she was gone, she started screaming, “LITTLE MAMA! I NEED LITTLE MAMA! WHERE’D LITTLE MAMA GO?!” People stared at me as if I was kidnapping her.

I get so lost in my little “yay, gay!” cocoon sometimes that these little moments when I’m reminded that we’re different from other families are jarring—like a static shock. You’re just going about your business and then zap!

I remember the time (years ago) when Catch and I were crossing the street after a sushi date and someone threw a full water bottle at us from their car window as they drove by and screamed, “Fucking dykes!” We weren’t even holding hands. We scurried away as fast as possible—heads down, not making eye contact with anyone around us. We were hurt and embarrassed…. And now I think, what if Charlotte had been there? How long will it be until she witnesses a scene like that? How long before she’s made fun of for having two moms? How long before some unenlightened parent at school won’t invite her to a birthday party or include her in a play date because of her two moms?

Because really, it’s only a matter of time. It’s not if… it’s when. No matter how far we’ve made it, there is still so far to go. I forget sometimes… until that familiar zap reminds me. I’ve had 20 years of practice having my heart broken by society because of who I love. (Wow—20 years. When did that happen?) Who will be the first to break my daughter’s heart?

More importantly, who will bail me out of jail when it happens?

 

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11 thoughts on “Zap!

  1. Oh Gawd, I so feel you on this post. we had a similar incident. S and I were walking down the street with Mabel in her stroller (she was less than 6 months old) and someone screamed Pussy Snatchers! as they drove by. We weren’t holding hands or anything. I think about it a lot and what I would have said to Mabel if she had been older when that happened. We have a nanny share and she has started calling the dad of the other family Daddy. She doesn’t know what that means yet, she just knows her playmate yells “Bye Daddy” when he drops her off in the morning. So naturally, she thinks that’s his name. He’s super awkward about it though and I’m just waiting for that “what’s a daddy and where’s mine” conversation in a couple years….

  2. Start with Todd Parr books NOW. Then branch out and find more books that normalize families that look different from mom&dad as only parents. Talk now about how different families can be. Your daughter has two moms, some children have 2 dads, some have one parent of some gender or even a non-binary gender, talk now and make different normal. Some children have a dead parent, some children have a divorce and 2 men and two women in parental roles. Make being in a 2 woman family not strange, and remember your child may run into adoption and foster children too. FAMILIES are families there is not a right or wrong to it. Some people have blue eyes, some have brown, some have different skin shades or hair types NORMALIZE DIFFERENCES and that DIFFERENCE IS NOT BETTER OR WORSE JUST DIFFERENT. When children ask about a parent they think is normative simply say what is true. Ask if the child would like to have 2 same gender parents. Say in front of your child that just as people have differences in height families can vary too! Share with your daughter than X has a male parent called Daddy and she has two moms and the difference is just different not better or worse. NORMALIZE THE TRUTH.

  3. Oh my god this is all to real a fear…. My only hope is that our kids will somehow be emotionally more resilient than we may have been when harassment came our way, because they’re being raised in families where we value diversity, value being true to ourselves, and value standing up for ourselves and others. I hope that our kids are able to feel strong, like they have meaning and power in their roles to correct people who are ignorant, to help people see how normal we are, and to find some sense of satisfaction from being a role model for diversity. I can only hope….. This is a tough subject to face.

  4. Oh man, I totally get the ‘zap’ feeling too. I’ve witnessed a couple interactions where one of my kids has explained they have 2 moms and no dad, I think every adult witnessing was holding their breath and waiting to see what came out of their kid’s mouth. So far everything has been taken in stride, but we also don’t have any relationships with religious people, or overtly bigoted people. As their social circles widen, it will come though.

  5. Northerner and I had a similar situation happen to us too. We went for a walk on the beach, and we weren’t holding hands or even walking that close to each other. I was in a skirt with my hair down. Northerner was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Literally nothing about us screamed “gay,” and this JA in a truck drove by and screamed at us the same thing, “Fucking Dykes.” I felt uncomfortable the rest of our walk.

  6. I grew up only with my mom. As far as I can remember, I knew that others have dads too, but I also knew that I was happy in my family of me and mom and I didn’t feel like anything was missing. So when someone asked me, that’s what I told them. You reminded me of it.

  7. So much this. Just this morning my two littlest were talking to each other on the way to daycare about how they have two mommies. It was super cute and totally “normal” to them. I got to thinking how will it be for them when it isn’t normal to someone else and they make fun of or bully them. Anytime we are in a new school/daycare/team sport situation and people realize our kids have two moms I hold my breath.

  8. If having two parents of the same gender is the biggest problem your children have to face then your children are exceptionally amazingly fortunate and super unusual. Teach compassion, kindness, coping, resilience, to recognize danger in various forms and sounds and actions AND HOW TO REACT. Being alive isn’t easy and it doesn’t look like it is going to become easier. Bigotry and prejudice of many many forms abound and your child will encounter them. You need to model courage and talk about it all. And then after your children are grown you do the same thing for grandchildren and every human being you ever encounter. LGBTQ is only of a HUGE array of potential problems… maintain perspective.
    I am now feeling like an evil bully and I do not intend that. But raising children is hard and we all need to find our strength and courage and go forth to the battle or there will be no hope ever. I have faith LGBTQ families can help move the world towards a better place of greater equality for all.

  9. I don’t think us rainbow families will ever have the answer – it’s just a case of making sure our kids know that any hate or ignorance they face is the other person’s problem or fault, not theirs. I hope so anyway. We’re really lucky in that T’s current nursery (kindergarten) is awesome and we’ve had no funny looks (not that I’m really looking – I’m still in my ‘yay-gay’ bubble) from parents and his carers are super inclusive.

    Don’t get me wrong – it scares the shit out of me – but we will deal with it when it arises. Any time before and I’ll probably give myself a coronary! We’ll be here every step of the way to support you if anything does happen!

  10. This post really resonated with me, because I fear the same thing. Thank you for your candor and for articulating this so well. I think a lot of other people feel this way too, so I highlighted this post on our front page at http://lgbtqparenting.com/ today. Thanks for sharing this (and I’m enjoying your blog as a whole)!

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