Think Before You Speak – Questions That Erk Me

In honor of Mombian’s 9th annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families, I am writing up a post I have been meaning to write for some time now. As always, my goal of this blog is not only to document our lives and the growing up of our Punky Monster, but also to get the point across that we are just like everyone else.

Yes. We are atheists.

Yes. We are lesbians.

And Yes. Our daughter is still healthy, loved, and nurtured.

So, I wanted to pick apart the questions I get asked pretty regularly. I’m an open book. I have always been an open book.

**See Unconventional Conception if you don’t believe me! I tell that story – in person, without hesitation to anyone who might be curious enough to get into the gritty details of our conception story. (You’d be surprised how many people want to know the details and then regret it when they learn them!)**

Which means that I answer cordially pretty much any question about our family, our parenting styles, our religion, or our lives in general without much hesitation. That doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed by the frequent questions that are bordering on over the line, I may not voice it, but perhaps, there might be some tact that people could exercise before asking these types of questions.

1. Who’s Mom?

Look, I try real hard not to make this awkward. It always ends up poorly. The very definition of ‘lesbian mom’ means the kid has TWO moms. I also attempt to really think about the fact that its probably really intended to be “Who carried your daughter?” which may be a valid question, it’s still presumptuous that the mom who carried Punky is her “real mother”, which is not the case.

No matter the law, no matter the tradition or the ideals of the world around us, we are always both her mothers.

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2. Does She Look Like Her Dad?

Well, again, I will define “lesbian mom”. Two moms. No dad. I mean, I know there are plenty of lesbian moms and families with two moms that do have contact with their donors. The donors are called all sorts of things, including Dad or Father in some family dynamics.

But, we really shouldn’t assume that. For my own family, we have contact with our daughter’s donor. He is and always will be a very special man in our life. We aren’t super close, in that we visit or hang out regularly, we don’t even talk on the phone or text message in regular intervals, but he will always have given us a gift we can’t ever thank him enough for.

He is still … not her dad. To most people it seems harmless, it seems like its no biggie, a slip up, not offensive. But … it is offensive. To my partner, to my daughter. It overshadows the very definition of my daughter’s family dynamic. The family she knows.

He’s wasn’t there holding my legs as I was pushing her out of a small hole. He wasn’t up with her at 3AM singing a made up lullaby in those first few weeks, so I could get a little sleep. He’s not catching her as she jumps without warning towards his arms. That’s Kim. And much more.

Basically, while it may seem harmless, it confuses my kid and I anticipate it will confuse her more as she starts to understand that some kids have dads and she doesn’t. When she really notices that she her family is different from others. Do me a favor. Its already going to be a weird conversation for me to have with my kid, don’t confuse her more.

(And if you ask anyone, she really does look just like me. I got myself pregnant is the joke around our family and friends!)

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3. Aren’t You Worried About Her Not Having A Father Around?

You know, I had a dad around. I still have a dad around. I love him to pieces, but he hasn’t always been the stand up dad that traditional June Cleavers are married to. Frankly, my dad has helped mess me up and I’m still in therapy working through the issues I have because of actions, a result of emotional distress in my childhood from having a father.

Do I think having a father is a bad thing? No.

But, do I think Punky absolutely has to have a father? Absolutely not.

We have discussed it before – Punky has more role models than a little girl could possibly had! She has one hell of a godfather in her life, who loves her to bits, like his own kid I would surmise. He is already planning on taking her hunting (which I will probably fight when the time comes), fishing, and teaching her how to do things with cars.

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I have no doubt my brothers will teach her all about comic books, video games, badass underground, never discovered local bands, and how to take the perfect picture of her poop (yes, that’s a thing).

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Kim’s brother is sure to bring a culture of motorcycles, tattoos and fast cars.

I know her grandpas have a wealth of knowledge in work ethic, humor and silliness, and overall doting and caring for her.

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And all the men in her life are sure to teach her how a man is supposed to treat a lady and she will be able to raise any man she dates to the standards they set in her eyes for her future mate. And should she, (personally, I hope not) be a lesbian, she will learn how to treat a lady right as well.

4.  Isn’t Punky Confused About What To Call You?

Okay, so this is a valid question. However, there is a much tactful way to ask it. Perhaps something like, “What does she call you? What does she call her other mother?” I have been asked, “Who’s Mama, Who’s Mommy?” That’s also acceptable. Some lesbian families have all sorts of different ways we help our kids distinguish between two moms.

We decided to sort of guide her in the process of picking a name, but not choosing the name for either of us. She just settled into Mommy for me and Mama for Kim. Both of which we are thrilled with. She’s not confused, because she doesn’t know anything other than having two moms and calling us what she calls us.

Its normal to her, no confusion – thanks for asking!

5. Isn’t It A Concern That She Will Be Teased Growing Up?

This is a very good thing to be concerned about. I don’t know if all lesbian or gay parents are worried about this. I know I was. I still am. I have been concerned – sometimes that we actively thought to have a child, in a world where having gay parents, being gay in general isn’t completely accepted (check out the states still banning gay marriage, HELLO MISSOURI.)

And then I remember that there are several states striking down the bans on gay marriage and it means that acceptance and tolerance is coming around. I put into perspective that Punky is only 2, she’s in preschool, where kids don’t care if she has two moms, her teachers are incredibly supportive and all my mommy friends want to meet Kim and if she wasn’t agoraphobic, they would with no issues.

So in the end, by the time she is school, real school, my hope is that kids will be taught about love and acceptance. That their kids will taught by parents the different ways to make a family, the different kinds of parents and family dynamics out there.

I am getting less worried and more optimistic. This question is a well meaning question, but it can be seen as presumptuous. It could be interpreted by some that you think I’m selfish for ‘daring to bring a child into an intolerant world, just to get bullied.’ I’m sure that’s not the intent, but it sure can be misconstrued.

**

These are my five pet peeve questions. I will always answer them, and they aren’t altogether offensive. But when I answer them everyone is then made to feel awkward. I’m uncomfortable, the person asking is uncomfortable because they made some ill-conceived, usually well intentioned faux pas.

So in the end, I’m more annoyed by the uncomfortable air around the question and the answers and the awkwardness that ensues around the whole thing.

Think before you speak, think about how your words may be interpreted. I won’t ever say out loud that your questions are offensive, stupid, or hurtful – but rest assured, I’m probably thinking it.

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12 thoughts on “Think Before You Speak – Questions That Erk Me

  1. Pingback: Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day: Master List of Posts – Mombian

  2. Such a great post Rachel! I too take issue with some of the questions mentioned but have yet to be asked all of them. Good for you for answering openly and honestly. I think as gay parents, that’s all we really can do to educate others about our unique families. Some questions are so inappropriate and shouldn’t even be asked but it happens. Punky is an incredibly lucky girl to have two loving parents. There are so many kiddos who don’t have that. Keep up the good work, Mommy. 🙂

  3. “Who is the mom?” is definitely my least favorite and I think I heard it and corrected it about a hundred times while my baby was in the NICU. I would have thought that the hospital would have done some kind of hour long “how not to alienate lesbian moms” training, or at least various personnel would have internet searched “why do lesbian moms hate me.”

  4. I forget where you guys live. Some of these questions you get astound me! But I’ve been living in my gay-friendly bubble here in Toronto for almost a decade.

    Interestingly, no one ever asks me about Evie’s dad, etc…I guess they’re too busy processing the fact that I’m a single lesbian mom…by choice! And they tend to stick to questions about that.

    I look forward to the day when gay/lesbian families don’t have to field questions like this.

    • LOL, and I am always envious when I read your stuff, I want to be your neighbor! But, seriously, its never maliciously intended, but it sure gets awkward. I think I’m mostly concerned for when Punky is old enough to understand these questions are being asked – or when someone asks about her “dad”.

  5. Awesome post. That’s for sharing and making me aware of things I am not normally exposed to. I really admire you, Rachael, and I know Punky is so lucky to have you and Kim as moms!

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