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.

The Questions We Are Asked – Part 1

So, I read a blog on Babble.com written by a lesbian woman who is trying to conceive with her partner. She wrote a blog about The Questions That Are OK To Ask Gay Parents and it got me thinking. These are questions that I asked myself and my partner. It inspired me to write my own blog. I decided to break it into different questions though. So here’s the first Question answered by me.

How Did We Decide Who Would Carry Our Child?

Carrying a baby means you can’t
 see your toes!

I’m not sure why this question would make people think I would be offended. It really is a valid question. We were planning for an nontraditional family and its better to ask your questions and get the appropriate answer. I would rather that than someone guess and be wrong.

Most lesbians that I speak to or read about have planned to have more than one child. My partner and I have only planned to have one child, so this decision was pretty difficult. We would not have the opportunity to share the role of biological mother.
Being women, of course we both wanted to carry the child. It’s sort of something about the biological clock ticking in women. With the exception of my best friend, I have never met a woman who didn’t want to carry their own child. I know women out there exist, but for the most part, women want to have babies. If you can’t have a baby, it’s a little disappointing.
With Kim and me, we talked about it a great deal and weighed a lot of the pros and cons for each of us. There are a lot of factors to think about. How do you keep the partner involved in the process? How will the family of the ‘other mother’ feel about it? How is insurance for the baby and delivery for the mother handled?
All sorts of things came to mind, but these were the biggest factors for us.
In the end, we decided on my carrying the child we were planning for. This is because my partner had a pretty rough last year. She was diagnosed with several mental illnesses and she simply wasn’t interested in passing those onto our child. I wouldn’t have been concerned about it, but she was. She also pointed out that she is on a lot of medication for her disorders so it wouldn’t be healthy for her or the baby.
With her many illnesses, my partner was also deemed disabled in the eyes of the government. This means that she doesn’t currently have a job, and she likely won’t have one in the future. This works for our family. I am okay with it. I love her regardless of the circumstances. However, this means that she doesn’t have health insurance. She is covered, thank goodness, on my insurance at work. 
We wanted my pregnancy and delivery to be covered through my insurance, but we also wanted to make sure the baby was covered when she was born. I wasn’t clear on the details on my insurance regarding domestic partner biological children. So, that was another factor for us. I knew that my biological child would be covered on my insurance.

Our baby has 2 mommies, it doesn’t
matter who is biological.



My job gives maternity leave, so that was nice. Kim is not working so she is a stay at home mommy. I never really would have thought of our roles in that manner, but its works wonderfully. Peyton doesn’t have to go to daycare which saves on money and sickness. Also, I can get out of the house. I really wouldn’t make a very good stay at home mommy. 

In the end, these were the factors we chose for who would carry our child. It was a tough decision and I am thankful that her family still feels included in Peyton’s life and understands that even though Kim didn’t carry our daughter, she is in fact her mother. Both of our families accept our decision and it has not affected them negatively at all. Frankly, if I thought Kim and I would be splitting in the near future and that things would get ugly, I would have never dreamed of starting a family with her in the first place. 
As it stands, it doesn’t matter to us who carried Peyton. In the end, no matter what happens between Kim and I in the future (nothing is predicted to change) Peyton will always be Kim’s daughter and her family will always be a part of her life.

Kim and her Mom. Peyton will always
have her Grammy, no matter who her
biological Mommy is.

Later, I will tackle the other questions mentioned in the inspired blog post I read: Whose Last Name Will the Baby Have? What Will Your Child Call You? Will You Discuss The Donor With Your Child? What Do You Do On Father’s Day? 

Stay Tuned. More to come.
Take Care