Many of you know the phrase “curiosity killed the cat.” Well, when it comes to seeing two women with a child (and the child calls one of the women “Mom” and the other “Momma”) the curiosity cat most certainly comes out in many folks. Some people are less “obvious” in their curiosity. Well, when I say less obvious I mean they just don’t just come out and ask us directly. They do it in a more “subtle” “beat around the bush” kind of way but it’s still obvious. Sorry for the pun. Those are the folks Carol and I play along with until they can’t stand it any longer and ask us directly. Depending on the situation we may choose to answer them. Meanwhile, you wouldn’t believe the questions we have gotten over the years. Our kid is nine now, so we’ve had a few years to rack up a number of them. I must admit most are laughable….OK I have to be honest here. We laugh because it seems to be a much kinder way to deal with people’s stupidity than to be upset with them. It’s just not worth being angry because it’s really about that person’s ignorance (whether good or bad). So, as we say in the South, “Why bless their little hearts. They just can’t help it.”
At times when we are seen out at our local grocery store or restaurant some folks want to make my partner the grandmother and me the mom. I have to say my partner, Carol does not like that one which I can’t blame her. It insinuates she’s old which for the record she is not. Then there are others who want to make my partner and I sisters. OK, now that’s just gross, people. Once Carol and I were in the McDonald’s drive thru and the woman taking our money asked if we were sisters. Carol and I looked at each other as if to telepathically say, “Is that lady an idiot or what?” Our son was in the back seat at the time and even though he was too young to understand what was happening, he was old enough to say, “Mom and Momma.” And yet this woman thought we were sisters? If we put aside everything and only look at mine and Carol’s physical features, even that doesn’t make since because we look nothing alike. Carol has dark brown hair, I have red. She has green eyes, I brown. Her hair is straight, mine curly and big. Are you getting my drift here? So that one always makes us laugh. Sometimes to be funny I’ll look at Carol and say, “Hey, babe, we’re sista’s!”
What I find even more mind boggling is how difficult it is for some to think we are partners in a married kind of way. Because we can’t make a baby in the traditional way there are some people who just can’t fathom the idea. Once I was working for a non profit and Carol was going to drop by to bring my lunch. I needed to go to another part of the building and told the other staff member to alert me when my partner arrived. I was taken aback when she said, “Oh, what business do you have?” OK, I wasn’t just taken aback but I was momentarily very confused. Business? What the hell was she talking about? I guess because I was taking so long to answer her she asked me the question again. It was then I realized she wasn’t understanding what I meant by “partner”. That was when I told her, “Just like you have a husband…I have a partner.” Would you believe the woman argued with me for a good 20 minutes on how it was not possible? I could only laugh and say to her, “I suppose you’ve learned something because you are looking at a real live person where having a partner is possible.” Needless to say, she and I didn’t cross paths much after that incident which was fine with me.
The best is when a stranger who can’t contain his curiosity and is unable to hold back his opinions. We have been told, “There is no way two women can make a baby!” Thank goodness for those people to set us “straight”. REALLY? Are you kidding me? Do they really think we didn’t know how babies were made? Maybe because we seemed to have missed that memo that told us same sex relationships were wrong, we of course missed the memo that explained how babies were made. Certainly, I see the connection now. I am often stunned by that comment. It’s really comical how adamant they are about too. “Seriously, two women cannot make a baby!” My first response to that always wants to be, “No shit people!” But for whatever reason I show them more respect than they do to me and I am always polite. Once Carol and I were at a friend’s birthday party. We had Judah with us and an older man started to watch us. We could tell he was very interested in our family. Turned out the gentleman was coming up to me and Carol at separate times asking us bluntly, “Who is the real mother?” And each time the both of us would respond, “We both are.” Oh, he was so bothered and angry because in his mind there just wasn’t anyway our son could have two moms. I must admit I did have fun playing around with this gentleman…I know, my bad passive aggressive self. Bad me. Bad me.
And then there have been some really out there questions I’ve been asked such as, “So, did you both sleep with a man and whoever got pregnant was the one who had the baby?”, “Did you just have a one night-er?” and “Did you just find a gay guy and have sex with him?” Those kinds of questions I never acknowledge. But, if we were to take a tally of the most popular asked question it would be: wait, I need a drum roll, please. That would be: “So tell me, who’s the real mom?”
If I may be so bold to ask you, are you guilty of allowing your curiosity to over ride the politeness and respect your Mama’s taught you? At the very least please tell me you realized later you opened your mouth and inserted your foot. Now I’m not talking about if it was someone you knew. I’m talking about doing this to a total stranger. I’m sure there are some who have felt entitled to ask a gay couple such personal questions. After all if they are curious then their question isn’t a personal one, right? Listen, let me help those “Bless their little heart” folks who can’t quite get what I’m saying. If the question you are about to ask to a same sex couple is one you’d NEVER think to ask a heterosexual couple then I can guarantee you it’s NOT appropriate. That is typically a good rule of thumb to use and will always keep you in check. Listen, I totally get the fact people are curious. That’s human nature. For that very reason I am never rude to anyone who asks me a question. AND as long as the person is respectful to me I have always been comfortable answering them. It has been those rude curious people that really get under my skin but thankfully I haven’t had many of them. Even so, I address each person with dignity and respect. In some ways I do feel responsible for helping educate others, so that some of the stigma can be removed. If even just one person sees we are just like any other family then it is worth my time to speak to them. Here’s the other thing. By speaking to an actual person, I can help breakdown some of the negative stereotypes and show how we want the same successes for our kids too. I do have to warn you though. If you do ask me a question you will get a very honest answer with some possible flowery comments thrown in there as well. There’s just no telling. I mean no harm. I do that in many cases to help break the ice. And I don’t mean break the ice for the other person either. Sometimes I need that in order to maintain my composer and level of respect (depending on the question asked). Because as you can see there can be some interesting questions. Interestingly enough, some people think only dumb questions come from not so intelligent people. However on the contrary I have met many intelligent and wonderful people who have asked me some very dumb questions. And yes, there are dumb questions. I don’t care what your third grade teacher ever told you about there never being a dumb question. There is no doubt in my mind there are many dumb questions and I’ve concluded they come from ignorant people whether smart or intelligently challenged. It’s just amazing to me. A person would never in a million years think to ask a non-gay person the same question they ask a gay person. For instance would you ask a white heterosexual couple who the real parent was of their Asian looking child? OK, so maybe some people would. But for the most part when it’s a gay couple it’s as if people’s brains take a lunch break.
Here’s the thing. I know there are many wonderful people out there who are kindly curious about my family. There may be some of you who are guilty of asking inappropriate questions to a stranger because you just had to know. I call those people, “The impulsive curiosity cat”. So, if you are the impulsive curiosity cat type I’d really like to help you from embarrassing yourselves again and for those of you who never had the nerve to ask, I’d like to share my story. Grant you I am not the “poster child” for all gay people who have children. My story may not be like your gay neighbor’s story. This is only about me, my partner and our journey to having a baby together. (Sorry, C. I know you hate the word, “journey” but it fit so well.) Oh, hell, who am I kidding. Once we decided to have a child, it was as if we stepped into a roller coaster car, fastened our seat belts and held on for dear life for the ride of our lives. We just hoped we’d get to the end safely and of course with the baby of our dreams in hand.
I promise to be candid and open about each part of my roller coaster ride. My story will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will even possibly make you angry by some of the hoops we had to jump through. No matter what the emotion I hope you’ll find my adventure enlightening with possible aspects that will show you how similar we are. Ok, so fasten those seat belts because here we go!