“So, you play the father?”

There was a long wait for dinner tonight.  We went to out to our usual place, but were 30 minutes later than we would have liked.  The price: a 30 minute wait for a table.  They have a cool bench by the door which is often good for people watching or conversing with strangers.

I struck up a conversation with a very nice woman with a young daughter.  Turns out, we have both lived log stretches of our lives in New England and know people in common.  It really is a small town.

We talked about a lot of things, but what stands out to me is the part of the conversation where I was trying to explain this blog, the book Charlotte and I are working on (details to come), and what exactly ‘non-gestational mother’ means.

I said, “I think non-gestational mothers have a lot in common with fathers in regards to how they are treated by the public at large.”

The conversation continued a little with me explaining that a non-gestational parent is someone who did not give birth to their child.

“Is he adopted?” she asked referencing my son.
“No.  S gave birth to him.”
“OHHHHHH,” she gasped after she finally got what I meant.
“So, you play the father role?” she asked very sincerely trying to understand.
“Um.  No.  I am his mother, too.”

Sometimes people amaze me at their lack of common sense.  A relative of mine once asked my mom who plays the man, S or me.  She said, “Neither.  There is no man.  That’s kind of the point.”

S and I were talking yesterday about how when someone is different from you, they often take that difference as license to ask really personal and often insulting questions.  While she was obviously well intentioned, this woman’s confusion over how exactly we make it all work made it seem like she has been living under a rock for the last twenty years.

Two women. One kid.  No father.  That is how it works.

-Betsy

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6 responses to ““So, you play the father?”

  1. I think it’s cool that she asked a question, even if it seems like a silly one. In my humble opinion, that’s part of what it’s going to take to get people comfortable about gay parenting and gays in general. To see that we’re not very different from everyone else. Maybe she’ll remember you and your family — those nice gay people — and it will help her see things in a new light.

    • Yes. I would MUCH rather people ask questions than make silent assumptions. She really was well intentioned, which I appreciated. I think the clarity I could offer will be helpful to her in the future. Thanks for reading and commenting!
      -Betsy

  2. One of the things that strikes me about this conversation is the assumption that there is such a clear definition of roles between mother and father. If that was true in previous generations, it is much less so now. After 13 years, we’ve started to figure some things out in my house. I cook a fair bit. A does the laundry. Sometimes one or the other of us will clean a toilet. Ok, on rare occasions one or the other of us will clean a toilet. But when it comes to who is going to leave work early because we got a call from school or what to do during that weird 3-day week in the summer, there is no assumption that one of our jobs is more important or one of our “extracurriculars” has particular precedence.

    At least not in our house. Out in the world it might seem strange that we would not move so that I could advance my career or that A is the one studying martial arts. The shifting expectations can be hard to reconcile with the life we are trying to build, so I am grateful that you offer your perspective to this discussion. Gay couples have helped straight people look beneath the surface of their own relationships to get to what is real. Families with same gender parents are helping families with opposite gender parents do the same.

  3. I tend to come at these questions with blunt honesty… though it unintentionally usually embarrasses them. I still get asked where I got my kids from… it’s annoying. but eh.
    People will learn and it’s great that you are open enough to talk to them. It would just be nice if people would also just take a beat to think before speaking.

  4. Lesbian moms and their sons. It’s a beautiful relationship.

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