Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger: Charlotte Capogna-Amias

So This is Happening

It’s upon us: our three-and-a-half year old daughter only wants to wear dresses or skirts (it is a tiresome battle to get her to agree to wear a pair of pants; even on very cold days), everything she likes is pink, she looks in the full-length mirror in our bedroom after she gets dressed (she picks out her own outfits) to “see how she looks”… the list goes on.  SIGH.drawings of girls in frilly dresses

We have tried to be good gender non-conforming, queer parents.  I swear we have.  Partly, as a fellow parent at our daughter’s preschool rightly put it, “we are victims of our hand-me-downs” which resemble a pile of sherbet when dumped out of the trash bag upon receiving them.  Don’t get me wrong- I am super appreciative of those hand-me-downs, despite their hues; they have saved us hundreds of dollars since our daughter was born.  And the reality is that unless you can afford ultra-pricey clothes from brands like Tea, Baby Gap and Mini Boden, you’re getting gender-conforming garb.

Lately, our daughter has been talking in this high-pitched voice, to the point where she talks normal and then catches herself and says, “I mean…” and continues in the high-pitched din.  Did I say, “sigh” yet?  I think I’ll take another: SIGH.

Ok, so let me be clear about something if you don’t already know this about me: I’m pretty darn femme-y.  I wear make-up most days, simply because I like it when lightly (and sometimes not so lightly) applied… I mostly where dresses or skirts to work, I take a long time styling my hair.  These things are all true.  And I know my daughter watches me do these things, quite likely taking some mental notes.  My spouse, her bio mom, is a soft butch.  She showers, slaps some concrete-like product in her short hair and is ready within five minutes.  I just want my daughter to understand that there are options, and seeing how the tide moves, perhaps particularly for little children around gender, these last few months have been slightly frightening.  I mean take this recent incident (albeit slightly comical):  I have been exploring some different progressive spiritual communities in the area where we live and there are these two places- a Congregationalist church and Quaker meeting- where we have mostly ventured as a family.  I was debating one morning about whether to go to Quaker meeting or the church and my daughter quickly said, “To meeting please!”  So I’m all thinking she likes it there, it’s more her scene, COOL.  Well, while I was foolishly thinking she got some spiritual enlightenment from the Quaker’s calming silence, in fact, it was the play high-heeled shoe collection in the playroom that had her goat.  The Quakers had a verifiable colony in those dress-up bins and my daughter couldn’t have been more pleased.  Hell, a drag queen would have been pleased.

I mean, I get it.  She sees this stuff everywhere.  She takes note of who holds power and lore in the occasional books she comes upon with fairies and princesses.  She doesn’t watch TV, we don’t buy books like that, but it’s out there.  There’s actually more upsetting things about race and looks that bother me on an even deeper level that are surfacing (our daughter’s biracial).  I don’t want to get into that in this particular post, but let’s just say: this stuff is deep.

– Charlotte

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Introducing: Jen Daigle-Matos

(First ever guest blogger!!!  Yeah!  Please welcome Jen to the fold!  I am excited to introduce new voices to TBBW.  Thanks for reading, sharing and being in touch.
-Betsy)

My Daughter Calls Me “Da-da”

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It happened without warning. I walked in to Ita’s room as she pulled herself up inside her crib. My one-year-old grunted as she stood, looked at me, smiled, and exclaimed “Da-da!”

“Hmmm”, I thought. “Maybe she meant TA-DA! like ‘look, Mamí, no hands!’” I shrugged it off. She doesn’t have a dad–not the put-your-bike-together-interrogate-potential-boyfriends type of dad–and she has no idea about gender roles or norms. We haven’t had that conversation yet because…she’s one. I folded her clothes and left the room to hear “Da-da-da-da!”  Peeking my head back in, I corrected “Hi Ita, Mamí’s here.”

“Da-da!” she squealed back. My wife chuckled. “It’s just something new she is saying. She doesn’t know the difference between mama and dada. It’s okay” I consoled myself. I shared my new moniker with friends at Ita’s first birthday party. “You know, she’s been calling me Da-da. Isn’t that funny?” My guests looked awkwardly at their hands. I fretted, “People will think I’m confusing her, that I am going to screw her up because I’m gay.  I’m too butch looking. Maybe I can soften my edges?” I questioned if I was a good parent, if I deserved my amazing little girl.

Later, I sat alone playing with Ita. The littlest things I did made her laugh. She told me stories that were detailed and serious, read me a book she held upside-down.  She fell asleep; snoring in my arms as I laid her down in her crib. I went downstairs and noticed the screen saver on our television. There was a picture from our first quiet moment in the hospital. One of me holding her at the pumpkin festival. A series my wife had taken showing how Ita and I fall asleep together in the same position. I smiled and thought about how my little girl means the world to me.

From the monitor I heard her stirring, which soon turned to crying. I hurried up the stairs taking two at a time. I walked in to Ita’s room as she pulled herself up inside her crib. Tears ran down her tiny face as she stood, she looked at me, and in the weepiest voice squeaked “Da-da”. I scooped her up in my arms and wiped the tears away. As I held her tight, I reassured her, “It’s okay, baby. Da-da’s here.”

-Jen

Jen Daigle-Matos lives in western Massachusetts with her wife of seven years, their daughter (to whom Jen is the non-biological Mamí), and their whippet/poodle mix breed, “Moof”. When Jen isn’t chasing her baby or her dog, she teaches courses and consults on topics of diversity and social justice. She identifies as Puerto Rican and enjoys discussing what it means to be a woman of color co-parenting a White child. Jen holds a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.