Tag Archives: father

Two Mamas

images-4Yesterday at the playground I could tell M was working something out.  He would look at the family next to us, three kids and their dad, then smile a little.  I didn’t think much of it.  He was more than content on the tire swing, so we just kept swinging.  After a few minutes went by, he looked at me, smiled and said, “Their daddy is pushing them.  That’s funny.”
“Why is that funny?”
“Just funny.  M doesn’t have a daddy.  M has two mamas.  A Mama and an Ima,” as he threw back his head and laughed a big open mouth laugh as he continued to spin around while he flew back and forth.

The other day, my mom told me that a friend of hers asked what we are going to tell M about not having a father.  She apparently said it like “that poor thing”.  We have always been honest with M about having two moms and not having a dad.  Of course we will explain what a donor is one day, but M is being raised to know that there are all kinds of families.  His Ima has one dad and no mom.  I have a mom and a dad.  He has friends with one mom, a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads.  We surround ourselves with loving people from a variety of contexts.  So, to my mother’s friend, we tell him he has two moms who love him more than anything.  Seems to me, he’s gotten the message.

-Betsy

Awkward

Remember how the other day I said that no one has ever asked me about physical attributes of M’s “dad”?  Two days ago some one did.

M and I went on a tour of a pre-school (YIKES!). The room was tiny, like a walk-in freezer with windows and small people milling about and toys all over the floor.  After about fifteen minutes of awkward play, M was ready to go.  On the way out the door, one of the teachers asked how old he is.

“He turned two in December,” I told her.

“He’s really tall.  Is his dad tall?”

“He doesn’t have a dad,” I replied.

Before I could explain,

“Oh. How tall are you?”  She didn’t stop to breathe.

“I didn’t give birth to him.  His other mother gave birth to him and she is also 5’6.”

“Oh.  He’s tall,” she said like a closing paragraph summing up the thesis.

The topic of conversation did not feel awkward, but this woman sure was!  I think she must be used to talking to adults in really short spurts throughout the day, never being able to have an entire conversation at one time.  Her speech was rushed, quick like a bunny.  Before I could even formulate a thought in response, she was wiping a nose with one hand and holding a book she was reading aloud in the other while I was breathing deep for her.

-Betsy

“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

Papa

My son called his friend’s father ‘Papa’ and I freaked out.  You see, my boy loves other boys and men and is obsessed with facial hair and ‘boy parts’.  I don’t have facial hair or boy parts.  My boy called a man ‘Papa’ and I was suddenly picturing being rejected by my son in 11 years, when he is 13 and wanting to do boy things with other males.  Will he still love me, the mother who did not give birth to him but who is also not a boy?

When M was first starting to explore the world around him, he took a shine to remote controls.  We used to joke that he was a stereotypical male: remote controls, facial hair and breast milk were his favorites.  But now, that isn’t so funny because sometimes I worry that my femaleness will not be enough for him.   I am an athlete and hope that will give me some credit, but I have never mastered peeing standing up (plus his friends will tease him mercilessly if he has two mothers, one of whom pees standing up) and I don’t even own a T.V.  Yes, I know I am being overly dramatic and stereotyping, but these are the things I worry about.

When M called his friend’s dad ‘Papa’, I corrected him, “You call him Will.”*  Internally, I was screaming, “ YOU DON’T HAVE A DAD!” and “I AM SORRY I CAN’T BE THAT FOR YOU!” when all M was doing was repeating what his friend had said.  The reality of life is we can never be all things to all people.  That would be exhausting.  As a parent, I need to remember that, even if I had a penis, I couldn’t be everything to my son.  He will need other people to fill special places in his heart and in his life.  He will sometimes need other people more than he needs us, but he will always need us.  We are each other’s home.  I will try to keep remembering that when he is four and makes a fort for boys only or when he wants to go camping with his friends and their dads.  Home, female parts and all.

-Betsy

*Names have been to changed to protect the innocent.