Posted by: mommytoo | September 22, 2009

talk about awkward.

i had quite the two-mom experience on saturday, and i just have to tell you about it.

friday night we had rosh hashanah dinner at home with friends, and it was lovely.  i got lots of praise for the meal i made, which made me happy because i worked hard on it.  we drove to nyc saturday morning, where d’s parents live, and then to a new jersey town just outside the city, for dinner with friends of her family.  we see these friends a few times a year, and always have a lovely time.

this time there were two new faces — the business partner of the dad in the family, and his wife, e, who’s maybe around 40 years old.  they got there a little while after we did, and we went down to the playground outside the building, so that nate could play.  he went down the slide, drove his stroller around, and made a couple of new friends among the other people outside.  the adults stood around and talks, with d and me taking turns chasing nate.  beautiful weather, and a pleasant enough conversation.  after maybe half an hour, we all went back upstairs, where we were soon joined by the rest of the party, including the adult daughter of the couple who lives there, and her husband and daughter.  d grew up with this family in her life, and i’ve known them lots of years now.  i have been very welcomed into the fold, and enjoy this extended family very much.

nate had had a relatively early nap in the car, and so was getting cranky by late afternoon.  d and i were passing him back and forth, and at one point i was carrying him, and d and i kind of made eye contact, decided to duck into the bedroom to nurse him (i usually keep her company during those little retreats from the rest of the crowd).  i handed him over and e grabbed my arm and said “is he yours?”  meaning  nate, of course.  i was kind of surprised, since we’d been together a couple of hours at that point.  “yes,” i said, “he’s both of ours.”  blank stare.  “he’s both of ours.”  nothing.  “our son.”  nada.  “d and i are married, and nate is our son.”  huge, saucer-sized eyes from e.  now i was the one with the blank stare, waiting for her to get it.  and what do you think she said?  e: “wow.”  me: “yes.”  e: “wow.”  me: “okay.”  e: “WOW.”  at which point, i did not roll my eyes.  instead i did an about face, and went to the bedroom with d and nate.

i was taken aback by this woman’s ignorance and lack of manners, and was not in the mood to be nice, or educational, or even really polite.  i might have recovered and gone back to being my usual pleasant self, but when i went back out into the living room, i unfortunately went right toward her (what can i say, she was next to the cheese).  now she said “amazing.”  my eyebrows shot up, and she said it again.  in my defense, she did not say “amazing” in an ally-type way.  she said it as if she has literally never enountered a lesbian before, and a two-mom family?  i swear, it was as if she had no idea such a thing existed.  d was much kinder — she sat patiently for the usual questions, and cut the woman some slack.

and for the rest of the evening, i could feel her eyes on me.  let me tell you, it was unbearable.  she kept trying to make eye contact with me, and at one point asked what nate calls us.  “well,” i said, ” right now he doesn’t call us anything; he doesn’t really talk.  he says ‘mama’ or ‘mamamama’ or ‘maymay,’ but it’s just his own words.  i refer to myself as ‘mama,’ and d is ‘mommy.’  he might change it when he is older, which would be fine with us.”  her reaction was… say it with me this time: “wow.”

i am kind of used to being the only lesbian a person knows.  there are – by all reports – no other lesbian nurses at the hospital where i work, at least not any that are out.  i’m one of those lesbians who “passes” pretty well – for better or for worse – and i think i am pretty non-threatening, possibly on purpose.  once people can tell i’m pretty open about my life (at least superficially), they have lots of questions.  about my marriage, my wedding, my son, my family of origin, my partner’s family of origin, past relationships… etc.  and i almost always answer without judging them, completely up front.  except those questions about the donor — i give general information about how the process works, but not details about the donor.  d and i try to keep that information private, believing that it isn’t even really ours to share, it is nate’s, if and when he wants to.

all this brings us to what the real issue is for me.  sometimes i get so sick of being a nice lesbian.  i’m generally not a particularly nice person — i’m friendly, and i’m kind, but i’m not the pollyanna type.  but when people start inquiring about my sexual orientation and my family, i have this need to make them comfortable.  i don’t want to be the intimidating lesbian, the angry lesbian, the impatient lesbian.  i want people to realize that i’m just like them.  my life is not scary, not that different, nothing to worry about. 

and even as i write this, i swear i am getting on my own nerves.  i feel no need to be mean or rude to people, but sometimes i want to scream “leave me a alone!”  and maybe it takes an experience i had the other day – feeling like an animal in a zoo – to bring that out in me.  but perhaps i need to access that part of myself more frequently.  this woman clearly had no interest in making me comfortable.  why would i be concerned with making her comfortable?



  1. Hi, I just found your blog the other day and this post moved me to send you a message. I too am the “other mombian”. I go by “Mami”. My kiddos (twin toddler girls) have mombians that are divorced. I sympathize with the feelings you described. I don’t have any advice to offer but you weren’t really asking. Recognition and acceptance whether it is conscious or subconscious is all I ever want. Anyway, thanks for writing/sharing.

  2. WOW, that woman sounds annoying. I agree about the ‘we’re just like everyone else instinct.’ I do that to an extent, but it does bug me when I or other lesbian couples try to seem nonthreatening by hyper-highlighting how “normal” a life I/they lead. We’re not responsible for everyone’s homophobia, but it can be hard to avoid this role. Sorry you had to have that experience!

  3. Ugh. Why is it that when people find out about our “untraditional” family it opens the door for so many inappropriate questions that they’d NEVER ask if we were straight.

    here’s a good response to the who’s the mom question that I heard: “we’re a family.” i plan on using it & hopefully it’ll work.

    We are expecting our daughters in two weeks & I’m sure that we will have many experiences like yours, unfortunately. I’m trying to steel myself.

  4. Ugh, K. That sounds miserable. Actually, *she* sounds miserable.

    I’m sorry.

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