More Off-Limits Questions
6. Isn't your child confused about what to call you?
This is actually a good question, but there's a better way to ask it. How about, "What does he call each mom?" When our son was born, we couldn't decide what we wanted to be called. We really didn't know if it was feasible to wait until he was old enough to pick his own names for us. But one day he started calling me "Meme" and my partner "Mama." These were his names for us, and he chose them with no input (believe me, I would've picked something hipper than Meme.) He's never confused because the concept of having two moms hasn't even entered his mind yet. He sees us as two different parents: one Mama and one Meme.
7. Doesn't your child miss out on doing "dad" things, like playing ball and using tools?
We try to expose our son to as many things as we can, which includes activities that are stereotypically male, but our son sets the direction of his interests. We don't make him play with the toys we loved as kids (and I don't open the back door and tell him to "come back when the streetlights come on," like my mother did). He asks to watch construction site videos on YouTube. He loves trains, so we've all learned the names of every train on the Island of Sodor -- every single one.
The real question is, will he miss having a man in the house? Or having someone with a deep voice, someone strong and tall and masculine? I don't know. He might, but I don't think that's because we're two women. We have male friends who are so gentle, so soft-spoken, and so completely disinterested in anything stereotypically masculine, but they are no less men. There's a wide spectrum of masculinity, just as there's a wide spectrum of femininity, and the two often intersect to play ball and use tools together.
8. What did you write under "Father" on your child's birth certificate?
This could also go in the none-of-anybody's-business file, but I understand that people are curious (I would be, too, to be honest). In the state we live in, Connecticut, and in other states, both same-sex parents can be listed on the official birth certificate. Instead of "Mother" and "Father," my son's official, state-issued birth certificate says, "Parent 1" and "Parent 2." But for same-sex parents living in states that don't issue gender-neutral birth certificates, and in which only one parent can be named on the birth certificate, the answer to this question can be very complex. Birth certificates don't necessarily reflect the child's biological ties: Heterosexual adoptive parents or parents who've used a sperm or an egg donor can have both of their names on the birth certificate.
9. Where is your child from?
Well, he's from here. I find this question more amusing than anything else, but not if it is asked in front of my child. When people ask this of same-sex couples, it's because they assume the child must have been adopted.
Our son looks like my partner; she gave birth to him. He may not look like me, but he's still from "here." Even if a child is a different race or ethnicity than one (or both) of the mothers, it doesn't mean he's adopted from another country or state. And even if he's adopted from abroad, he's still part of an American family, and that makes this question irrelevant. It can't help the child's sense of belonging to be reminded by a stranger that he doesn't look like his family.
10. Are you worried your child will get teased because you're gay?
Some parents are worried and some parents aren't, depending, in part, on the communities they live in. My partner and I are no more worried that our son will be teased about us than we are about all the silly things that kids can get teased about. He is the son of two mothers, but that's just one detail about him.
Copyright © 2012 Meredith Corporation.