The first time I had to say that out loud was beyond difficult but so full of relief at the same time. Every “coming out” story is different. However, you don’t just “come out” once. When you are gay, you just may have to do it more than once. It’s more like 1,000 times. Per year.
Pretty much with most people you meet or are in personal contact with from that moment forward. You “come out” again and again. Every time you are faced with that moment, the moment where you need to respond to the “what does your husband do?”or “are you two (pointing to Lo) sisters?” type of question, you think very quickly about:
- What is the situation I’m in at this moment?
- How much of a conversation you want to start here?
- How invested are you in this person (is it someone on line at McDonald’s that you’ll never see again?)
- Do I just lie to make it easier?
Each and every time, you still have that little pit in your stomach, at least I do (maybe I’m totally in the minority). And it’s not because I’m not totally comfortable with who I am, it’s just that you are never quite sure how the “coming out” is going to go over. I feel like I quickly put those walls up preparing for the “oh” (*quickly shuffles away*) response even though most times, in my experience, it’s been a positive “oh, that’s wonderful” type of response.
Both Lo and I were very aware of the continuous process of “coming out” when we decided to have kids. We talked it over again and again and were very clear with each other that we were not going to hesitate when someone asked us the “who is the mom?” or “are they related?” questions. For our boys, we would very plainly and calmly always explain that the boys were brothers and they had two moms. We knew that we had to be extremely comfortable so we didn’t make the boys think for a second that it wasn’t totally normal.
But I have come to the realization that I still have this teeny, tiny little fear about the constant “coming out.” Every time we need to tell a school, doctor, other parent, person at the playground, etc. that we are both the moms (especially when it’s in front of the boys), I feel the little burning of anxiety in my belly, a little holding of the breath, wondering “how is this going to go?”
In the past year, I’ve realized that it’s gone extremely well. I almost can’t believe it.
In the parent-teacher conferences, doctors’ appointments, dentist visits, when we say “we are both the moms”, the person will just say “Okay, great” and speak directly to BOTH OF US AS WE’RE BOTH MOMS.
Other parents at the boys’ schools have really not flinched.
I’ve even often been surprised when someone will say to me, “oh, I saw your wife yesterday.” Wife? Wow, we really don’t even refer to each other that way.
Both boys brought home double the crafty presents for Mothers’ Day (not a typo) . When I pointed this out to a certain superintendent I know, she said “Holly, of course the schools don’t skip a beat when it comes to gay families anymore, there’s a ton of gay families here!”
It’s been a surprising total non-issue.
I’m realizing that I’m really starting to let go of this anxiety. I’m allowing myself to stop playing defense as a lesbian mom, waiting for reactions and responses. It could be because we haven’t run into any animosity or blatant discomfort with our family and it could be related to my mindfulness journey where I’m working on not allowing myself to focus on the responses of others.
Along with letting go of my feeling of defensiveness, I’m not allowing myself to be irked by the questions that some people (who are not total strangers) ask. So, to limit the amount of questions that some readers may want to ask but don’t know how to, I’ve provided a few:
Q: “Which one of you is the real mom?” (As much as I really hate this question, I respond warmly)
A: “We are both boys’ real moms. Lo gave birth to Andrew and I gave birth to Dylan. That’s all.”
Q: “Is there a dad?”
A: It’s hard not to say “of course, there was sperm involved, don’t you know how babies are made?” Even though I find this question a little over the line (do people ask straight women this question?), I usually say, “anonymous donor” and leave it at that. If the person sincerely wants to know more, I’ll be happy to talk to them about it, but not in front of my boys.
Q: “What do they call you?”
A: This is totally a legitimate question. My response “I’m Mommy, Lo is Momma.” That’s it. It’s not rocket science.
Q: “Do they get confused between Momma and Mommy?”
A: No, that’s what they’ve known us as since birth. Sometimes, Andrew will say “Mommy, oh I meant Momma.” Honestly, it doesn’t really seem much different to me than “Mommy” and “Daddy”.
Q: “Does one (i.e. the one that you gave birth to) favor one of you over the other?”
A: I know this question is really asking if Lo and I have any favoritism towards the son that is our biological child, and vise versa, if the boys have any preference. I may deep down find this question offensive, but always take a breath to focus and allow the person asking some leeway that maybe to them it’s a totally innocent question. My answer is usually, “Nope. There’s no difference in preference than there would be with a mommy and a daddy. Some days, they seem to be more into one of us than the other, the next day, it totally changes. They want me to read them both stories at night, but they want Lo to do the tucking in.” Isn’t this just like every other family?