there’s no escaping it – being a same-sex parent invites curiosity and interest.
most of the time, i’m ok with this. i’m a big believer that dialogue opens minds, so i am usually pretty happy to have conversations about how happy, ordinary, messy, and delicious our family life is.
this is one of the reasons i blog so candidly about it.
it’s one of the reasons that several nosy people in cafes have had a kind answer, and not a facefull of coffee when they’ve asked questions that crossed lines they wouldn’t have dreamed of crossing with a straight family.
but by the same token, there’s nothing more personal than making a baby, and nothing closer to home than family, so a bit of sensitivity goes a long way.
showing a general interest is one thing, but some questions come along with a load of subtext that i’m really not happy with.
to me, these two are the worst:
whose sperm did you use?
(subtext: “who’s the real dad?”)
it’s often followed by questions like “do his parents know they have a grandchild?” “how involved is he?” “what will the baby call him?”
for us, it devalues the structure of our family, and makes it seem like you’re trying to interpret it in terms of a heterosexual nuclear family framework. which doesn’t work. because that’s not who we are.
our family has two mums in it. two loving, present, involved parents. we conceived our son using donor sperm. while he’s a vital factor in the whole family-making process, being a donor is a world away from being a parent.
who gave birth to him?
(subtext: “who’s the real mum?”)
it’s amazing how quickly people start deferring to me over sara-jane when they know that i am arty’s birth mother. i don’t think it’s ever a particularly conscious thing for people, but it happens with astounding reliability. questions about his growth and development are directed at me instead of her. people seek permission from me rather than her before giving him food, or playing a game with him.
which, frankly, is bullshit. because we’re both his parents. we both change his nappies, bathe him, feed him, cuddle him when he cries, sing his favourite songs to him. we daily earn the title of “mother”, it is not simply bestowed by virtue of genetics.
i’m not saying that it’s wrong to be curious. in fact, i think being interested in how different families work is completely natural, and actually really important. i’m just saying, before you ask a lesbian parent about their family, have a quick think about what you’re asking, and why you really want to know the answer.