Laugh It Off
by Judy Gold
February 27, 2001
Being a parent, in and of itself, is quite a challenge. But being a gay parent can be even more challenging. Yes, we go through the same things with our kids that everyone else goes through: the teething, the potty training, the boo-boos, the whining, the kissing and hugging and the unconditional love. But the questions and comments we get are another story. How many of you have heard this one:
“So, how’d you manage to get pregnant?”
Proper response: “Not the old fashioned way!”
“Who’s Sarah’s biological father?”
Proper response: “I’ll send you that information with my tax returns. And would you like my medical records and a list of all the medications I’m taking?”
“Who’s the real mother?”
Proper response: “This week? I am. You see, the fake mother has been really busy at work, so I’m doing a lot of the day-to-day stuff. But I’m going to be busy next week, so she’s going to be the real mother then. We can send you our schedules if you want to keep up.”
My favorite question
My close friend, Mary, and her partner have a 4-year-old daughter, Emily, who was having a play date with almost 5-year-old Michael. Now, Michael’s mom is known around day care as the one to say the most inappropriate things to people. (Oh, did I mention that Michael is brilliant and perfect in every way?) OK, so Emily and Michael are playing nicely, and Mary and Inappropriate are sitting together talking in the other room. (You see, that can be the most painful thing about play dates: having to make conversation with parents that you have absolutely nothing in common with.) So, they’re chit-chatting along, no doubt talking about how bright and special Michael is, when Inappropriate comes out with my favorite question:
“So Mary, are you going to raise Emily as a lesbian?”
WHAT??! Are you mental? Are you going to raise Michael to be as obnoxious as you are? Are you going to raise Michael as an alcoholic like your annoying husband? Are you going to raise Michael to wear stirrup pants after they’ve gone way out of style?
Mary is from a proper WASP-y family, so she just laughed and blew it off. I, of course, yelled at her and said that she can never have a play date with them again. Inappropriate does serve a purpose. She makes us laugh, and we love to egg her on so she’ll say more stupid things that we can talk about behind her back. You’ve just got to laugh it off. It’s when the other kids do it that can make it painful.
The best comeback
My son, Henry, was sitting at morning meeting at his day care, one of the cutest things you’ve ever seen, with his schoolmates when one of the kids says, “Henry’s daddy died.”
Henry says, “No he didn’t. I don’t have a daddy. I have two moms.”
Henry knows exactly who he is, and he’s a happy kid. He was frank and to the point. Of course, I want to go over the other boy’s house and rip his parents to shred. But on the other hand, I’m so proud that Henry is comfortable with his identity.
I guess stupidity starts at a young age, and we just have to teach our kids that people say the most ridiculous things no matter how old they are. The best comeback is a good one-liner that puts them in their place. Look, if we’re going to have to endure bigotry, we might as well enjoy it.
Gay parenting can also cause rifts between partners. I remember a couple of days before Henry’s bris, my partner and I walked over to the Judaica store to pick up some yarmulkes for the event. It was the first time they were outside since coming home from the hospital. Henry was six days old, and Sharon was exhausted recovering from a Caesarian section. I had Henry in the Baby Bjorn, that little pouch you wrap around you so the baby is sort of lying on your chest and belly. We walk in the store, we pick out some yarmulkes, and I stand in line to pay while Sharon looks around. After I’m finished paying, we start walking out when this little old lady and her friend look at Henry.
“Oh, my goodness,” she says, “he’s sooooo cute and tiny.”
“He’s just adorable. Look at his hands! How old is he?”
“And he’s outside already?” (Did I mention it was a Judaica store? Guilt everywhere.)
“Oh, he’s so precious! And you, YOU LOOK FABULOUS!!!”
What was I supposed to say? See that woman over there? Yes, the one who looks like she’s about to drop dead? She’s my partner. She actually gave birth. I’m Henry’s other mom. I’m adopting him in a few months. We’ve been together 12 years — longer than most marriages last — but we can’t file joint tax returns, only one of us can take him as a deduction and I have to bring his birth certificate with me whenever we travel anywhere together.
No, that’s not what I said. I said, “Thanks!!!”
We walked outside, and Sharon said in a very loud voice, “YOU (@*&#&^$*@#&$^ @*#$&#^*#!!!!”
Then we just started to laugh and walked home.
Originally published on the HRC FamilyNet Web site.
Reprint by permission of Judy Gold.
Ms Gold, writer and comic, may be reached through Rebar Management; 323-461-3200.