Blogging turned out to be a little harder than I thought. By now, WordPress has sent me four emails reminding me to “meet my weekly posting goal” because my “audience misses me.” (I hope you do!) When I started The 321 in January, I was worried no one would read it. In fact, I’ve been blown away by just how many people are interested in my family’s story and want to read more. I was NEVER worried about running out of things to say. In 17 years, I promise, I haven’t had THAT problem once.
But still, I struggled to come up with new ideas and memories to write about that didn’t somehow repeat what I’d said the week before. I saw my blog’s biggest strength becoming its biggest weakness: my family just isn’t that different. At least, not for many reasons I can directly tie to having two moms instead of one. That’s exactly why I think our story is so important, but it’s also the challenge in making us seem noteworthy. We have dinner and go to the movies. We laugh and fight and do homework – or in my moms’ case, “real work.” We don’t have gay dinner and then go to the Pride Film Festival before we lesbian laugh and smack each other with rainbow flags.
Truthfully, I spend more time talking Teagan through her five, very straight crushes on every member of One Direction than I do worrying about the discrimination my family faces because I have gay parents. Even within a conservative state, we are fortunate to live in an accepting community – and a more and more accepting world. To figure out when and why my life was different because of my parents, I had to start paying closer attention.
It’s rarely outright, blatant, meanness; it’s more that we don’t fit any of people’s boxes. At dinner last night – and every night I can remember when we’ve eaten at a restaurant – the waiter asked us, “Will this be on one check or two?” I’m pretty sure they don’t ask a man and a woman with three kids that. (Now, we almost always joke, “Yes, just one check, and the kid will be taking it.”) Typically, I think of LGBT families – and most minorities – fighting the assumptions people put on them, but in fact, my family has faced more awkwardness because people don’t know what to assume when they see five women together. What we actually are might be the last thing they’d think of. It’s easy to forget families like mine exist.
That’s why, when my parents shop for Valentine’s Day or anniversary cards, they have to scour the aisles for a single one that doesn’t say “to my wonderful husband” or “for my lovely wife.” (The wife cards would work if we could just legalize marriage everywhere!) Unless of course, they’d still end with “I’m one lucky man,” as many of them do. A probably well-intentioned man once reminded my frustrated mom, “This is the section for women’s cards.” “Yes, I know,” she answered, as he shrunk back, embarrassed as he realized he’d put her in a box where she didn’t belong.
At least he quickly figured out his mistake – some people just REALLY don’t get it. We often have to choose between being totally honest and avoiding painfully awkward confusion. When we took a cab in New York City, the driver – not totally fluent in English – tried fruitlessly to understand our situation as he talked to my mom Audrey. “You are sisters?” “No, partners, these are our kids.” “Ohhh, your husbands at home?” “No, we don’t have husbands, we’re partners.” “In business?” And so on. And from the back seat as a ten-year-old, what felt like on and on and on and on. Despite mom’s valiant and prolonged effort, I think the taxi driver still left us thinking my parents were on a girls’ weekend and failed to find a babysitter. (Or MAYBE, that they were outlaws on the run who stole their husbands’ money and then got the hell out of dodge! Who knows?)
Wait staff of the world, I’m excited for the day when we no longer confuse you. Until then, please try and remember to assume we only want one bill. If we’d like two so we can use two Groupons – or I want to pretend to be an adult and pay for my own meal – we’ll let you know.
P.S. That last possibility is about as likely as my parents becoming husband-robbing-fugitives.