I rarely get asked about E’s dad but I did get asked last week by an IT guy I’ve known for many years – he was sitting at my desk working on my computer while I stood next to him. He said something like, “I see pictures of the baby but none of the dad!” Gesturing around smiling, implying that the dad was sorely underrepresented. The right answer was something like, “Oh, that guy? Yeah, it’s all about the baby now.” But instead what came out of my mouth was, “Oh, that’s because he doesn’t have a dad.” Which is what I think we all agreed is NOT what I was intending to say- I wanted to say, “Our family doesn’t have a dad” but I did go on to explain that I chose to have a baby on my own. Maybe the answer was, “That’s because I had him on my own.” He said that was brave, and then he got quiet. I felt like the whole office was listening. Live and learn.
It doesn’t have to be awkward, but I suppose it is because people innocently stumble into a very personal conversation. One thing I’ll never do is pretend he has a dad for the sake of making people more comfortable. With the exception of someone passing by in the airport who asks his age and then says, “His dad must be tall!” No point chasing them down to set them straight.
E himself is starting to try to make sense of who has a daddy and a papa. We had a conversation in the car yesterday that went well. He was saying Papa and I said who do we know who has a Papa? He listed some friends. Our family doesn’t have a Papa. Who do we have? He said Mommy. And I added Mimi, Chacha, his aunts, his uncles (S and J!), and his cousins. He repeated all these back with a smile. He’s totally satisfied with that. I know that, for a while yet, the awkward one in that conversation is me.
We have a book called Love is a Family which I super loved until I realized it doesn’t include gay families! I only realized it after I recommended it to a two mom family. Ugh! The point is that there are single moms and dads, step parents, adopted kids. But no two dads or two moms… Disappointing. I’ll search for more truly inclusive books.
Still, the message is good: love is a family. Love is all you need.
This is an excerpt of a longer post by ktkeaveney: thesolomamaproject.wordpress.com
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