The Road to Hell

Once again, I’ve let not only time but CONTENT lapse here and am faced with a lot of stuff I want to write. I’ve decided to put the more fluffy stuff (ie: our recent Disney vacation) in a separate post because it’s a clear demarcation and also so many pictures.

The vacation has been bookended with harder stuff, which means it was both much needed and, as is often the case, so dearly fleeting.

The week before we left on vaca, L was in Denver for a professional conference and I was on my own parenting. It was both difficult and shockingly not so hard. Which is to say, nothing really happened that made it all that hard (we were both healthy, Ansel was on average toddler mode, not nuclear toddler mode; I was able to take some time off work) AND I do not want to do it again soon. I know that there is a certain amount of difficulty in this situation because it’s not my norm but I really don’t know how single parents keep their heads above water. It’s so exhausting. And not even just tired-exhausting, but emotionally and socially and all other kinds of ways.

I did get to see a friend from PDX who was up with her kiddo for the weekend, and we went to the free open toddler gym at the local rec center (OMG the BEST!), and we went to the children’s museum and did other things that usually a work-away-from-home parent doesn’t get to do, and the worst ‘thing’ that happened was when Ansel pooped in the bathtub and I missed it for a few minutes because of the huge amount of bubbles in the tub (thanks, Mr. Bubble) although Ansel did tell me about the poop so that’s a good thing, right?

But after a trimester of feeling the burn, it was a LOT to also solo parent for 7 days and 6 nights. I was definitely at the end of my metaphorical rope when L got home, and very much looking forward to vacation.

Vacation came and went and, because it was to Disneyworld and because it was with a toddler it was not relaxing (fun, rejuvenating, exciting, joy-filled. NOT RELAXING.) That plus cross-country air travel (sure, we’ll fly from one corner of the contiguous United States to another, no big!) landed me with a chest cold that has basically knocked me on my ass for three days. In between vacation and illness, I did facilitate a giant training – and well – so, that’s something.

The thing I really want to talk about though, are the casual, well meaning micro aggressions of homophobia that I am feeling right now. Pronounced, undoubtedly, by my newfound role as non gestational parent.


  • Before we abdicated to the Disney owned hotel, we had two lovely nights in a less expensive and very lovely two room suite at the Florid.ays hotel (don’t want ads, do want to talk up this awesome resort) We arrived around 5pm on Thursday night, after L’s mom had already arrived and checked in earlier in the day. The suite had two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining area and lounge area, and two bedrooms – one with two double beds, the other with a king size bed. L’s mom (who, BTW is awesome and I love and adore her deeply) had put her stuff in the king size bedroom and given us the 2 double bed room. When we chuckled a little, she said “well, this way we can each have our own bed!” We mentioned that, you know, we usually sleep in the same bed and she mumbled something about moving if we wanted her too. Ultimately, it wasn’t that big a deal and I didn’t feel like it was my role to make that decision. And, you know, it ISN’T a big deal. But . . .would she have made the same assumption/choice for her son and his wife? I’m guessing not. She is a lovely, thoughtful, kind woman who absolutely treats me wonderfully and sees Ansel entirely as her grandson. But, I do think there is a level of disconnect where our relationship is not seen in the same way. A tiny bit awkward, a tiny bit hurtful.
  • At the training last week, I disclosed to a teacher I work with (who was attending the training) that L was pregnant. I did this mostly because the teacher is pregnant (she told me last time I guest taught in her class in January) and I inquired about how she was feeling. And then I did that thing to try and relate and told her L was pregnant and struggling with first tri nausea. This, unfortunately, opened the door to all kinds of comments and questions. The first was to ask if we were able to use the same donor (I lied and said we did because that whole process is still tender and so long and I don’t want to get into it) because, of course, that’s the number one thing people care about off the bat. Then she joined me at lunch (side note: when I spend all day training, I long for my ½ hour lunch to get some tiny introvert time so I actually don’t want to talk to anyone) and we ended up in this incredibly awkward conversation where she kept insisting that I will “probably not bond the same way” with this baby because it didn’t “grow inside of me” like Ansel did. And I kept trying to steer her towards more neutral and less offensive territory by saying things like, “I am also interested to see how the experiences will differ and be the same.” But she just.kept.going.there. It was exhausting. I have to maintain a relationship with her, so I couldn’t just say, “Um, you’re being really fucking offensive and insinuating that biology or gestation is the only way to have a real, legitimate relationship with a child which is offensive on so, so many levels (like, adoption and step children and on and on) so can you please STFU?” without running the risk of it impacting my job. But also, I was trapped there, eating my damn sandwich, trying to wedge my way out so I could pee and prep the next part of the training. And she TOTALLY meant well. She totally though it was ‘neat’ that I gave birth to Ansel and L is giving birth to Tiny, but she absolutely was reinforcing all these fucked ideas about what parenting is.
  • Today as I sat at my desk, sick and light headed and exhausted, a lady who I’d gone through new employee orientation with (who I really like, very bubbly and effusive and fun) stopped by and saw my pictures, which include the photo of the three of us from our baby announcement. “Big brother!” she exclaimed and gave me a look. “Yeah, my partner is pregnant!” She was very nice and congratulatory, but it quickly devolved into another weird conversation about how maybe she should have had a wife because the “baby maker” at her house was nothing but trouble and she really just needed a clone of herself. I didn’t bring up the fact that L is not my ‘sister wife’ she is, you know MY ACTUAL WIFE and we are married because we are in love, not to improve our household economy. And then she said the thing about how now we’d both be moms, how exciting! And I gritted my teeth and smiled. Then she congratulated me again and walked away.

It’s weird, because there are moments in all of these experiences of kindness, of being seen. These are not instances where someone is being shitty. And maybe it’s a language issue, or people just not being thoughtful and careful. I’m ultimately glad that I have to deal with this kind of homophobia/heterosexism and not the kind that is abject hatred and total invisibility. But, it’s exhausting, y’all. This is the kind of stuff that really wears people down. I know that people are curious and excited and just don’t know how to express it well. So, that’s why we need a lot of straight folks out there talking to their friends about how to be good, curious, supportive people with queer families so that those of us who are living it don’t have to use our damn lunch breaks feeling exhausted trying to defend our lives, politely.


13 thoughts on “The Road to Hell

  1. So much ugh with those comments. A mom in my mom group recently said that of course the new baby will have blue eyes because my spouse and I both have blue eyes. I thought this was somewhat odd so I clarified and said “well the donor has blue eyes too.” She legitimately thought we somehow spliced our eggs together to make a baby and sperm was also somehow an ingredient. Well meaning, but also the weirdest thing I’ve gotten so far. Insinuating that gestation or genetics makes someone more of a “parent” is beyond offensive and wrong on so many levels. As more people get to know queer families hopefully their horizons will be expanded and we’ll get fewer of these types of comments in the future. Also, I’m totally impressed you managed Disney with a toddler. It was a marathon when it was just the two of us on our honeymoon 5 years ago.

  2. I accidentally jumped the button but realized “This.” actually encompassed everything I probably would say. The amount of times I have explained my family in a grocery store setting is sort of astonishing. And although I am thankful we don’t catch any outwardly aggressive, directly homophobic situations, it’s just as exhausting to deal with those well meaning people who…just cannot get out of their own way. Like, at all.


  3. Totally. Poor S had a horrible boss at her last job who called her a Daddy To Be. She lost her shit with him (he honestly didn’t think he said anything wrong!)and thankfully has a much more progressive work environment now. Hopeful that people will gradually change as they’re exposed to various forms of family. But so frustrating in the meantime.

  4. I’m so exhausted by these type of comments and conversations that I’ve started to avoid them. I HATE avoiding a situation to teach someone how not to be ignorant or rude, but it’s just so annoying that sometimes I can’t anymore.

  5. Gah. My heart is heavy and exhausted just reading that; I’m sorry you’ve been wrestling that especially with illness and the affront to you time. I vow to open dialogues to increase sensitivity and mindfulness about language, assumptions, respect. Wow.

  6. I never realized how driven people are to make asses of themselves until our foster boy arrived. Pretty regularly people will ask if Michele is more of the “dad” because they read her as more masculine. Some days I let it roll off me and other days the nasty comes out. Good on you for keeping it together. 🙂

  7. Hi. This sounds really hard, especially with everything else going on. Very frustrating. Good intentions only take you so far.

    I’ve been in your shoes (well, L’s) as you know and I’m happy to report that a lot of it does dissipate once there is an actual out-of-the uterus child. We still get hints of these prejudices, but people are a lot more diplomatic, and seem more focused on basing their comments on our actual interactions with our children. The one new thing we do get, though, is commentary about whether or not our kids are “real” siblings. I am particularly grateful when our straight friends call people out on this.

    I’m amused that you flew to DWorld rather than DLand. We did the opposite, with Clementine a while back, from the other northern corner of the country to the other southern one. Gluttons for punishment, the lot of us!

  8. Friend, I hear all of this so hard. Having been the NGP the first time around was so different than carrying the second time around. When they would ask us about the pregnancy when Callie carried, it wasn’t as irritating to answer the questions. I guess we kinda got caught up in the excitement of the pregnancy, and also having the opportunity to “educate” people (you know, two moms, foster child, twins, donor, etc.), but I wasn’t carrying, and Callie loves that stuff. But when I carried, it felt super intrusive, and also me being an AG (aggressive, stud, butch) I wasn’t entirely comfortable in my clothes and therefore in general, and it all just felt a bit much. Also, invalidating me as having been a mom before having carried was the single most irritating thing I heard my entire pregnancy! I’ll agree with Lemon Drop here and say that it all sort of goes away (the questions, not the feelings) once the baby arrives, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating while it’s happening. All of that to say, I’m with ya on this. Sending love to you 4…

  9. I can relate so much already, and my first child isn’t even here yet! I feel like so many people have asked me about the hows / the donor / “will the next one be your wife’s?” even before they’ve bothered to say congrats. The full spectrum of people from super well-meaning family members (who I know are happy for us and excited, just don’t stop to think about how their questions could be interpreted I guess?) to random people at work (one guy just asked, “So how did that happen then?” when I told him my wife and I were having a baby. It’s tiring, and frustrating, and you’re right, it wears you down. I always feel torn between trying to educate them to be better and trying to just be polite so it stops sooner and like you say, so I don’t risk my work relationships! I hope it eases, I think like one of the other commenters said, hopefully it will when the baby is here but that doesn’t make it ok!

  10. I feel like there were so many problematic statements flung our way when Debra was pregnant with RR. I think that, for the most part, the bridge to well-meaning was easier to cross than these remarks. But no matter how minor, the need for casual integration of knowledge surrounding pregnancy for all kinds of people is glaringly apparent. On one thing I’m certain though – I don’t think you ever question ability to bond with a soon to be mother.

  11. Legit had a man I knew a total of 3 days in a training class offer his sperm to me. Like in a medical setting – legit offer. This man was also 350+ lbs and randomly burped like it was no big deal while people were talking.

    People have no filter when it comes to this shit. Their curiosity gets the best of them in the moment and they can’t help it! I can’t wait for the day this stuff is just known in this country and it truly is the norm.

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