Sunday, August 05, 2007


R's an educator. This year, she's split between two schools. One of the schools is the same where she worked last year and the other is new to her. As it turns out, her assigned "mentor/coach" at her new school is an older (meaning late 50's) lesbian who we sorta know because she's friends with all of the old-timer lesbians where we live (we like to call them the "lesbian mafia").

Anyhow, on Friday morning, this woman gave R a big speech about how she's not "out" and how she recommends that R not tell anyone she's gay, either. R was like, "Well, the fact that I'm visibly pregnant will make it a little difficult to avoid the questions about my life and my 'husband', etc." I mean, R can either look like an unwed floozy, or people can know she's gay and in a commited relationship. And even if R chose to remain in-the-closet, chances are that our kid will out her one day on their own -- ie, "I want my other mommy!", or something like that.

Well, R, after being bombarded with a million questions on Friday afternoon, finally came out. It went fairly well, no big deal. She happened to talk to her coach today and mentioned what happened and Friday and said that she'd outed herself. Surprisingly, the coach was pretty supportive. However, she did say one thing that was really sad to us.

R was explaing that our kid, at some point, would probably say something about her mommies or whatever. Her mentor said, "Well, it all depends on what you train them to say." We were horrified. I mean, why would we teach our child to be ashamed of us, or to lie about who we are?

So, this prompts the question -- how do y'all handle the two-mommy thing? What names do you use to designate who is who (both being called mommy can be confusing)? Do you encourage your child to refer to you as something else? etc, etc, etc... details, please.


e. said...

we do live out...but we are also in a very liberal area saturated with two mom families.

as for names...we are waiting to see what the kid comes up with. i think even if we're both mom, we'll be able to tell which one of us s/he is seeking. or maybe the kid will come up with something original. i think it's futile to try to force names.

so we wait and see.

sorry to hear that R. was encouraged to stay closeted...good for her for coming out - and with a baby on the way there really is no other way.

Brandy said...

My 3 year old called me Mimi for a few months after he started talking and then changed to my first name. Sometimes I wish he would call me mommy or mama but he's so independent I would never be able to get him to change until he wanted to. Training a child to lie about their parents makes me really uncomfortable.

amy said...

our daughter calls me mama and my wife mommy. and don't confuse them. she's only 20 months old but if someone tells her to get her mommy referring to me, she looks around like they're crazy if my wife isn't here. then she quickly corrects them when they poitn to me by saying mama. it's very confusing for straight people who don't know she has 2 moms but we certainly don't care. we have no interest in hiding even when it's a wee bit uncomfortable, that wouldn't be fair to our baby girl!

Robin said...

In our family we are Mommy and Baba. We like the fact that these distinctly different. Our approach to group settings such as preschools and Y programs is that we come out first thing, before our kids have even started. We gauge whether or not this seems upsetting to the authorities or teachers. In a school setting (because it doesn't really come up at swim lessons) we ask how they will deal with this. The "right" answer, of course, is that children have all kinds of parents and that is fine with us. So far (knock on wood) we have had no problems with this, even though our kids are usually the only ones with a LGBT family. Many of Pearl's friends call me Baba, if you can believe that. So do our nieces and nephews. Cute! If you're comfortable, that a great first step. You guys rock! Robin (the other mother)

Heather said...

I have a child at work who has two moms. He calls one momma and one mommy....something that he came up with on his own as he was growing up. I know another couple whose child calls one Momma J and one Momma R (I threw in ya'lls initials for the example-ha!)--he started this when he was learning his ABCs.

Melody said...

That woman's attitude is really disappointing, but the world we're living in is vastly different for 30-something lesbians than it was at our age for lesbians who are now 50-something-- particularly in the South. It's unfortunate that she still feels the need to hide but understandable. We see a lot of this among older lesbians in conservative Indianapolis, too.

Both V and I work in professional and somewhat liberalized environments, and I know we have a lot more freedom to be ourselves than do working class lesbians or the lesbians we know who work in environments where there is a lot of exposure to children, whose parents might not be as enlightened as our co-workers.

If/when we ever get pregnant, we're planning to use Mamamel and Mamaness. We already do this with the dogs, and even they can differentiate between us. We think it's cute, and it solves the problem of the generic "mama" or "mommy." To our kids we hope those words will just mean "parent."

Merr said...

Cam calls us mama and mommy. We picked who we wanted to be before he was even born and then we referred to ourselves as such since he was born. He has always known who was who and has never been confused. We obviously look like a 2 mom family when we go out in public, and so I don't care if he calls us both mom. We don't want him to be ashamed of our family. We always talk about how all families are different. We ask him how many moms he has and he says 2. We ask if he has a dad and he says no.

Amanda said...

It is definitely a hot topic, and one that T and i have discussed at length in regard to her conservative work environment (being a horse person). You should read "For Lesbian Parents"--it's a great book that talks from page one about instilling pride in your children about their family, and ultimately letting them make the decisions of what information and when to disclose it. As they say in the book, if you're having a baby with your partner, any semblance of closet-living you had before goes right out the window! Personally, i'm looking forward to it.

Holly said...

This was a big topic of conversation for us. When we got pregnant we decided that we had to be out and proud of it, not ashamed at all. It is very hard, especially in environments where you are not sure what the response is.
We are both going to be mommies to our son, whether he calls us mommy, or mama or whatever nickname, he has 2 mommies.
That's not to say that it's always going to be easy, but we don't want our son to feel that we are ashamed of the "type" of family we have.

Not The Mama said...

My partner and I don't have kids yet, and we've discussed many times (with no conclusion) the issue of what our children will call us. We have friends who do the Mommy/Mama thing and friends who do the Mommy R and Mommy J thing as well as friends who've decided to let their children come up with whatever they are comfortable with. I think, in the end, that is what happens anyway. Eventually, as kids get older and more independent, they find what works for them. The baby I nanny for has two fathers, and we just refer to each of them as "Daddy". No differentiating. I honestly have no idea how he'll differentiate when he starts talking. It will be interesting to see.

DYKE DIVA said...

I absolutely Love the Patchwork..

Just passing through from the UK and thought I would say Congratulations on R getting pregnant and that blanket is great,... I want one now :o).