I’ve done a lot of explaining my whole life. My family and the way we looked never quite made immediate sense to people. Our mere presence in a room had to be explained because we were confusing to the world. It’s not like there was Modern Family or Glee on TV in 1993. Every time we met people an explanation was involved. This is my Dad and this is my Daddy.
“And where is your Mommy?”
“I don’t have a Mom I have two Dads.”
“But you have to have a Mom.”
“Well, I don’t.”
Sometimes people wouldn’t believe me. As if they knew better about my family than I did. One girl even took it upon herself to tell me, “well, you either have a mom or she’s dead!” That was one of the more shocking responses, but even then I walked up to my angel of a babysitter (she is so much more than that title really allows), Amparo, shrugged my shoulders and said, “she just doesn’t get it.”
Usually, kids would just stare at me quizzically not really sure what to make of me. I had to explain to teachers that I didn’t have a mom. I was constantly crossing out the word “Mother” on forms and writing “Father” a second time. I didn’t get to just walk around without questions being asked because I was confusing. I don’t think any little kid has been around so many people asking questions about eggs and sperm as I have. It was just basic conversation when I met someone. Still is.
“So, wait, how did your parents have you if you’re not adopted?” I secretly get excited every time I tell people because I love my story even though on the outside I sometimes roll my eyes. “Well, they took my Dad’s sperm, my Daddy’s sister’s egg and my cousin carried me.” (Please take your time to figure this one out. You are not the first and will certainly not be the last person who has to draw themselves a diagram to understand.) Typically, the response was to tilt their head slightly, smile and nod mechanically as they tried to work it out in their heads where exactly I’d come from and didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable in the process. I really should have had tiny business cards with me as a kid that explained it so that I didn’t have to.
I was and still am so proud of where I came from, so proud of my two dads. I was kind of the OG girl with gay dads and I loved it. However, sometimes the explaining got exhausting because it’s the only story people wanted to hear about me. Other things about me didn’t interest them as much as my parentage and stories about test tubes and artificial insemination. I appreciated that people were always so curious about how I came to be, but it was always the first question people asked me. Not who are you and what are your likes and dislikes, but how did this happen? How were you made? My sheer existence was a question for people to ponder over and debate. Should it be legal? Should it be okay? Was what I am okay? (As far as I was concerned I was just like any other kid…although my parents were much cooler and more liked by my peers than the typical adult.)
Usually the answer regarding whether my being was a good thing or not was, yes, I am okay to be around. No one took their kids away or ran when I asked for a playdate, but people often had to step back and figure me out and then jump in. Before there was friendship-there were questions. People just didn’t get it. I didn’t let it bother me. It was just the way things were, my parents were my parents and some people didn’t understand that and that’s okay. I was always happy to clarify for them. I would draw it out if I had to. I came with a story and a nametag “The Girl with Two Gay Dads.”
As I’ve gotten older I’ve found these questions more and more odd. Not many people end up talking about how they were conceived in a petri dish at the conference room table, yet somehow I find this a regular occurrence. It’s what makes me memorable. It’s what sticks with people, “oh yeah, the girl with two dads. I know her.”
The only thing that’s really scary is that as an adult I started thinking it was the only interesting thing about me. There is no “me” without a discussion about my parents, which is weird because I am a separate human being with a fascinating life that is more than just where I came from. I forget that a lot. I also realized that I am not the only one that is categorized by where they came from. We do this to everyone we meet. We want to know their story, check them out, make sure they fit our idea of what is popular, pretty, or perfect. This is a societal thing. We all do it. I’m not the only one that gets asked questions even though maybe I thought I was. We all try to put ourselves in boxes, to make ourselves fit even maybe where we don’t. I eventually came to the conclusion that my box has wavy lines and fuzzy edges and I started thinking that everyone else’s does too, even the seemingly perfect people. We are all a little blurry. We are all a constellation of our experiences and we deserve to share every facet of our being that we choose to with the world to help us find our people. The ones whose constellations bring us joy, beauty, and light. We are more than where we came from, although, where we come from has shaped much of who we are and that’s an incredible thing.