Mama, MamaRae, and MamaLee

One of the things about being in a family where both parents are not genetically related to our kids is the fascinating way people struggle, or don’t, to identify us as mamas. It has become more pronounced since Linnea was born, where there have been comments about Leah being ‘a mom now’, or Linnea ‘looking like her mama!’ As opposed to looking like her MamaLee. 

Some of this may be just that I notice it now more as the non-gestational parent. Some may be borne of the fact that, at least for now, the maternal genes run strongly in each of our daughters. I’m sure there’s a factor of carelessness – the assumption that either a) we would know that people ‘didn’t mean’ that one of us was less of a parent to either of our kids, or b) it never crossed their mind that calling a gestational parent ‘mama’ would be an exclusionary act. Whatever the root, however, these off hand or pointed comments all leave me feeling somewhat bemused by the clues as to how others actually see our family, and sad that anything about our daughter’s parentage is a question mark. 

So far I have mostly made gentle prods. When someone says ‘she looks like her mama!’ I respond with ‘which one?’ I am not looking to start a Thing. But especially as our children become old enough to hear these questions I feel like I need to have clear and calm corrections to provide, if not for the benefit of the recipients, then for my daughters. 

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7 thoughts on “Mama, MamaRae, and MamaLee

  1. One of my biggest fears of taking turns as gestational parents was that Julia would look more like me than Clementine does like Lime and it would be immediately obvious to complete strangers who had gestated whom and they would automatically map us as one or the other child’s “real” mom. We are lucky that our friends, families, and acquaintances “get it” that we are equal parents but I still notice subtle things in people’s comments that I can’t quite pinpoint. The older the kids get, though, the less relevant it seems to become. And we have SO many friends who have our back on these issues. One friend’s mother, upon finding out our kids were conceived with sperm from the same donor, exclaimed “oh, so they’re real sisters after all!” My friend shut that down real fast.

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  2. AndiePants says:

    Uuuuggghh. I hate this shit so much. Good for you for nipping it in the bud. It doesn’t matter what people intend, it hurts.

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  3. Ugh, I am so prone to making these types of comments so innocently to all of our various family constellations we are lucky to have as our friends, which is especially awkward because as prospective parents who will be making a family in at least one of several “atypical” ways you’d think I’d be better about it!

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  4. This happens ALL THE TIME. I hear, “When is (wife) going to have her baby?” Umm…this is her baby, and #2 will also be my baby. Or, people say to our baby, “There’s your mom!” or “Can you hear mom?” and only refer to me…I’m sure it has to sting for my wife.

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  5. I have a hard time with this because I’m the type of person that always says “but they didn’t mean it like that!” And Callie always reminds me that whether they meant it that way or not, our kids are watching. Where I would normally take the stance of an “educator” on all things Gay Family to anyone that asks, I’ve resorted to listening more and asking questions to clarify things. Sometimes, they just really don’t even know how to respond to things, which really shouldn’t even exist, but it does!

    Another interesting thing is how everyone who knows I carried Austin automatically says he looks like me, which is GREAT, but most people don’t know I have no genetic link to him either! Callie’s egg! Go figure!

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