I’ve been asked this question a handful of times in a handful of settings. One time, my daughter was three. For weeks, I had dropped her off and picked her up from preschool, and once – just once – my partner had come to pick her up. The next morning, I dropped her off again and one of her girlfriends, probably five years old, ran to meet us at the door. Eagerly, she helped my daughter squeeze her lunch bag onto the shelf, and then looked at me as if for the first time. “Are you her babysitter?” she asked. I said, “No. I’m her mom.”
She stroked my daughter’s silky jet-black hair and looked at me strangely, impressed yet unconvinced. When my daughter crinkled her eyebrows and pulled her head away, her friend stopped petting her. “But you don’t look alike,” she said to me, looking from one of us to the other and back again. My hair is strawberry blonde, long, less silky than my daughter’s. My skin is pale and freckled. My daughter’s whole body is bronze.
“We have lots of colors in our family, don’t we?” I asked my daughter. She was now sitting quietly on a small chair next to us, gazing at me evenly. All morning, she’d been distracted and slow, not eager to leave the house. She hadn’t said a word since we arrived and was clearly content to let me handle this conversation on my own. I realized she had never yet held this conversation, herself, but she would many times. What I said next mattered.
“Why do you always drop her off?” her other friend, Ana, chimed in, bouncing lightly on her feet as she spoke. My little girl looked at her.
“Because I love her, and I want to see where she spends her day.”
“No,” Ana explained. “Why doesn’t her dad come?”
“Ohhh.” I understood. “She doesn’t have a dad. She has two moms,” I told them, with excited emphasis on the two moms.
“Hey – that’s like Nicholas,” the first girl told Ana.
I smiled. “Cool,” I said to the girls, as I unfolded myself from the crouched position I’d been holding just inside the classroom door. “I gotta go, love.” I gave my daughter a kiss on the top of her head. She stood, but lingered at the door a moment. Quickly, her new friends pulled her inside, she smiled just a bit, and they disappeared together into the classroom.
And I understood what I’d heard so many times from political activists and moms, alike: THIS is why we share about our family. So a five year-old can say simply, “That’s like Nicholas!” when I explain the two-mom thing, and affirm the multiracial make-up of our family. And our children can go about the business of stringing beads and squashing clay with their friends.
* * * * *
I started this blog to share little bits of life which draw attention to the unique, or perhaps not-so-unique, fabric of my family — not just the queer bits, but the step-bits, the introverted bits, the writer bits, the scientist bits, the I-bought-a-new-red-mini-cooper-because-I’m-having-a-midlife-crisis bits — because I know some of you can relate. And when you do, I hope you’ll drop me a line about your own life. Or about mine. Let’s share the adventure, just for a minute, before we continue on with the business of our everyday.