Our daughter has my thick dark hair and my need for little sleep. She has my wife’s stubbornness and independence. She loves books, like me, and appears to enjoy singing, like my wife. She is clearly the product of Fi’s and my marriage.
The only thing is that she doesn’t actually have any genes from Fi; our child has two moms, but only genes from one of us.
We could, of course, talk about nature versus nurture and how our daughter is influenced by my wife’s presence and personality. But what’s perhaps more interesting is how easily people forget that two women can’t actually make a baby. I think this bodes well for society. Let me explain.
Colleagues, friends, and relatives regularly comment on how our child must have gotten this or that trait or quirk from me or my wife. For example, a colleague saw me walking with our daughter. He mentioned how much her hair had grown since he last saw her. Then he asked if Fi had straight hair and I said no, wavy. He said it was strange how Fi has wavy hair and I have curly hair but our daughter has straight hair. I didn’t correct him by pointing out that Fi’s genes weren’t actually relevant when it comes to such traits; I just said that straight hair is easier to take care of than a tangle of curls. He nodded and said that was a good point.
We’ve had similar conversations about our daughter’s eye color and her personality, among other things. “Does she get that from you or from B.J.?” people inquire of Fi. “Does she look more like you or Fi?” I’ve been asked. “That’s so like Fi!” others have said. “I see the resemblance!”
A few times when we have pointed out that genetics don’t exactly work that way, people have looked embarrassed and giggled, saying they forgot our daughter wasn’t biologically both of ours. Sometimes I can’t help but laugh and wonder whether to remind people that no matter how much sex we might have, my wife and I simply are not going to fertilize each other’s eggs.
Initially I thought such comments were ridiculous and even ignorant; didn’t people understand how baby-making worked? Now, however, I love them. Yes, I appreciate these misunderstandings of biology.
To me, people asking whether our daughter got her smile from me or Fi shows that they see us as the parents. Sure, some of them might just be being polite, but mostly, they seem to truly view us as a trio consisting of mother, mother, and daughter.
We obviously know we are our daughter’s mothers, and we are active, involved, loving parents. But I never quite expected society to see us that way. I had assumed we’d be questioned or that we’d face more prejudice. While it’s true we might be protected by our liberal circle of friends and the many queers of our acquaintance, we have in fact received negative, homophobic comments at other times, so I’d expected we’d do so now, too.
After all, a colleague who pokes fun at gay students is likely to be someone who also criticizes the idea of two women raising a child, and who might ask nosy questions about the provenance of the sperm needed to make that child. Maybe, however, some folks love babies so much that they forget to be rude; one can only hope that’s the case.
So I’m often pleased and excited when someone asks whether our child got her dark eyes from me or Fi, or whether it was our daughter’s mother’s side of the family or her other mother’s side of the family that seems to have impacted her early acquisition of language. Apparently our daughter got biological genes from me, and non-biological genes from Fi.
Everyone knows that we’re a two-mom family. But more importantly, everyone appears to see us as just a family. That’s how it should be, and I’m grateful for it.