two women holding hands


My Daughter Loves Her Two Moms So Much She Keeps Outing Me at the Park

Feb 18, 2020

Coming out can be like having a baby: it rarely goes according to plan.

Just as a drug-free labour at a birthing centre can quickly turn into an emergency C-section, even carefully rehearsed coming-out conversations go sideways. Although my own experience wasn’t disastrous, I still heard some real zingers — like “I guess I’m not getting grandkids then” and “Are you sure?”

But labour has an inevitable conclusion, while coming out can go on and on ad nauseam.

There are so many types of families. Read about what happened when this parent's partner and child came out trans — here

That’s because coming out is much more than simply announcing that you’re queer to those you’ve hidden it from. That’s just the first round. Coming out for me is also deciding whether to correct a pronoun or mention my same-sex partner in conversation. It’s the exhaustion of explaining to clueless receptionists or doctors that the woman with me is neither my sister nor my mother. There are many, many smaller rounds of coming out — often with folks I am just getting to know or complete strangers, which is stressful.

It’s been 15 years since Canada legalized same-sex marriage, but homophobia remains.

For years, I didn’t always bother correcting people. I’d let the plumber assume I had a husband and the duct cleaner mistake my spouse for a friend. But now that I’m a parent, coming out is no longer optional — not if I want my daughter to grow up proud of her moms and not if I want the world to become a more inclusive place for all of our kids.

But for the love of Queer Jesus, it feels like I’m coming out all of the damn time now.

Coming out pregnant

Hours after making out double bars on the pee stick, I emailed our local birthing centre to try to get a midwife (they were in high demand). “My partner and I are six weeks pregnant,” I wrote. “She and I are interested in midwifery care.” Whew.

It was harder IRL. In a maternity clothing store, a saleswoman cooed: “How sweet of your mom to take you shopping!” While trying mattresses at a furniture store, someone thought we were sisters. In both situations, I sucked the air out of the room when I remarked cooly: “She’s my wife.”

I was in my third trimester and big as a house when my elderly neighbour stopped me on the street to ask if I was knocked up. I nodded and he gasped, “But…how?”

There are many obstacles to having children. Read about a gay man who wants to have a child but can't — here.

Outings with baby

Bringing home a newborn in January meant very little going out, let alone coming out, which granted me a reprieve.

But when we re-entered society, there were vaccination clinics and errands to stores to grab diapers and nipple shields. Months later, there were playground chats with other moms who had questions about my husband. Eventually, there were applications to daycares. So I came out and came out and came out again.

Outings by baby

Things took a turn when the kid began to speak. At two, she began screaming things like, “No, Mommy! I want Mama!” in public spaces.

As a preschooler, she began drawing sweet pictures of her two-mom family and proudly telling nearly everyone she met at daycare that she had two moms. I made myself smile and make eye contact with awkward parents at pick-ups and drop-offs. Four-year-olds would tug on my sleeve and ask, “Are you her other mom?” 

We had lovely daycare teachers who often told kiddo how lucky she was to have two moms — sometimes loudly and within hearing distance of everyone else. It was equal parts heartwarming and othering.

School Outings

Kindergarten changed everything again. Coming out to the teacher was pretty easy, but as a classroom volunteer, I found myself coming out to other parents frequently. And when birthday parties or playdates came up, I’d also come out as divorced when I’d answer: “I’ll have to see whose weekend that is.”

Now that my daughter is in Grade 1, the rumour mill helps a bit — but I’m still coming out often. Most parents or caregivers don’t seem to care, but a sizable contingent seems to avoid me. And when my daughter tells other kids about her two-mom family, the response is not always a shrug: older kids have questions. I worry that coming out may start to weigh on her, too.

Last summer, I bought her and my step-daughter — who has similar family origins — T-shirts that say, “My moms rock!” in big, rainbow letters. Kiddo has worn hers to school a few times, which hopefully helps spread the word a wee bit further.

I’ve also pinned a rainbow button to my purse in an effort to further minimize the coming-out convos at school. But the truth is, I’ll never stop coming out and that’s OK. My daughter needs to know her family is valid and she deserves to live authentically — as we all do.

Article Author Caitlin Crawshaw
Caitlin Crawshaw

Read more from Caitlin here.

Since snagging her first byline in 2004, Caitlin has written for dozens of publications across North America, including Today’s Parent, Maclean’s, and the Globe and Mail. But by writing for CBC, she follows in the steps of her late maternal grandmother — who sold a story or two to CBC Radio back in the day — and fulfills a dream of her late paternal grandfather, whose radio plays were ever-so-politely rejected by CBC in the 1950s. Caitlin holds an MFA in creative writing from UBC and lives in Edmonton with her family.

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