Sometimes Daddies Do Get Pregnant (How I Do Queer Parenting) by Lucy Silva Marrero

Someday I'll have to have the "where do babies come from" talk with my children. My oldest is five years old, and I try to work in basic plumbing information about uteruses, penises, eggs, and sperm. I've given him the basics about his parentage, which is a bit complicated. His biological father is not involved, nor is he interested in being. I am divorced from the Daddy he's known since he was born, and he lives with me and my partner, who functions as a step-parent to him.
 
Compared to what I will tell my future children, however, it seems quite boring. I can't wait for the day I sit my children down and say, "Now I will tell you the story of how Mommy knocked up Daddy."
 
My partner and I are queer, and we, like most queer couples, have to do an elaborate dance to get one of us knocked up. It almost makes me long for the days of, "Oops! The condom broke!" (...I said almost!)
 
We are both female, and therefore both capable of cooking babies and since the elaborate dance would be stretched out into three long acts if I were to cook them, he is the only logical choice. Unless we end up with an extra $20K or so to reattach my fallopian tubes and suck out some eggs with a needle, that is. My partner, however, has attached fallopian tubes and a working uterus. He might say that is an unfortunate misjudgment on Mother Nature's part, but he's doing his best to make do with it for now. And since his plumbing is up and running and mine is not, the only practical choice for birthing children of our own is for me to take a turkey baster and a Ziplock full of spermies and knock him up.
 
Being the sucker for a good story that I am, I'm quite thrilled about it. Oh, the opportunities to watch people's minds explode! "My partner is 4 months along! Yes, he's thrilled and so am I!" and "Oh, he'll be such a good Daddy. He's even thinking about breastfeeding!" I look forward to relating these stories to our horrified children.
 
Of course, in the interest of comedy, I've reduced a very serious and thoughtful decision into something simple and comedic. The reality is that my female-bodied butch partner who goes by male pronouns will face the constant invalidation of his gender even more so than he does now.
 
As a queer couple, we are often read as two women. Yet we aren't. We have the same basic plumbing, but beyond that, we're nothing alike. He is a boy and I am a girl. Well, it's not quite that simple because the boy/girl model only allows for two options, ignoring the host of difference between what most would define as a "girl" and what most would define as a "boy." And it's this binary gender system that we work to explode every day. The one that constantly invalidates his gender because he was born with parts that we think should only belong to a "girl."
 
When I read books to my son about almost anything—from the human body to a book about ladybugs—we see the same sort of depiction of humans and their families. They are almost always parented by a male and female of the socially acceptable variety. Most of them have the 2.5 children, and almost all of them are white. Some books take the trouble to include some people of color, but the only books featuring protagonists of color tend to be written by, well, people of color. And the only books that seem to portray families that aren't parented by a female-bodied Mom and a male-bodied Dad are written by queer authors.
 
One night when I was reading a book about the human body to my son, who was then three years old, I got really frustrated. I've long been editing books on the fly, but this one just smashed every type of normative portrayal of humans and their families into one book. White, two heterosexual parents, blonde child and blonde baby, and lots of talk about how all girls grow breasts and all boys have penises.
 
Not one thing about that book gave my son anything to identify with. His family involves more than two parent figures who don't all live together, he doesn't have any siblings (yet!), and most of his parents aren't white.
 
I turned to the page where they talked about genitalia.
 
All girls have vulvas. All boys have penises. I edited quickly: "Most girls have vulvas and most boys have penises."
 
Girls sit down to urinate; boys stand up. I related, "Some girls sit down to urinate, and some boys stand up." Then I had to explain that urinating meant peeing.
 
Having a transgendered adult in my son's life has led to some interesting conversations. I think I'm doing a pretty good job of raising a gender-conscious child, seeing as he's prone to announce -- mostly to a bewildered audience -- "Some boys have vulvas and some girls have penises."
 
He's a smart cookie, my guy. I hope that I'm raising a kid who will grow into an adult who is able to help spread the word that genitalia do not determine gender. And while I'm at it, to raise a kid who will speak up when a biased world tries to tell him that it's better to be white, rich, heterosexual and male than to be anything else.
 
It's a challenge raising socially conscious children in a world where they are constantly bombarded by the idea that some people are better than others. Sometimes it's outright and sometimes it's implied, if only by the absence of anything but blonde-haired, two-parented heterosexual families in everything from books to TV. Being a dissenting voice means trying to get your message across over the loud din of the status quo.
 
Being queer doesn't define me, but it is certainly a big factor in how my life unfolds. I made my partner laugh yesterday when I jokingly asked him, "So, are we going to have illegitimate children or are we going to get married before I knock you up?" I'm happy to report he nearly peed his pants (sitting down!) at that. I mean, we can't get married legally since we're both female-bodied. The law doesn't give a crap if he's a boy or not. His plumbing downstairs is a good enough indicator of gender for the government!
 
I used to worry that I wasn't doing right by my kid, what with being a single queer mama with no biological family to speak of. I worried that he would be lacking some sort of essential ingredient to grow up happy and capable of functional relationships. I don't worry anymore. Aside from some nail-biting incidents like peeing on the playground, he's an amazing child (turns out his daddy let him pee outside when they were nowhere near a potty, so he figured, in classic 3-year old logic, that the playground was fair game too!)
 
No child is perfect, and mine's no exception. But he's outstandingly considerate, and he's capable of formulating some pretty complex thoughts.
 
I never thought I'd be a good mama. I thought my dysfunction would swallow him and me whole and burp out a chewed version of a relationship that resulted in my suicide and his need for life-long therapy. I think I'm doing great, considering the circumstances.
 
His preschool teacher was impressed with how I talked to my son about a particular bout of playground meanness one day last week. I said what I always do: something about how don't you think it hurt the other little boy? Did he think it was nice? Would he like that little boy to do that to him? And if I were that boy's mama, I would be very upset. Wouldn't you?
 
She said, "Mmmhmm! I love the way you talk to him! I told him the same thing!" and we had a great little chat about talking to kids for real and getting down and catching their attention, making them look at you.
 
I love that my boy asked an ex-girlfriend of mine, "Are you a boy or a girl?" and she answered "Neither/nor." And we talked about how people are boys or girls or a combination or something in between, and how everybody is different. I love that I teach him that most girls have vulvas and most boys have penises, but sometimes it doesn't matter, and girls can still be girls and not have vulvas and boys can be boys and not have penises.
 
Most of all I'm proud that my boy is a caring and loving and smart little boy. One who says, "Mama, you need to drink some water, too!" when I give him water, sometimes. One who throws his arms around me and asks for "10 rub-backs" before I tuck him in for the night.
 
I never thought I'd love being a mama. I never imagined I would love this little person so much. I'm proud of me for stepping up to the single-mama plate when all I wanted to do was hand him over to someone else. Despite all of that and the intense emotional pain I felt at being responsible for a little human being, I'm doing it anyway... queerly.