Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Mom & dad

In an effort to procrastinate the things I actually need to get done, I was doing those piddly sort of things that are always around the house - filing some papers, straightening the books, etc. I ran across birthday cards of V's from last year, and in glancing through, I saw one signed, "Love, Mom and Dad."

Not a revelation by any means: I've met both her father and mother multiple times, and am more than aware of their existence (but that's a rant for another time). But it just hit me how odd that phrase sounds - "mom and dad." I've never had a card signed like that. My parents were only together till I was 2, and I don't have any of my first or second birthday cards. My cards were always dad-and-stepmom's-name or mom-and-stepdad's-name, or, more recently, for reasons I don't fully understand, single names on three or four separate cards.

As I spent a moment mourning my poor child-of-divorce loss, it occurred to me that my children also will not have cards from "mom and dad." They will read, "all our love, mommy and momma," or whatever other terms we decide to go with. That sounds just as loving to me as the mother and father signature...I think. I'm still getting used to the idea that all the heteronormative facets of my upbringing and daily life are going to be turned on their heads. I haven't quite gotten used to the reality that I'll probably spend years crossing out "father" on forms, writing in "parent," and filling in my name or V's name.

Terminology is a tricky thing. Any Intro to Linguistics class will tell you that. But in addition to carving out a safe space and a new family, we gays (giggle) must also carve out new words. We must make "mommy and mama" as correct-sounding, if not as common, as "mom and dad." My kids aren't going to grow up in a house with a mom and a dad. But it will be for a much better reason than I had.

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