Between moving to a new city last winter and P starting school this fall, meeting new people is a regular occurrence these days. Moms group playdates and activities, new school events and parent meetings; it's a lot of telling our story over and over.
Not that I mind. I love the community we are being absorbed into and the new community we are forming at school. It's what I want for us and for P; a village, a tribe. Being able to call your neighbor when you have an emergency while traveling or the older couple asking you over for dinner or the relationships you are forming with other parents in the same season of life as you. The endless meetings are worth it.
But with every introduction, there is always a question that makes its way to the surface; what does your husband do? To say that I'm intensely private in an understatement. I don't divulge a lot of information to strangers, mostly because of trust issues. Being gay is a tidbit about me I have a hard time saying. Maybe to remain safe (yes, I have been verbally harassed by a stranger), or perhaps to protect myself from the beliefs of the other person that I don't want to deal with. Whatever the reason, I don't go around waving a rainbow flag so naturally this question arises.
Just last week I was enjoying a conversation with another dad in P's class. And there it was; "What does your husband do?" asked several minutes into the conversation. "I don't have a husband. My wife and I own a machine shop," I say. The shock and awe on his face was amusing to say the least. Not sure if he was stupefied or in wonderment. The look was synonomous. Either way, it was a cringe worthy response.
The uncomfortableness that ensues in all of the responses is just plain awkward. Some people are embarrassed they made an assumption. Some people judge, and want to run as fast as they can. However, most are remarkably couth and stick it out. In the past this would bother me. I worried way too much about other people's feelings. Today is different. Either I just don't care, or I want my son to know that it really isn't a big deal. We are "normal" people after all. I'm sure there will come a day when he corrects the stranger. "She doesn't have a husband."
I'm uncertain that answering this question will ever get easier, but it's who we are. A lesbian couple with a son, a boy with two mothers, two women that love each other, and yes, are married! I'm proud of my family and particularly proud of my spifner (spouse, wife, partner = a word we made up). Those that are meant to be friends stick around anyway, and those that don't, don't. Just like any other relationship.
Why people keep asking this question is what I want to know. I suppose it's just one of those oddities in life; we are a product of our cultural training. Child = married to a man. What if I were a single mother, a widow, a divorcee? But that's a rabbit hole for another day.
What does my husband do? Well, she is a beautiful woman that does it all. Wait until you meet her. She's lovely.