I took Boobaby in for a blood test to check her lead levels. Predictably, she cried at being restrained and poked with a needle. I did my level best to calm and reassure her, using my Karp, my Boo-Boo-Bunny, a bottle of milk, a snuggly, and lots of hugging.
To her credit, Boo calmed down pretty quickly, but was still a little sniffly as we made our way back out through the phlebotomy lobby. Noticing the tears, an older lady said to us:
“Oh, she’s so sad. She wants her mommy.”
I’m a pacifist. I could have punched her.
No one’s kidding me: moms do more childcare than dads, generally speaking. But I admit to occasional frustration at all the mommy-focus in our parenting culture. I feel an ever-so-slight twinge at “Mommy and Me” references, or, as our family’s laundry maven, the pervasiveness of mommies in ads about laundry detergent. I think about all the other daddies, and for that matter, dozens of other family configurations. Where’s the detergent commercial for grandparents raising their grandkids? What about foster families? Emancipated older brothers? Two-daddy families? Can we all use Downy, too?
So I got a little riled, as you can see. But the universe has a quirky way of getting back at me.
That very night, Working Mom took us to a work-related fundraiser at a private home. Boobaby and I, naturally, hung out in the designated babies room with a “lesbian dad”* (the term some two-mom couples use for the non-bio mom). Her toddler was trying to destroy the antiques, so I offered to bring out a book from my 20-pound diaper bag. I knew I’d put one in there. There’s always a book in there.
So what book did it turn out to be?
I Love You, Papa.
You know what’s fun? Reading a daddy-love book to a 2Â½-year old with two mommies who is just starting to figure out that his family is a little unusual and seems not quite sure how he feels about it. With one of the mommies watching.
You know what’s really fun, though? The warm smile that mommy gave me and her son when we were reading. In that smile was acceptance and support and love. It was acknowlegement that just like the old lady at the phlebotomist, our notions of “family” are going to come out of our own history and upbringing. And, as long as we struggle to bridge the divide between our own preconceptions and the realities of other people’s families, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, those kinds of bridges will make her child and mine emotionally stronger.
Moreover, I added a new tongue twister to my multifarous body of knowledge. Phlebotomy lobby. Phebotomy lobby. Phebotomy lobby.
*My favorite Lesbian Dad blog, by the way, is lesbiandad.net.