I’ve been copping a few compliments lately, and not from lady-loving ladies. Or lady-loving men, for that matter. No, my new appreciative demographic is baby-loving ladies.
Their compliments generally go something like this:
BLL: Oh! How old is your baby?
Me: (rubbing sleep out my eyes and trying to look less scary): He’s 12 weeks.
BLL: Oh! Wow! (looking me up and down, taking in my stick-like adolescent boy’s body) You look fabulous! What’s your secret?
Me: Well, my girlfriend gave birth to him. But it’s not a secret -¦
BLL (blank look, followed by confused smile, followed by return of gaze to pram): He’s beautiful.
Me: And my girlfriend looks really good too, by the way.
BLL: (walking away).
And so it goes. Ever since my boy was born -“ and don’t get me started on what a gorgeous genius he is -“ I’ve been in a coming-out Groundhog Day, having to explain my family dynamics to strangers, to acquaintances, to random people in shops.
If the conversation goes any further, I explain that my family is not really that interesting at all. We live in the inner west, we have a tiny, badly-behaved dog.
Then the same questions start, regardless of whether I know the questioner well or whether I’ve just met them on the street.
I could hand out cards with pre-prepared answers: Yes, his father is a wonderful man and a good friend of ours. Yes, his father sees him regularly and is thrilled to have a son. Yes, everything is going well between us and his father and his father’s partner. Yes, we think it’s important for him to have a relationship with his father too. No, not everyone feels that way and we support other people’s choices.
If I were paranoid, or less ecstatically thrilled to be a parent, I might find such badgering a bit annoying, intrusive or just plain rude.
The choices we make about parenting are personal rather than political; I don’t know any gay or lesbian parents who had children with the intention of proving something to someone. And it’s not like we’re pioneers -“ gay families are not a new thing, despite what some rednecks say.
Anyways, for now I’ll keep talking as long as there’s an audience willing to tell me how beautiful he is (not that I don’t know it already).