Friday, June 16, 2006

The Dialectic of Parent Names

The other day in the car, Cousin's four-year-old boy asked me:

[Blogauthor], are you a 'Mom' or a 'Dad'?

He had been curious about this issue during the past week asking questions along the same lines such as:

Does [SYO] have a 'Dad'?

Hegel's dialectic would serve me well here. If "mother", for example, is the thesis, creating its antithesis, "father", this results in a synthesis of the opposing assertions or "at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue."

I just finished Polly Pagenhart's essay "Confessions of a Lesbian Dad" in the recently published edited volume Confessions of the Other Mother.

It was excellent.

LesbianDad: Email me when you get a chance. I can't find a way to communicate with you directly, but I'd like to express to you that we seem to be living paralell lives in many ways.


She tells a story toward the end of the essay in which her nephews inquired as to the status of her parenthood in a manner similar to Cousin's boy:

"So, Polly? Are you going to be a mama or a papa?"

I had read this essay only a couple of nights before I was posed with the same question and so it was only out of respect that I essentially plagiarized her answer (I must say that I have never been asked that particular question before. Sure, I've gotten the "are you a boy or a girl" from the curious toddler, but never the Mom/Dad question. In fact, I've mostly had the "Mom" label plastered on me out of politically correct sympathizers--especially since Big was born and, especially on Mother's day).

I'm going to be a little of both

These were Polly's words. Early blueprints for our non-biological lesbian parenting handbook in the making.

Something other than mother, but other than father too. I'll be the best parts of a mama, plus the best parts of a papa. Which, is called a baba.

I held my breath and drove us the rest of the way home.


mermaidgrrrl said...

We went swimming the other week and my partner left the undercover pool to go and do butterfly in the big pool. I was chatting to some kids aged 2 and 4 and one of them asked me "Where did your boy go?". Of course I thought it was gorgeous and said she's gone to the other pool, but the childs mother was horrified and started trying to explain away her childs turn of phrase. Little did she know (or could understand) that my partner loves being called a boy!

My partner loves the term daddy and will probably find a similar term for when we have a child. I also loved that book and she is working her way through it now. She definitely related to the essay you refer to.

Taggert said...

In that case happy baba day...I'd have sent a card but Hallmark doesn't yet have a card for Baba day and I (which is why I) hate Hallmark and all of its fictitous holidays.

LesbianDad said...

Thank you, Diarist! What an ever so beautiful post. I'll write you directly forthwith: totally agreed on the parallel lives thing (I even lived in the Twin Cities for six yrs--left a grad program early--if six years can be considered early!--but w/ the future mum of my kids in tow: a pretty good deal, all in all).

Also, to taggert and us all, I'm all for us working up a Baba's Day, slash Non-bio mum's day. Though there's also adoptive lesbo mums, both of whom are non-bio but one of whom is happier being more "motherly" than the other. Per usual, our language lags slowly behind our lives. Basically it feels like all the maternal & parental horses are all streaming out of the barn and alls I can say is "Phshew!" About time!

My post for today is another wee contribution to the Baba's Day thought, a meditation on Father's Day. O so much more to be said about all this: we're all writing volumes all over the country/planet, daily, with our lives.