being a mom
How to Befriend the Gay Mom on the Playground in 8 Easy Steps
I used to wonder how people make friends as adults. Now I know: You have a baby, you take them to the playground (or the zoo or the childrenâ€™s museum or story time), and other parents desperately throw their phone numbers at you, shrieking â€œLETâ€™S HAVE A PLAYDATEâ€ while their toddlers eat the whole sandbox. Every parent â€“ especially stay-at-home parents like me â€“ is dying for a few minutes of socialization, ideally with an adult who already understands why your house appears to be carpeted entirely in granola.
By the way, can we make parent business cards a thing? â€œTasha, mom of Devon, 3, available weekday mornings, rec center member.â€
I tend to be the approached rather than the approacher, in part because Iâ€™m too busy keeping my child from breaking everything to worry about my own social life, but also because, as a queer mom, Iâ€™m protective about who Iâ€™ll spend time with. I donâ€™t want to accidentally put myself or my child in a situation where we get blasted with prejudice, so unless Iâ€™m pretty certain youâ€™re cool, Iâ€™m going to pass on that trip to the aquarium.
So how do you make sure the queer parents you encounter feel comfortable with you and want their kids to be friends with yours? Obviously if youâ€™re also gay weâ€™ll just do the secret handshake and move on, but if youâ€™re straight youâ€™ll have to work a little harder to set our minds at ease. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Notice the subtle cues that Iâ€™m queer.
Like my undercut, unshaved legs, Sleater-Kinney t-shirt, and use of the word â€œpartnerâ€ to reference the person Iâ€™m married to, and then donâ€™t ask me â€œSo what does your husband do?â€
2. Resist the urge to focus obsessively on how Cool You Are With The Gays.
It stresses me out and makes me feel objectified, like youâ€™re trying to check off the â€œqueer mom with tattoosâ€ space on your Good Liberal Bingo Card. I get that you love Rachel Maddow, but that doesnâ€™t need to be the only thing we ever talk about.
3. Ask â€œDo you have any food restrictions?â€ when you invite us over.
I donâ€™t know what the deal is but every literally every queer person in the world is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, or taking a break from citrus because it reminds them of their ex, and we appreciate it when you show sensitivity. (Also, all of our kids have allergies. Why? Who knows.)
4. Mention your dog.
Oh my goodness, queer folks and our children love dogs. We love all domesticated animals, actually. We have, like, Disney-princess-level affinity for all woodland creatures. Do you have gerbils? Goats? Ducks? A snake? Drop that into the conversation and see how fast we show up at your door with a toddler under one arm and a bag of Thai take-out in the other.
5. Mention your CSA and/or favorite farmerâ€™s market.
For bonus points, mention kale.
6. Donâ€™t ask me if I know your other gay friend.
Not because Iâ€™m offended by the assumption that all queer people know each other â€“ we totally do â€“ but because she probably dated my friend and they had a bad breakup so itâ€™s awkward.
7. Avoid talking about your kids or mine in an overtly heterosexist or gender-role-upholding way.
It makes me super uncomfortable when people refer to a friendly toddler as a â€œflirtâ€ or tell young girls to â€œsit like a lady.â€ As much as possible, I want my daughter to grow up around people who donâ€™t try to shove her into a gender-shaped box. If your favorite hobby is smashing the patriarchy, weâ€™ll get along awesome.
8. Mention craft beer.
A local, seasonal IPA is to gay moms what wine is to straight moms. Offer me one and I am your friend forever.