She Looks Just Like You

The other day while we were at the doctor, I slipped right into a pool of delusion and fell flat on my face.  For a moment, I forgot that we aren’t like everyone else.  That my family isn’t normal, that we’re unexpected, that we need explanation.

Instead of our usual doctor, we saw the on-duty physician whom we’d never met before.  I could tell you a lot of things about what he looked like and who he appeared to be but it doesn’t really matter since none of those things should make a difference.  When he walked into the office for the appointment with RR and I, I didn’t automatically jump to introduce my wife.  For a moment, I forgot that my family needs to come with instructions.

D was holding the baby throughout the appointment and, although I had a momentary flash of maybe I should clarify that we’re a family, I was riding on our previous positive experiences with our regular doctor and assumed that D holding the baby would convey enough relationship.  The doctor was very kind to our child, even picking her up to console her during a crying jag.  And then, as he handed her to me, he said, “Maybe some time with Mommy will help.”  For a moment, I didn’t know which mommy he meant.  But I promise you, he didn’t mean D.

I felt the pit of my stomach drop just then, as he completely invalidated her parenthood in one tiny statement.  I suspect had he read RR’s chart carefully or had I introduced us all he would have handled the situation differently.  Regardless, the unexpected weight of his implication is still hanging around here cluttering up our breathing room.  I’m not sure what prompted his assumption – maybe I said that I was her mother?  Maybe because she has my fair skin tone?  Maybe because we were both sick?  For one single moment, I hated our differentness.

Since then, I’ve had my own invalidating experience – a woman in the grocery store assumed RR was my sister’s daughter leaving me to clarify awkwardly as the woman stood there, possibly skeptically.  In that case, it was a simple mistake and not a judgement about my core identity but it still stung.  I feel a little as if we’ve learned our lesson (whatever that is) and that we shouldn’t assume that other people see us as we see us.  I also feel, unfortunately, that they’d rather not see us as we see us: a family, in love, normal.

To be fair, I’ve also had mistakes in my favor, “Oh, she looks just like you!”  And, for a moment, I wished she did.

 

7 Responses

  1. I have a pit in my stomach reading this. 😦

  2. So sucky. My little sister is adopted, and my family also got the “she looks just like you” from unknowing folks when she was little. It was okay, obviously, but it puts you in this weird position of “do i explain that she doesn’t really look like *me*?”

    Anyway, I’m sorry about the bad doctor’s visit. Those moments have a way of surprising you (in a bad way) and that feeling is the worst.

  3. I want to wrap all of our “different” families up in a big warm cocoon of love, and never let the outside world interfere…. I am so scared for the first time this happens to us. I just want to stay wrapped in a world with only gays and people who “get” it….. and no one that has to think about it or gives it a second thought is allowed.

    bastard. read the effing chart. And if I were D, I would have asked a question very specific about post-partum…. like “can I pass the sickness on through my breastmilk?” or some other clue that makes him feel like an ass. I’m all about making people feel like an ass though, so maybe I’m not the best advice giver 🙂

  4. But aren’t you her Mommy?

  5. That blows. It really, really does.

  6. I live in dread of these moments.

    I think, and this is not in defense of the doctor, by any means, who should have read the damn chart, or even the woman in the grocery store, that people have a tendency to see not even what they *want* to see, but what they *expect* to see. And, it’s stupid, I know, but I think the majority of straight people (who, lets face it, are the majority of people), particularly in your area (and I know whereof I speak), don’t expect to see gay families. Hell, even in this area a midwife told my single, lesbian, friend about how “soon your husband will be able to feel the baby moving”. (This midwife was soon replaced, but still. Way to read the chart there, lady.) We were 20 minutes into wedding dress shopping at one place near here before we realized that yes, we had to explicitly tell the sales people that no, we weren’t having a double wedding, we were getting married *to each other* on account of us being lesbians and all. They were fine with it, but it was still kind of awkward.

    I don’t know what the solution is. I mean, I don’t really want to spend *all* my time with both PB and I wearing “We’re both the real mom” t-shirts, you know? On the other hand, whenever we go to the various prenatal appointments and PB doesn’t explicitly introduce me as her wife, I tend to do it myself. I think she thinks that people will assume that because we’re there together, that we’re *together*. I still tend to expect that most people, if not explicitly informed otherwise, will tend to see what they expect to see: supportive friend, or possibly sister. (After all, we’re both brunettes, so clearly we must be sisters, right?) Of course, that could just be me wearing my own blinders.

    All of which is to say that sucks, and I’m sorry y’all had to go through it. On the bright side, though, maybe it will make some of the people re-think their blanket assumptions? Maybe? I live in hope.

  7. When our son was born everyone in the hospital kept saying how much he looked like her. But as he grew he looked more like me. My sister in law saw a photo of me at 18 mos on my FB page and did not read the caption. She told me her first thought was why did Heidi put Baylor in a dress.
    My partner is on the butch spectrum and gets looks and questions when she is out with him. It is hard for us as families but when we can teach people to look outside their boxes, it can be worth it.

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