I am a housewyfe.
I am not a mother.
I know that, for many, these two concepts intertwine so synonymously that saying you are a housewyfe means that you are a full-time mother. I may look motherly, but I lost my figure to pie and cookies and homemade jam. I am most assuredly not a mother. I’m not even maternal.
As the lovely Lesbian Housewyfe, I do respect every woman’s right to choose to have a child. (Lesbian Law #27: “Breeding isn’t just for breeders.” ) However, I also thank God every day that I can’t “accidentally” have children. Lesbians work hard to have kids, and never ever will you hear a soon-to-be lesbian mother crying to her friends, wondering how this situation occurred. She knows. She was there. A doctor was there along with a sperm-filled syringe. Money changed hands. Multiple visits occurred. These women pursue the vocation of “mommy” with purpose.
That is not me. When I came out to my mother, she wailed, “I’ll never have grandchildren!”
“What about my brother?”
She shot me a look that said, “Don’t depend on him for nieces and nephews.”
She knew that being a lesbian was my last out on motherhood. As a child, I didn’t play with dolls. I asked for one at Christmas one year, a little dolly that peed like a real baby. I took one look at that soggy diaper and never fed it again. That dolly went straight into the toybox and never re-emerged.
I also want to assure you that my brother did come through on the grandchildren front and my mother is now the proud “Nana” of a darling five-year-old boy.
I am, in fact, afraid of babies. I don’t run in fear, but they make me nervous, and I dislike touching them. I could break them, you know. I never know how to hold their little heads and I’m not called Grace for a very good reason. I would never be forgiven for dropping someone’s baby.
I mean, they would absolutely never speak to me again.
Also, babies unexpectedly explode.
Don’t shake your head at me! You know it’s true.
Babies alternately have poop, vomit, mucus, or drool spewing from their many orifices at any given time. I visited an old friend with a new baby who, mid-lovely-visit to a quaint gourmet market, looked at her baby and said, “Oops! Poop explosion.” She grimaced, picked the child up into her arms from the stroller and revealed the yellowy brown squishy stain rapidly rolling down the leg of his pants. She swiftly grabbed the diaper bag (babies cause extra baggage in so many ways!) and beelined it for the women’s bathroom, where I can only imagine the carnage. She didn’t return for twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes of cleaning up poop from the child, the clothing, the fold-down diaper table, the women’s restroom!
That could have happened on my lap.
Another of my maternal failures is that I cannot seem to sustain conversation with a baby.
They will approach as they develop the means, and look up at me. I feel pressure to entertain. “So,” I say, “How’s it going?”
The child looks at me and thrusts forward a little chubby hand containing something slimy: keys, a toy, a little catnip mouse they found on the floor.
“Unh!” They say. “Unh!”
I accept the proffered object and they smile, or not. I hand it back and they drop it on my foot. The child toddles away. I kick the object somewhere else to dry before I pick it up again. That’s actually a pretty good encounter. Children sometimes cry, in which case I grasp them under their armpits and carry them at arms length to their Mom or Dad or designated overseer.
Maybe I’m not scared. Maybe I’m just not comfortable around babies. They move rapidly, make high-pitched noises and unexpectedly spew slime. Then they look at you with these little angelic smiles that break your heart. You know what else does that? Demons in horror movies. Only they reverse the process and already have teeth.
My only defense? I treat them like adults. I get upset when they act like babies. I want to tell them to not be a child about it. I tell them to act their age. Then I realize that their age is four or two or one. I am embarrassed and make it into a joke. I tell them to be cool and try to ignore the entire conversation.
The Lesbian Housewyfe is just not a mom even though she seems maternal: baking cookies, crocheting baby afghans, puttering in the garden.
Remember Lesbian Law#1: Never Underestimate the Power of the Lesbian Housewyfe.
How do I have the time for all of these fun family activities?
Ironically, I post this piece as my beloved now sixteen-year-old nephew completes his visit. He began making the journey to our home for six weeks each summer when he turned ten. We love his visits and wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m even afraid this may be the last one as he begins to talk of driving and getting a job.
Of course, that may just be because he isn’t a baby anymore.
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