Parents

Whose Business Is It? (Hint: Not Yours)

Whose baby is it? It really isn’t any of your fucking business.

Think Before You Ask

My wife had a late work meeting, so I decided to attempt an evening at a restaurant with my toddler. Just the two of us.

The idea of it was anxiety inducing and I immediately started to sweat upon contemplating the feat, but I knew if I could order quickly enough, walk the kid around a bit while waiting for our meal, and then proceed to shovel food quickly down both of our throats, I could pull it off.

“Whose baby is she?”

There was only one other table with customers at the restaurant. I breathed a sigh of relief when I walked through the doors and thought this should be manageable, even if Elle did have a meltdown.

The waitress came over and greeted us, commented on how cute my child was, and asked me if I wanted to put plastic wrap down on the table in front of her to help with the mess. Brilliant idea! I was so grateful that she was quick thinking enough to spare me the floor clean up after we were done. She said that she knew how hard it was to be out in restaurants with kids, since she had two toddlers herself, and we commiserated a bit.

As a stay-at-home mom, most days I am deprived of adult interaction, so I began to tell her why I was out alone tonight, and that this was only the second time I was out alone with my daughter for a meal. When I told her my wife was at a work event, the first thing out of her mouth was—

“Whose baby is she?”

Come. On.

My jaw dropped. Did she really just ask me that question? I took a deep breath, as I didn’t want to go immediately lose my shit. I decided to give her a chance to redeem herself, so I responded, “She’s both our baby”.

“Oh, so you shared eggs or whatever, and the other one carried?”

“No. She is both our baby. She is our child, together. “

She still didn’t get it, and then proceeded with “that’s cool that you did it that way. I have a friend that did that. Actually, I have two friends that did that, and I think it’s their life and as long as they are good people and love their kid, it’s none of my business.”

Yeah. “None of her business.” I’m not sure if she felt her foot wedge into her mouth, or if she saw the look of utter confusion on my face as she climbed deeper into that hole, but she certainly didn’t make any more conversation about my daughter or anything else for that matter, for the remainder of our dinner.

Here’s the thing, wait staff, storekeepers, random neighbors of the world, and all you dear readers: It really isn’t any of your fucking business.

That moment was the first time I’d ever experienced that (rude, insensitive) question, and it came from a total stranger.

I wasn’t angry at her.

Well, maybe a little bit.

Okay, maybe I had already started the negative Yelp review/rant, but I was trying to understand this seemingly dark and ignorant and righteous place she was coming from to question anything about my family. The more I replayed the encounter in my head, I was saddened by the fact that this stranger would automatically consider that Elle wasn’t both our baby. G may have not grown her for 9 months, but G has held her, fed her, loved her, sung to her, carried her, and been her mother since she came out of my womb.

In fact, G picked our children’s sperm donor. G was there at every appointment with our fertility doctors while we were trying to conceive, she was the one to hold my hand when I was inseminated, and the one to drive me to the 24 hour pharmacy in the middle of the night for 10 more pregnancy tests to happily confirm we were pregnant. Her eyes lit up just as much as mine did when we talked about the baby in my belly.

I guess it might have been easier to simply tell her the truth, that I am the biological mama, and that Elle has none of G’s DNA. Though, if you saw G or any of her pictures from when she was a child, you would have no idea that Elle doesn’t carry her mom’s DNA.

Strangers—even friends–questioning the makeup of our family still leaves me a little speechless and disappointed in the world we are bringing up this beautiful child in.

That waitress left me plotting: What can I do to make it better? What do I say the next time someone has verbal diarrhea and spits out what they should have really kept inside?

Next time, I would tell them she is both our baby; that a person does not have to carry a child, look like them, or share genetic information with them to be their parent.

Elle is our child, and we love her more than anything else in the entire world.

If I continue to love her so much, maybe people will stop asking? Will they see just how real and connected and mutually adored our family is?

Hopefully.

But maybe not.

So I ask, if you are out in your world and you see a family that looks different from your own, and you are overcome with the desire to ask personal details about who carried or who is related, consider how it would make you feel if someone questioned the makeup of your own family.

Perhaps you don’t feel like it would bother you? But stop and imagine about being asked about the validity of your connection to your own children more than once, being asked it over and over, and by people you don’t know, and maybe it’ll start to sink in why this type of question and intrusion into people’s privacy sucks.

And if you still feel like you need help, here you go (one more time):

This piece by Carla Grossini-Concha first appeared in MUTHA Magazine: Exploring real-life motherhood, from every angle, at every stage.

“I love how the narratives in MUTHA Magazine remind you that everything changes–but not maybe all of the things you’re worried about.” – Ann Friedman, Call Your Girlfriend

“Fills the void for those who have experienced pregnancies or motherhood in ways that might fall outside of Leave it To Beaver.” – Marcia Brenner, Ms. Fit Magazine

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